Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said he wants to leave a lasting legacy like MLB icon Jackie Robinson by helping the league embrace individualism rather than continuing to abide by the old-school rules that still govern the sport.
On Tuesday, Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated provided comments from Anderson, who said he wants to knock down MLB's "have-fun barrier."
"I kind of feel like today's Jackie Robinson," he said. "That's huge to say. But it's cool, man, because he changed the game, and I feel like I'm getting to a point to where I need to change the game."
Anderson drew the ire of the Kansas City Royals for his emphatic bat flip after hitting a fourth-inning home run off Royals starting pitcher Brad Keller on April 17.
Keller hit the 25-year-old Sox infielder with the first pitch of his next at-bat, which sparked some benches-clearing drama between the teams, though a brawl never broke out.
MLB announced Keller received a five-game suspension for hitting Anderson, the equivalent of one start, and Anderson got a one-game ban for his "conduct" during the incident.
Anderson, who is black, admitted to Apstein he used the N-word toward Keller, who is white, during the dispute and explained why he didn't feel appealing the suspension would have served any purpose.
"I don't think there's a black guy that's up that high in baseball that they could drag in and be, like, 'Hey, what do you think we should do to this guy?'" he said.
Anderson was one of MLB's hottest hitters during the 2019 season's first month. He enters May with a .375/.394/.615 triple-slash line and six home runs across 23 appearances. His 1.009 OPS ranks 10th in the league among qualified hitters.
He told Apstein he's hopeful more people will give baseball a chance once they see his energetic style.
"I'm bringing something to baseball that's never been brought, as far as the swag," he said. "I love fashion, and just being different, and bringing black culture to baseball and doing it in a different way, because today's game is boring. ... [After the bat flip,] a lot of people who don't watch baseball, they actually gave me feedback, like, 'Man, if this is going on in baseball, I better watch it.'"
Anderson and the White Sox are back in action Wednesday with a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles.