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.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.