Padres infielder Ian Kinsler went into last night’s game against the Pirates hitting .171/.230/.316. He’s gotten a lot of heat from Padres fans for that. Some players let that kind of thing get to them, some don’t. Kinsler’s behavior last night made it pretty clear that it’s been getting to him.
We know this because when Kinsler hit a go-ahead three-run homer in last night’s game against the Pirates he flipped his bat — and it was a pretty sweet flip — and when he crossed the plate he raised both hands up, looked into the crowd and dropped some f-bombs which seemed to be aimed directly at the hometown fans:
I can’t read lips well, but it seems to me he’s saying “F*** you, f*** all you” as he crossed the plate. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that once Kinsler got to the dugout he said “F*** every single one of these F***s,” as he put his helmet in the bin at the end of the dugout. The words were, apparently, audible on the original broadcast of the game.
After the game Kinsler, likely knowing the stir he created, tried to backpedal, claiming that it was motivational, aimed at his teammates and had nothing to do with the fans at all:
Which was not super convincing. Especially given that his own manager didn’t buy it. Andy Green:
“We as professionals should handle that displeasure in a more positive way than it was handled today. With [Kinsler], he knows that. He’s played the game a long time . . . Clearly not expressed well today. Ultimately, though, he’s a passionate baseball player.”
When reporters got back to Kinsler to tell him that Green seemed to think he was out of line, Kinsler kept insisting that it was an inside joke and/or motivational thing with teammates and that “[Green] doesn’t know all the jokes.” So, OK.
At this point it’s probably worth remembering that, even if it was just “motivation” or “emotion,” back in 2017 Kinsler had very different ideas about such . . . exuberance on the field, at least when Puerto Rican or Dominican players exhibited it:
I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays. That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this going forward. On the one hand, Kinsler, who is signed through 2020 on a two-year, $8 million deal, is considered a veteran leader on the Padres and has, apparently, earned considerable respect from younger players despite his poor play. On the other hand he is a poor-hitting nearly 37-year-old player who has turned the fan base into his enemy at a time when the Padres are trying to get the city behind their young, promising team.
I’m not sure which one of those factors is more important to the Padres front office, but something tells me that, if and when a roster crunch happens — and one always happens — Kinsler is not going to get the same benefit of the doubt he might’ve gotten before last night, two-year contract or no two-year contract.
Here’s the homer. Watch it for the flip. And for MLB, not surprisingly, ending the clip before Kinsler crosses home plate.