Count Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa among those who believe baseball isn't dying.
In a first-person essay for SoleCollector.com published Monday, the 21-year old phenom explained that while a perception regarding the sport's demise has become a popular narrative of late, the game is simply shifting in a different direction and is better served breaking away from its infamous unwritten rules:
These unwritten rules are responsible for trying to kill our fans’ favorable perception of the game that we love. They strangle the passion and creativity of some of our sports most exciting athletes, all for the fear of breaking those unwritten rules. We are so enamored by the idea of what we think the game should look like that we fail to see how it could be seen. The past has been glorified so much that we resist any change at all for fear that it will degrade traditions but in doing so we have stopped the game from progressing forward. We are surprised and offended when we hear someone say the game is boring or dying, but we don’t take action to fix it.
Correa added that while previous generations of baseball players deserve respect for their contributions to the game and how they've paved the way for today's sluggers, he believes an opportunity exists for the current generation to carry the sport into a new realm of popularity.
"We have the opportunity to drive this game forward and inspire future generations to know that they can do the same," Correa wrote. "We are a generation of ballplayers who express ourselves through a level of energy, passion and style that we bring every time we step on the field."
Correa also touched on his decision to ink an apparel deal with Adidas after previously signing with Nike.
"The decision was simple: because other brands are stuck in the past," Correa wrote. "My decision to sign with Adidas hinged on the opportunity to define what that future of baseball will look like. They looked for an opportunity to do things in a different way and presented a new way of thinking about baseball, fusing performance and style."
The reigning American League Rookie of the Year is hardly the first prominent player to speak up on the issue of on-field expression and in-game creativity—although doing so through the prism of his endorsement deal was unique.
Washington Nationals outfielder and reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper espoused similar opinions in a recent profile by ESPN The Magazine's Tim Keown that kick-started a debate regarding proper behavior within the game:
If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I'm going to go, 'Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time.' That's what makes the game fun. You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players -- Steph Curry, LeBron James. It's exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton -- I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It's that flair. The dramatic.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred also spoke up regarding in-game theatrics on the heels of Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista coming up with a bat flip to remember during the 2015 American League Division Series.
"I kinda line up with [Bryce] Harper on this," Manfred said in an interview on ESPN's Mike & Mike (via Sporting News' Jordan Heck). "I think that we've got a great generation of young stars coming into the game. And just like Goose (Gossage) and his peers decided certain things were OK, certain things weren't, this generation is going to define what the game looks like on those topics."
With Correa, Manfred and Harper all vocal proponents of pushing the limits of how players are allowed to express themselves on the diamond, baseball appears to be headed in a positive direction when it comes to ridding itself of its sentimental attachment to the good old days.
And with a fresh season upon us, it will be fascinating to see how Major League Baseball's most prominent superstars embrace the fresh approach.