It’s not often I find myself in total agreement with Fox’s Jon Morosi about things, but I am in 100% agreement with his argument that baseball needs to lighten the hell up about bat flips, exuberance and on-field displays of flair and emotion.
The jumping-off point is the bat flip and slow strut out of the box by Carlos Gomez in yesterday’s Brewers-Pirates game. Morosi and I agree: not the brightest baseball move, as he could’ve been thrown out at third (or could’ve gotten an inside-the-park-homer, Morosi argues). Also: throwing his helmet escalated things in an unacceptable manner, turning a verbal altercation into a physical one when it didn’t have to be.
But Morosi’s point — with which I totally agree — is that it never should’ve even been a verbal altercation. Baseball is just dumb, however, and continues to have some sort of puritan disdain for any player who actually looks like they’re having fun out there:
Why do major league players take exception to peers who have the audacity to enjoy themselves on a baseball field?
If Gomez’s story sounds familiar, it should. Replace “Carlos Gomez” with “Yasiel Puig” or “Jose Fernandez,” and the basic theme holds true: A Latin American-born player has become a star in the major leagues, and he’s supposed to “tone down” his celebrations and remove the individuality from his game because “we don’t do that here.”
Well . . . why not?
It all comes down to “it never used to be like that,” of course. But I defy anyone to find a good historical example of when “we don’t DO that around here! It’s just NOT DONE” has been a sustainable or enlightened line of thinking.
Go read Morosi’s column. And ask yourself — honestly — why it’s so important to retain some century-old code of on-field stoicism and stifling of exuberance, style and — dare I say it — swag. While playing dumb may hurt Carlos Gomez’s team, how on Earth does it hurt Gerrit Cole’s? How is what Gomez did an infraction for the Pirates to police as opposed to one the Brewers should police?
Baseball has a hard enough time marketing its young, exciting players. Marketing to youth. Yet every time someone or something interesting comes along it’s shamed and punished. That’s just dumb. We need to cut it out.