Baseball’s Opening Day is a little over a week away, but many of the top sports publications are talking about a different competitive game entirely: Fortnite. Apparently, the massively successful battle royale video game has become something of a favorite past-time for athletes who are supposed to be focusing on America’s favorite past-time. And it’s not just a few players or a single team, either.
ESPN reported Monday on former Phillies first baseman Carlos Santana and an incident involving a baseball bat and a smashed flat-screen in the Phillies clubhouse. According to Santana, some Phillies on the 2018 roster were playing Fortnite during ballgames. To Santana, this was a mortal sin. He told ESPN that they “weren’t respecting their teammates or coaches or the staff or the [front] office.”
Phillies manager Gable Kepler told ESPN that chemistry began to fail after the team stopped winning last season, resulting in a culture of players who were “frustrated and searching for answers.” Soon enough, some were resigning themselves to the clubhouse to shoot at each other in Fortnite rather than hang out on the bench to watch the game. That is, until Santana’d had enough. After a nine-game losing streak in September 2018, Santana allegedly strolled into the video game room of Citizens Bank Park and bashed the TV screen like an angry father forcing his gamer son to go outside. That’s certainly one way to handle it.
And somehow that’s not even the most embarrassing story about Fortnite floating around the MLB. Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price was benched last year due to a “mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome,” according to Fortune. When the rumor rose that he had screwed up his hands from all the Fortnite gaming he’d been doing, Price announced he would stop playing. At least, while he was around the ballpark.
Over in Toronto, the Blue Jays are allegedly instituting a no-gaming policy in the clubhouse during the 2019 season, Vice reports. The decision was “player-driven,” with a “pre-game curfew” being implemented to curb the Fortnite mania that was taking hold of the roster. Other teams around the MLB are concerned about their players losing sleep because of the massively popular shooter, the Washington Post reported last summer.
Maybe instead of resisting Fortnite, it’s time we let it in. You can bet more people across the nation are thinking about the funky battle royale game than the old-timey balls and bats sport that seems to get less and less popular every year. Hell, maybe the MLB should partner up with Epic Games for a special collaboration. At this rate, Fortnite’s probably making enough money to save baseball.