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‘Old school’ Derek Jeter weighs on on bat-flipping debate

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Derek Jeter of course wasn’t a particularly flamboyant baseball player prone to antics that could be interpreted as disrespectful to either an opponent or the game of baseball.

But even a self-described “old school” player like Jeter recognizes changes are afoot in Major League Baseball and a new generation of ballplayers view the game far differently than did their predecessors.

Jeter, who served as an MLB ambassador at Tuesday’s exhibition game in Cuba, was asked about the debate over the appropriateness of bat-flipping during an on-air interview with ESPN.

“Obviously you’re going to have old school players — I’m one of them — there’s a certain way that you’ve played the game,” Jeter said, as transcribed by Eye on Baseball. “The game’s evolving, and you want people to show their personalities, you want them to be them.

“You talk about a lot of the Latin players, I think everyone talks about the Latin flair that they have, it’s fun. You come out to games whether it’s in Cuba, whether it’s in Puerto Rico, Venezuela … they have a good time and enjoy themselves.

“And you may not agree with it, you may not appreciate it, but the bottom line is I don’t think they’re doing it to be disrespectful. I think people are doing it just to show their personalities. There’s always going to be two sides of it. I don’t think you can say one side is right or one side is wrong.”

Comments a few weeks ago from Bryce Harper in which the Washington Nationals superstar blew off the long-revered unwritten rules of baseball — including how bat-flipping should be frowned upon — sparked a debate inside baseball about the state of the game.

Harper’s thoughts not surprisingly sparked a backlash from staunch traditionalists and in no small part inspired Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage to go nuclear on baseball’s new guard, including comments that savaged the like of Jose Bautista and Yoenis Cespedes, among others.

Gossage said he lost his mind during his profane rants, but the message was clear: There certainly is a divide between the guardians of baseball’s traditions and the next generation of MLB greats. It’s what makes the comments from Jeter — who never exhibited such showy antics like bat-flipping — so intriguing.