This blog has existed for nearly ten years now and for all ten of those years we’ve been talking about the unwritten rules. About deportment. About respecting the game. Acting like you’ve been there. Not showing the opposition up. Not flipping bats or calling attention to yourself. And, of course, policing the players who do do those things.
Ten years ago, I think it was pretty novel to argue that, no, bat-flipping and showboating were good things that are exciting and which can help MLB better-market its personalities. In the past few years, however, I think that stance has become the established one and the opposite — the adherence to the old school rules and behavior — is a minority view, limited to some cranky old announcers, a certain segment of players and fans of a certain age and demographic profile. We still get controversies over these things but, really, the bat-flippers and showboaters won.
If there is any doubt about that, note that Major League Baseball — with the help of a guy who was once called out for being so disrespectful as to [gasp!] wear his hat backwards — has centered its postseason marketing campaign around players doing the things that tick off the Joe Simpsons and Madison Bumgarners of the world.