In an Insider column for ESPN, Buster Olney wants a moratorium on high-fives for pitchers after getting lit up. You can read a little bit before being asked to log in, including this:
This is not about pace-of-play rules, or shattered maple bats, and OK, I’ll admit it, this is really not that big of a deal. But for someone who watches thousands of games a year, this is an issue that sticks out to me like a pimple on the forehead of the game. Every time I see this happen, I feel like a neat freak staring at a crumpled napkin in the middle of the kitchen floor. An unwritten rule has apparently taken over the sanity of everyone in dugouts across America.
This is approaching Grumpy Old Man territory. The pitcher isn’t getting rewarded for performing poorly; he’s being shown support by his teammates. Imagine being a salesman and being ignored by your coworkers every time you have a day with low sales. Isn’t it a much better environment in which to work when your coworkers are kind and supportive to you, regardless of your performance?
Furthermore, Olney’s view makes the assumption that a pitcher is one hundred percent responsible for the results. We know that luck plays a huge factor, and there’s also the input from the opposing batter, any runners on base, as well as the catcher and the rest of the defense. If, say, Clayton Kershaw gives up three runs, should he sulk in the corner of the dugout corner by himself, or should Howie Kendrick join him for making a wide throw to Jimmy Rollins on an attempted double play?
For a sport that’s supposedly dying (and as Craig will happily tell you, it surely isn’t), sportswriters make a frequent effort to kill any avenue in which players can show off their personalities and endear themselves to fans. If some had their way, players would be nothing more than mindless robots performing only sport-related tasks and nothing else. High-fives are awesome. Chest bumps are awesome. Uniform untucks are awesome. Celebratory mobs at home plate following a walk-off home run are awesome. Players having fun in turn makes fans have fun watching them and it’s ultimately good for the sport.