HE HAS ALWAYS lived by his own code, no matter what anyone thinks: a three-sport star athlete in high school who spent weekends camping alone; a hippie who has never tried drugs; a major league pitcher whose first corporate relationship was with an environmental organization called 1% for the Planet. He is 21 and says he has never tasted alcohol. He has had one serious relationship, with his high school girlfriend, and it ended in part because he wanted more time to travel by himself. He was baptized in his baseball uniform. His newest surfboard is made from recycled foam. His van is equipped with a solar panel. He reads hardcover books and never a Kindle. He avoids TV and studies photography journals instead.
“Nonconformist,” reads one sign posted inside his VW.
But all professional sports value their conformists — athletes who sacrifice individuality for team, and whose predictable behavior elicits predictable results. Perhaps nowhere is consistency more valued than in baseball, a game whose self-reverence for tradition and purity might be contributing to its fading place as America’s pastime. The history of the game is valued above any one major league season; the integrity of a season is valued beyond any one team; the identity of a team is more important than that of its players. Flashiness of any kind is discouraged, and so players such as Yasiel Puig have to defend themselves simply for celebrating a home run. In the game’s unwritten code, drawing individual attention is considered unbecoming, if not downright unsportsmanlike.
More here – ESPN