Blue Jays: There will be more like Stroman, so get used to it

TORONTO, ON - JULY 27: Marcus Stroman
TORONTO, ON - JULY 27: Marcus Stroman /

Marcus Stroman has a fiery personality, and at times it can rub some people the wrong way. However, in an era where branding is as prevalent as it’s ever been, there will be more of this type of behaviour, and baseball fans will have to get used to it.

In a season where most of the roster has underperformed, Marcus Stroman has been one of the few shining lights on the Blue Jays’ roster. He’s currently sporting a 10-5 record with a 3.19 ERA in 22 starts at 138.1 innings pitched. Those are great numbers for anyone, but when you stack them up against the rest of the Blue Jays’ rotation, Stroman has been a god send.

He’s been in the media a great deal this year, mostly for his performance, but he’s also found his fair share of controversy, especially lately. In his latest start against the White Sox, he had a staring match and an exchange of words with Tim Anderson, just the latest incident in what’s turning out to be a bit of a trend of late.

The start before that, Stroman was thrown out of the game along with his battery mate Russell Martin, as they had disputes with home plate umpire, Will Little, throughout the game. John Gibbons was thrown out earlier in the game, and Little made the rare choice to thrown out both Stroman and Martin as they continued to question his strike zone. (For what it’s worth, the zone was horrific on the day, and it was a little ridiculous how trigger happy Little got with the ejections, especially in Martin’s case).

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Still, these weren’t the first incidents for Stroman this year either, and he’s obviously developing a bit of a reputation in the game, maybe the most significantly with the umpiring crews around baseball. This is me just speculating for the most part, but it appears that many plate umpires are on extra alert with Stroman on the mound, at least lately. Sure, he brings some of it on himself, but we all know what bias can do to an official, even if they’re bringing it subconsciously.

It’s something that the 26 year old starter will need to be aware of, even if he doesn’t plan to make any drastic changes to his on field personality. He’s well known for his ticks, grunts, and outward personality, and admittedly he pushes the limits of what’s acceptable at times. As a former official, I don’t mind if a pitcher is yelling or making noises on the mound, but if they are consistently directed at the plate after near misses on strikes, I don’t blame the umpires for putting a stop to it either.

I sincerely don’t believe that Stroman has any disrespectful motivation with his behaviour, beyond trying to dominate as much as possible on the hill. He’s an intense competitor, and with that comes intense behaviour, and no one should try to change that about the former Duke University standout.

He will need to be more aware of his behaviour, mostly just so he can make sure he isn’t prematurely removed from the game, as was the case in the Will Little incident. However, it’ll be just as important for baseball to adjust to personalities like Stroman’s, as there are plenty more coming. In the era of social media and branding, player personalities are more important than ever, especially if they are interested in making “the big bucks”. Plenty of players are paid on a consistent basis for their tweets of Instagram posts, and advertising companies aren’t looking for the “quiet gentleman” to move their product.

In Stroman’s case, he has his own brand (height doesn’t measure heart- HDMH), and you’d be foolish to think that his personality isn’t the biggest driving force behind the product line. I’m not suggesting that he acts the way he does to move product either, but rather that he’s encouraged to let his big personality shine through at all times, especially when he’s on the mound.

Baseball purists (I’d consider myself to be one too, for the most part), aren’t particularly found of this idea, but we’re all going to have to accept that the game continues to evolve. Other stars like Bryce Harper have talked about the need for the game to “lighten up”, and as more millennial continue to flood MLB rosters, we’re bound to see a shift in the culture of the league.

In Stroman’s case, I’m naturally bias because I love the player, but I’m also an unapologetic Blue Jays’ fan. I’m certain that if he had been drafted by and played for the Yankees or the Red Sox, he’s the type of personality that I would loathe on the other side.

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