If you flip your bat here, the No Fun Police will get on your case. As Andrew Keh of the New York Times reports today, however, in Korea it ain’t no big thing:
In the United States, the bat flip exists on the abstruse list of behaviors considered rude and worthy of confrontation. In Korea, the flip is, well, just a flip. No one cares. This cultural variance, combined with the world-shrinking influence of social media, has created a disjointed international sports milieu in which players like Hwang have been celebrated, derided and debated in a language they do not understand for a move they regard as involuntary.
You tend to see the most vigilant, conservative resistance to something just before that conservative, resisting stance is just about to become extinct. It’s obvious when it comes to important things such as civil rights-related issues. I mean, who was talking about “the sanctity of marriage” in 1985? All of that became a big thing because some conservative people felt threatened and worried that their conventional way of life was somehow under attack. There are countless historical examples of this. But you also see it when it comes to extremely unimportant cultural habits or conventions too.
The whole play-the-game-the-right-way thing was not talked about nearly as much 25 years ago or even longer ago as it is now. Hell, Jimmy Piersall ran the bases backwards after his 100th career homer in 1963 and people thought it more funny or eccentric than anything else. Today it would inspire hard quotes in the clubhouse, some beanballs and maybe a think piece or seven. But as more and more players came into the league challenging boring old conventions, the No Fun Police have become far more vocal. Thus the incidents we’ve seen in the past few years following bat flips, home run trots and — gasp! — batters getting mad that they didn’t get good wood on the ball.
My guess: eventually we’ll see more bat flips and silliness. And eventually it will be a norm here, just like it is in Korea. Which will be really cool. No matter what the No Fun Police think about it.