How DARE those ballplayers have fun?

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Phil Mushnick of the New York Post does what he does best (i.e. the only thing he does so, by default, it’s what he does best) today, which is angrily decrying any athlete who shows any sort of fun, exuberance or personality on the field/court/diamond/ice. That just about every athlete who does these things to offend Mushnick is black or Latino is a total coincidence, I’m sure, but we’ll leave that for another day.

Anyway, he’s on about Edwin Encarnacion today, and how on Friday he hit a homer and did his arm-up, walk the parrot thing, which he’s been doing for a couple of years now. As far as home run celebrations it’s pretty tame. Far less than what Jeffrey Leonard was doing with his flap-down thing back in the day, even if Mushnick defers to “old timers” who would never do things like that who happen to have been Leonard’s contemporaries. But again, never mind such inconsistencies.

What I like is how Mushnick talks about Paul O’Neill and David Cone talked about it all on the Yankees’ broadcast:

“Does that bother you, Coney?” O’Neill asked David Cone. And it likely bothered O’Neill, or he wouldn’t have asked.

What we know personally and professionally about Cone is he must hate it; hate it as a former pitcher, a dad, a sportsman and a right-headed human.

Except he then quotes Cone, who says he really has no problem with it and explains that it’s Encarnacion’s game, he and his fellow players have defined it and if they’re OK with it, he’s OK with it. Mushnick’s explanation: Cone must be forced to say what he doesn’t believe on the air and that, in his heart, he MUST agree with Mushnick’s old man take on it.

It’s bad enough that there are people who are so utterly joyless that they see sports the way Mushnick does. As the most serious possible undertaking, requiring some level of respect, humility that would make a medieval cleric say “damn, dude, lighten up, maybe?” But it’s another thing altogether to assume that most other people must feel that way too, including all “dads” and “right-headed humans.”

Sports is often, and maybe even usually fun for players. It’s entertainment for all of us. Let the players have fun and let the audience be entertained. What’s so hard about that?