Fernando Tatis Jr. is an MVP candidate at the age of 21, leading the National League in home runs nearly halfway through this abbreviated season while sparking the San Diego Padres into contention for what would be their first playoff appearance since 2006.

Tatis, the son of a former major leaguer, has been known in baseball as one of the game’s top prospects for a couple of years. He finished third in last year’s National League Rookie of the Year vote only because he missed nearly half the season through injury, and if he doesn’t win this year’s MVP, it’s hard to see how he wouldn’t win one in the near future.

Stylish, energetic, and galactically talented, Tatis is a budding superstar. And the reason that Tatis has gotten closer this week to being a household name is that baseball is a sport full of stupid traditions and institutional racism whose purpose is to protect fragile white men.

In no other sport would someone be criticized for making the best play they could possibly make, but that’s what happened when Tatis hit a grand slam on Monday night in Texas. The Rangers were angry because Tatis swung at a 3-0 pitch with his team ahead by seven runs. And Padres manager Jayce Tingler criticized Tatis for ignoring the take sign, because he was more concerned with the unwritten rule about not hurting your opponents’ delicate feelings than he was with the one where hitting a home run gets you off the hook for having missed a sign, because you hit a home run and there is nothing better you can do as a hitter.

Weirdly, swinging at a 3-0 pitch for a team already in the lead and hitting a grand slam did not spark a controversy when Evan Gattis did it in 2013, nor when Jason Lane did it in 2006, nor when Damian Miller did it in 2002, nor when Mike Piazza did it in 1998. Nobody got a pitch thrown at them, like Manny Machado did on Monday night, resulting in suspensions for Rangers pitcher Ian Gibaut and manager Chris Woodward. It was simply accepted that those guys hit grand slams, which, again, is the best thing a hitter can do: four runs with one swing of the bat.Top ArticlesWelcome to The Root Institute, Featuring Interviews With StaceyAbrams, Cory Booker, Taraji P. Henson and Many MoreREAD MOREREAD MOREREAD MOREREAD MOREREAD MORESKIP AD