Normally, things young and new rightfully irritate anyone with a little age to them. The music. The technology. The skinny jeans. All of it is just so irksome.
But, in a very few instances, there is a niche in which a little youth and a dash of unbridled energy are useful. For instance, a baseball team.
We knew the Atlanta Braves were going to get younger – the over-stuffed turducken of a minor league system demanded a demographic shift in the roster. Along with that, there was the assumption they would turn more athletic. Kids just love to strut their fibers that still twitch on demand and their joints that glide instead of groan (usually another reason to resent them).
With that came the assumption that they, like puppy videos, would be a good watch. But who knew it would be this entertaining?
Beyond numbers, the Braves in the first month of the season have shown themselves to be just visually pleasing. Don’t know what happens from here, but they have been a joy to behold. And their youth is major component to that.
You put a 21-year-old at the top of the lineup. Then follow him with a 20-year-old – as Brian Snitker did Sunday. Then turn them loose. Helmets fly, runs score and even the viewer starts to feel he’s part of some wonderful frat party.
How young are the Braves? The average age of the top two hitters in the Georgia Tech lineup Sunday against Wake Forest (21.5) was greater than that of the Braves (20.5) the same day.
Half of the Braves eight position players in the lineup – Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna, Johan Camargo and Dansby Swanson – are under 25. Ender Inciarte is just 27, but in relative terms he is really Elder Inciarte.
There is one number-driven aspect to the Braves April of Youth that is most fetching. It was an historic month in baseball, the first ever in which strikeouts across both leagues outnumbered hits. Yet these callow hitters displayed enough discipline to beat that trend. Braves hits (260) outnumbered Ks (222). That’s 30 fewer strikeouts than the National League average for April.
Gee, by putting the ball in play, good things might happen. Get those young legs churning on the basepaths, rather than slowly walking back to the dugout, and it gives a game a certain upbeat vibe. A jazz festival breaks out and pushes the folk acts aside.
By playing for management that recognizes this infusion of the spry, these frisky Braves are freed to bend a game to their skills. Who doesn’t like a good relay race? Go ahead, steal a base (a once stationary team is now fourth in MLB in that category). Take the extra base – it, like the world, young man, is yours until someone says it isn’t.
And, maybe in this one specific case, youth will not be wasted on the young.
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