Earlier this week, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson hit a homer and flipped his bat.
As it has in the past, it has become a thing.
Now, baseball pretends it doesn’t like this stuff, but it does. It loves it.
Since this incident, there have been op-eds and sermons. Pearl clutching and ballyhoos.
Randal Grichuk weighed in:
Your St. Louis is showing, Grich. This made me really miss the old right fielder.
So this thought about bat flips just came to you totally at random and not at all a response to something that was all over social media and the various sports broadcasts? Do you really think we are that dumb? Oh Randal. Don’t subtweet if you don’t want to be called on it.
Also, guilty of what? Everyone knows Anderson pimped his homer. It was all over social media, which prompted you to tweet your original thought. And he’s clearly not ashamed of it.
I saw several people say, “Mike Trout doesn’t pimp homers.” Which, maybe not, but that doesn’t mean no one should. Also, didn’t Robert Manfred blame Mike Trout for his own anonymity last year?
Bat flipping shouldn’t be for all or for nobody. If you want to flip, flip away. If you want to tuck your chin and jog, that’s ok, too. Stop trying to police guys and make them be something they aren’t.
Ken Rosenthal made the argument that pitchers are so competitive they basically can’t help themselves. If a hitter flips his bat, a pitcher, driven by extreme competitive thoughts, has to retaliate.
Rosenthal dismisses the idea that pitchers should ignore bat flips and just get the hitter out. But that’s really the solution. If you don’t want to see a guy “disrespect you”, there are several options: strike him out, induce a weak ground ball to your shortstop, get a lazy flyout.
All of these lead to outs, which is the ultimate goal of any pitcher. Getting repeatedly owned by a pitcher is way more humiliating for a hitter than getting thrown at.
That’s a stat that counts. An intentional BP fastball to the ribs does not.
In the Rosenthal piece, he quotes Michael Young:
You never see it? NEVER? Sometimes a player will hit the biggest homer of his career and the opposing team’s diapers are so wet they will wait MONTHS to punish him. Sometimes the guy who doles out the punishment was in prison when the bat was flipped a season before. This is a thing that actually happened.
Because this is the United States of America in 2019, the real underlying issue is not a generational thing, it’s a race thing. The players that show emotion or bat flip tend to be Black or Latino and the ones who deemed themselves protectors of the game, who want to police how something is celebrated, tend to be White. The most egregious thing is that they want to police the behaviour with violence.
And have no doubt, throwing a hard object at 90 mph at someone with the intent to hurt them is an act of violence.
When the suspensions were announced this afternoon, the race issue was highlighted.
The announcement of the suspension is particularly rich after the MLB’s official Twitter account posted this:
It really begs the question: why do baseball players, particularly white ones, feel the need to police the game? Bud Norris said this a few years ago:
Why is this your job, Bud Norris? Who left you in charge?
And by the way, baseball has changed a hell of a lot in a hundred years. When Babe Ruth played his last season for the Red Sox in 1919, he didn’t play against guys that looked like Tim Anderson. And that’s just one thing that’s different. Not only is it ridiculous to decide the game needs to be preserved, it’s even more ridiculous pretend that it’s always been the same.
This idea that baseball is this static thing that needs to be preserved is a wrong one. Baseball needs to evolve if it wants to survive.