I’ve had a few interesting conversations online in the wake of last night’s Cardinals-Braves games. Specifically, conversations about Ronald Acuña’s failure to hustle on a ball he thought was a homer which caused him to turn a double into a single and, in turn, caused the Braves’ seventh inning to end earlier than it should’ve. Bill wrote about that here. I was critical of Acuña on Twitter last night.
The conversations I’ve had basically go like this: “Craig, you are constantly going after people who call out other players for being lazy or lack of hustle, or not playing the right way, so aren’t you a hypocrite for calling out Acuña now?”
The answer is no. And I’m not sure how anyone even plausibly argue yes.
Acuña’s acts objectively cost his team last night. That’s worthy of objective criticism because objectively harming your team is bad. Contrast this to what one often sees in bat flip or showboating situations — often in the abstract — where people throw out blanket character and/or generational indictments. When people are doing that or when they’re lauding hustle culture for its own sake, divorced from concrete examples in which a player harms anyone with his acts, something else is going on.
Put a lot more simply, tell me if you can spot the difference between these two situations:
1. A guy stands outside your infant’s nursery window with a boom box cranked up to 11 while she’s trying to take a nap and wakes her up. You say “that’s bad, you should not do that, Mr. boom box man.”
2. A guy sits in his La-Z-Boy and says, to no one in particular, “kids who listen to loud music are worthless punks! We never did that in my day! They should listen to music the right way!”
If you can’t spot the difference between those to scenarios, sorry, I can’t help you.
Which is to say that it’s rather important to determine whether anyone is harmed by the act in question or, alternatively, it’s merely a matter of someone’s tender sensibilities being offended.
I’ll grant this much: if you show you’re incapable of knowing the difference between a ball that is going out and one that is going to bounce off the wall, yeah, you’ve probably lost your showboating privileges for a while. Now that Acuña has cost the Braves in a critical situation, his leash is shorter. I’m guessing that he’s been told that by his manager and his teammates.