I know you’re all concerned about one major aspect of the Reds. Despite causing Great Excitement earlier in the season, the elaborate handshake action seems to have… dropped off.

Maybe they got tired of such fun. Maybe the front office found it too showy and Something Was Said. Maybe David Bell isn’t thrilled with the concept of several mulitmillion dollar players crashing into each other midair at high rates of speed. But home run and post-game celebrations have tailed off, and most players seem to be contenting themselves with the far more socially staid action of slapping one another on the butt.

How you feel about this important development depends on how you view extended player celebrations.

Let us stipulate that “oh, so the players are just supposed to stand there like robots?” is the strawiest of strawperson arguments. No one’s calling for that. Reaction to feats of strength in one’s profession are part of one’s personality. The appropriateness of celebrations varies depending upon the situation at hand, length and style of the presentation, and statistical performance to date of the celebrator. But even if Mike Trout riverdances his way to first after walking off Game 7 of the World Series, given what we’ve seen in football, the law of social media escalation dictates that at some point, this is going to result in full-scale, three-hour Broadway productions in left field. I largely prefer my joy spontaneous.

Our personal lightning rod for such controversies is one of our new additions. Derek Dietrich’s extended admiration of his handiwork during the first Pirates series was initially an unwelcome surprise; I’m largely on the “this is unprofessional; act like you’ve been there; you got a double; you’re extremely well-paid to get doubles; it’s really not necessary to invite out KISS to perform a tribute montage” team and initially found his campout at the plate overly showy. But players largely establish their own level of tolerance: The second I saw footage of the offended Pirate pitcher jogging backwards off the mound and otherwise producing his own personal music-accompanied Rozzi fireworks celebrations when acknowledging his own successes in other scenarios, I then considered Dietrich’s overly long stay at home plate justified. (This ruling was confirmed when it ultimately resulted in the greatest Rennisance work of the twenty-first century.)

That I initially classified his failure to proceed to first base as a frat move resulted from my lack of familiarity with him; in early April, Derek Dietrich was a random dude with taste in jewelry which reflected the giant plastic charm necklaces of my 80s girlhood, and I fully expected him to at some point appear at the plate with clip-on cheeseburgers, a referee whistle, and perhaps a ship’s wheel with a tiny bell dangling from his now vaunted chain. But one eyeblack mustache and beekeeping attempt later, I now understand that Dietrich wasn’t trash talking as he stood and stood and stood at home plate. He was just planning. In a free agent world, introductions to fan bases must take place quickly.

Dietrich can get away with this kind of thing because Dietrich is here to have terrible Saved By the Bell hair and hit dingers, and ballplayers are, in the end, entertainers. But they’re entertainers engaged in a measurable, wagered-upon test of skill. If the struggling Scott Schebler decided to employ his bat as a lightsaber en route to first after a walk, people are going to raise their eyebrows in his general direction.

There’s every chance that, as a team, these men have decided to cool it on the ten-minute encores until they’re at least out of the cellar or can perhaps demonstrate they can hold anything over a six-run lead for two consecutive innings. But in the meantime, I pat their butts in solidarity.


25 Responses

  1. RojoBenjy

    The TV show analogies are pure gold, MBE.

    Well done. Well done indeed.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thank you! Life is always better with a little Bayside High.

  2. matthew hendley

    I will say I have ZERO problems with DD homerun, ‘extravaganzas’ expecially on the no doubters. I have noticed that they have been somewhat reduced. Baseball, like life is partially philological as well so players should take the opportunities to improve their self worth, and destroy the same of the opponent by said actions. Alas, I have assumed that DD reduced celebration was due to being unsure of the result of the at bat. Now I know it is due to the FO/Manager interference again. A Shame.

    Excelent article MBE, well done.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Well-stated point that a great deal of baseball is between the ears and latitude should be given for great feats under great pressure. But personal celebrations every time you reach second because you wanna up your gif game (and this is starting to happen)? Nah.

      • matthew hendley

        Backlash against players flexing, but not a word when an organization flexes against another. Or did this 220 start time on a Friday of all things seem normal

  3. SultanofSwaff

    As the kids say, the Reds were flexing too hard. That’s equally uncool!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Good way to put it. I found the team things endearing and entertaining, but, if overdone, it’s kind of a bad look on a last-place team.

  4. Brian S Jolley

    Dietrich admiring his home run off Archer is the highlight of the year so far to me. That was glorious. And then to follow it up with another Allegheny ball baptism was just too much. DD is the man. He is like a Scooter who can beat you up.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      “A Scooter who can beat you up” needs to be on the back of his jersey. That itself is glorious.

      • Brian S Jolley

        I can’t picture him mad, but if he did Scrappy Doo comes to mind.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Ha! Scrappy Doo references = lit

  5. Scott C

    Well done again Mary Beth. I’m too old to catch all your cultural analogies, although I do remember my kids watching Saved By The Bell, but as an old guy I do hate the idea that after every hit threes a mini celebration. I certainly understand the home run celebrations and kind of enjoy them, except when we are getting beat a zillion to one and it is meaningless, at that point just get around the bases and back in the dugout.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      It’s probably best that you remember as little as possible of “Saved By the Bell.”

  6. jreis

    very good piece. again, just like your last piece, I will say it again. For a team that has been in dead last place 5 going on 6 years they just seem to be having too much fun. Too Loosy/Goosy and happy go lucky for my take. Where is the outrage from the players? as a fan I seem to be 100 times more upset about this teams lack of performance than the players!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thanks for the kind words! Nothing gets butts in seats like OUTRAGE

    • greenmtred

      Do we really believe that being outraged will make them play better? Or that having fun hurts their concentration or competitiveness? Baseball is a fun game to play, as I recall, and there’s too much outrage in the world, generally, as I believe.

  7. Joey

    A lot of this boils down to opinion so I’m going to go ahead and throw mine out there. I want the Reds players to be relaxed, have fun and play good baseball. Bat flips, summersaults, lightsaber duels, shenanigans in the dug out, the whole nine yards. I draw the line when the team is getting blown out and someone hits a solo home run and does decides to do that or something goofy happens in the dug out. To me as a fan it looks more like not caring than it does about enjoying the game of baseball and being passionate about it.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I think that’s a solid middle ground.

  8. Eric

    Let’s go back in time just a little bit…

    It’s 2011. Jonny Gomes walks to the plate and stares, crazily, at the pitcher as he steps into the batter’s box. He takes the first pitch for a strike.

    Gomes steps out of the batter’s box. He re-tightens the Velcro® on his left batting glove. He re-tightens the Velcro® on his right batting glove. He re-adjusts his grip on the bat, then, stepping back into the batter’s box, stares crazily at the pitcher as he raises, then lowers, then raises, then lowers, then raises, then lowers the brim of his insanely-pine-tarred batting helmet, before settling into his stance. He takes the second pitch for strike two.

    Gomes steps out of the batter’s box. He re-tightens the Velcro® on his left batting glove. He re-tightens the Velcro® on his right batting glove. He re-adjusts his grip on the bat, then, stepping back into the batter’s box, stares crazily at the pitcher as he raises, then lowers, then raises, then lowers, then raises, then lowers the brim of his insanely-pine-tarred batting helmet, before settling into his stance. He swings and misses at the third pitch, striking out – as he did in 28% of his PAs on the season.

    This flashback has been brought to you by The Society of Solzhenitsyn Reading Assignment Survivors, and a good, strong cup of coffee on a Friday. No, really. No, I’m serious.


    I don’t think DD22 is Scooter Who Can Beat You Up…but on the Scale of Baseball Eccentricity, I think he’s Gomes (77 G, 265 PA, .211/.336/.399, 11HR, 31 RBI in 2011) Who Can HIT (46G and 100 PA so far, .250/.361/.650, 12 HR, 27 RBI). And I’ll TAKE that…especially while the rest of the team can do little but cellar-dwell.


    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Gomes! Now there’s a name I’ve not heard since… well, last week when I read an article on him 🙂

  9. scotly50

    Nice work MB. Love your style. But Drolling on my boy DD. Come on, we need a counterbalance to Votto.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thanks! I heart me some DD. He’s more than welcome as far as I’m concerned 🙂