Let’s say a batter launches a baseball 400+ ft. over the fence of your favorite ballpark. Upon contact, before the batter can even make a post-swing step from the box, he knows it is gone.
What should the batter do next? Among his options:
- He may gently place his bat on the ground and circle the bases at a crisp pace.
- He may immediately flip his bat before a hop or skip into a leisurely stroll around the bases.
- Or, perhaps he stares it down and takes a handful of seconds to admire his work before disposing of his bat. Our final scenario looks something like this:
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 10, 2021
On Friday night, Ronald Acuña Jr. sparked a discussion on the matter following the above 456 ft. fifth-inning homer off Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler, a two-run missile that put the Braves in front.
Baseball is weird.
Purists talk about the unwritten rules of the game, rules that state self-congratulation is wrong and excessive celebration is disrespectful, among many other things. In turn, any violation of said unwritten rules warrants a fastball at the ribs or back of the offender or select associate of the offender during a later plate appearance.
Many believe a failure to deliver this subsequent purpose pitch signals softness and is an affront to the way the game should be played. For instance:
I’m disappointed the Phillies did not plunk Acuna after he admired his home run ball for so long before running. I know a lot of young fans like these antics. I don’t. It’s not how the game should be played, and if it is played that way a pitcher should do something about it.
— Joe DeCamara (@JoeDeCamara) April 10, 2021
Let’s be clear, I’m not picking on Joe. He certainly isn’t alone in this opinion — he just happened to best summarize it.
Many people feel that it is up to a team’s pitching staff to rectify a competitive slight, whether it be real or perceived.
The post-home run celebration is one of the few natural opportunities provided within the framework of baseball to market the individual personalities of its players. Perhaps whatever disrespect the unwritten rules suggest must be felt by the opponent should be tabled in favor of understanding that optimizing organic player marketing creates more interest in the sport and more money.
I hear money is important to owners and players. Is that true?
Baseball, you may have heard, has struggled in recent years with its efforts to appeal to a younger generation. Along emerges a natural way for a player to showcase himself, have some fun, and fire up his teammates. Let’s make sure we shut that shit down right away with 95+ at the ribs the next time he gets in there.
Only with baseball does this conversation seem to happen.
An interior defensive lineman beats a guard, makes a tackle for a three-yard loss, runs five more yards up the field and does a little dance to fire everybody up. We don’t have this conversation.
A guard beats his defender off the dribble, goes up and dunks over a hapless forward who’s late to the spot. The guard lands, stares down the “posterized” defender, shows the arena and viewers at home his recent bicep work. No problem.
But if a hitter stares down a homer like he’s about to enter a boxing ring before a match, it is a problem. After all, pitchers don’t do stuff like this, so why should they? Oh wait!
Craig Kimbrel, Overpowering 97mph Fastball…and K Strut. 🔥⛽️ pic.twitter.com/SxNl8pOPKe
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 8, 2021
Gregory Soto, Dirty 89mph Slider…and 🔥 K Strut. pic.twitter.com/PJ2YDFfNEQ
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 6, 2021
Stro K Strut. [MLB regular season K Strut leader]
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 7, 2021
This, by the way, all of this, is good. It’s fun. It’s interesting. There’s nothing wrong with any of this.
Here’s a take. If a team doesn’t like how an opposing player celebrates, it should be less concerned with restoring order by drilling him and more concerned by returning the favor during a blast, key strikeout or big play of its own. Want to get a guy back? Someone in the lineup should step up, mash one 420+ ft. and send the bat to the f***** moon before departing for first base.
Similarly, if a pitcher doesn’t like a certain celebration after getting beat, perhaps he paints a corner, blows it by the guy, or buckles his knees the next time that batter is at the plate.
And before we do the righteous “this is how I was taught respect and honor” thing or wax poetic about baseball’s unwritten rules, please tell me about the honor of wanting a pitcher to potentially inflict physical injury with 95+ at the ribs simply because he got beat by a hitter who looked at a baseball two seconds longer than what your interpretation of the unwritten rules suggests is allowable.
Let these guys have fun, be themselves, and do their thing.