Major League Baseball had an old problem resurface this week. What said problem actually is depends on how you view it.
By now, you’ve likely heard about Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson getting plunked during Wednesday’s game against the Kansas City Royals. You’ve also surely heard the reason he got beaned was because he had the gall to flip his bat after a home run.
The king of swag 😤 pic.twitter.com/aVTvGMi7zg
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) April 17, 2019
More than a few people around the league side with the Royals on this, claiming Anderson deserved what he got. Others, like Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer, had no problem with the bat flip, claiming players should be allowed to celebrate their accomplishments.
In my opinion, Bauer is 100% right. This idea of players getting punished for showing emotion is absurd, and baseball truly should be embracing celebration as opposed to outlawing it.
Bauer shared his thoughts on MLB Network Radio yesterday, noting that he was “very much on the side of showing more emotion” in baseball. His reasoning is simple – baseball is hard. If you’re able to do something like hit a home run, you should be allowed to enjoy it.
Per Bauer, he doesn’t see something like a bat flip as “showing someone up,” it’s just a well-earned chance to celebrate. He went on to say doing so was good for the game, and is something the fans want to see.
Yet, there are still many who side against Anderson. There are those who see the concept of a bat-flip as a player rubbing it in the face of his opponent. Not only is this “disrespectful,” it also makes it OK for a pitcher to throw at said player the next time he comes to the plate. After all, he deserves it.
That there are still this many people who feel this way about the concept of celebrating in baseball blows my mind. A player who flips a bat shouldn’t automatically earn a fastball to the body. Getting fired up about hitting a home run shouldn’t be seen as some sign of disrespect.
As Bauer said, this sport is not easy, especially the part involving hitting a ball over a fence 400 feet away. When you’re able to do that, you should be allowed to soak it in.
Sure, there’s still a line. Bauer made a point to say this situation is different if the batter is making things personal, aiming his antics directly at the pitcher.
Still, that’s not what Anderson did. All he did was flip his bat towards his Chicago’s dugout to get his team fired up. Or, based on how some viewed it, Anderson committed a crime.
Another great point Bauer made was the simple fact nobody seems to get upset when an entire dugout celebrates a home run. The guy who hit it flips his bat, and he’s suddenly a marked man. His teammates go over the top in a location slightly off the field, nobody says a word.
Bottom line – this thought process of “oh he’s showing me up, he’s earned some chin music” is archaic. It suffocates fun from a sport which is ironically having trouble resonating with a younger audience. It promotes a message that baseball is where the concept of enjoying yourself goes to die.
It’s also incredibly dangerous.
How’s a hitter supposed to defend himself? A pitcher who can throw a plus-90 fastball is wielding a weapon. He’s also unleashing said weapon because the hitter he’s throwing at had the gall to…look at a home run longer than an unwritten rule stipulates.
Despite this, too many people still view beaning a player who caused no physical harm beyond hurting someone’s ego as a “punishment fits the crime” situation. One would think this concept is easy to understand, yet here we are, hearing Bauer explain why celebrating in baseball is OK to an audience which wholeheartedly disagrees with him.
The idea that baseball players are supposed to be mindless drones, or that celebrating a home run is a serious offense and not just someone enjoying their accomplishments is absurd. It creates a message that says, “you can enjoy yourself while playing this game, as long as you know you’ve earned a four-seamer to the skull.”
This is the kind of thinking that hurts the game, not the belief that bat-flips should be illegal. Bauer gets it, and considering the fact pitchers are the ones who take the most offense from celebrating, I’d like to think his words would resonate more than most.