Last night in the World Series there was some drama unfolding on the field. You’d expect that in Game 6 of the World Series, right? First we saw Alex Bregman unload on a Stephen Strasburg 94 MPH fastball in the bottom of the 1st inning to put the Houston Astros up 2-1. Bregman, arguably the Most Valuable Player in the American League this season, watched that baseball fly. And then he kept his bat in his hands all of the way to first base where he attempted to hand it to the first base coach as he rounded the bases.

Four innings later it was Juan Soto’s turn. And did he ever turn. The 21-year-old superstar opened up on a Justin Verlander 96 MPH fastball and put it deep into the second deck in right field. The home run broke a tie and put the Washington Nationals in front. Soto, like Bregman before him, carried the bat to first base – dropping it right before reaching his first base coach.

Both of those things were great. Baseball is fun. Alex Bregman and Juan Soto were having fun. And they were having fun on the biggest possible stage, in the most important game of their lives.

Yet here they were, being ripped on by (some) former players on social media for what they had just done. The whole “don’t disrespect the game” crowd was losing their minds over this stuff. After the game was over, Alex Bregman apologized for what he did, stating that “I just let my emotions get the best of me. It’s not how I was raised to play the game. I’m sorry for doing that.”

But then there was Amir Garrett. The Cincinnati Reds reliever was absolutely all about this.

And then followed up with this one a few innings later after the Juan Soto home run.

Baseball continues to be the lone sport where celebrating, being excited, showing some emotion after a big play is met with “don’t do that!”, “don’t disrespect the game”, or even worse – the other team purposefully trying to hurt you in situations where you have no real defense of yourself (throwing a baseball at the player). In football guys aren’t getting blindsided for doing a touchdown dance. The offensive lineman doesn’t go at a guys knee if they got excited after sacking the quarterback on third down and shows a little something. In the NBA when a player throws down a huge dunk, or hits a bit shot and celebrates, unless they are literally up in the face of a dude while doing it, they aren’t ready to take action over it. But in baseball? Watch your back.

Major League Baseball continues to promote this “let the kids play” and “we play loud” stuff. But if the players on the field actually do that? Well, the players get mad and want to fight about it. At least some of them. There is no reason at all that Alex Bregman should have felt the need to apologize for that. He was emotional in a good way. When someone apologizes for letting their emotions get the best of them, it’s usually them apologizing because they went out and did something dumb in anger. Maybe they started fighting with someone, or at the very least arguing. To apologize because your emotions led to you celebrating in some manner that threatened literally no one? Get out of here.

There’s no doubt in my mind that someone on the Astros confronted him about it afterwards and said “that’s not how we do things”. We need a lot less of that. And much like Amir Garrett said, we need more of this. The average age of the baseball fan keeps going up. The game simply isn’t exciting for younger viewers, and even “olds” like me, at 35, are getting really tired of this whole “let’s get retribution for someone having fun” stuff. It makes the game worse. And we need a lot less of things in baseball that make it worse.

12 Responses

  1. RedNat

    I still think the solution is to expand the size of these fields. players these days look like nfl linebackers weighing 230- 240 lbs. there are just too many no doubter home runs in today’s game. so the drama becomes the home run trot not the home run itself. again, it is like playing an nba game on an elementary school basketball court.

  2. Ghettotrout1

    I agree with Doug and Amir and I’m 33. Celebrating and being excited is what makes playing sports fun. I seriously can’t stand it when people give the excuse of act like you’ve been here before or thats not how the game is supposed to be played. Dude if you can’t celebrate blasting a long dong ding dong off of Stras or JV in the World Series what the hell.

    • greenmtred

      Absolutely!! I’m 73–was a fan when bean balls were common, and I’ve always thought that sort of retribution was stupid and dangerous. The only legitimate retribution is playing better.

      • Reaganspad

        And robin Ventura charges Nolan Ryan on the mound. One of my favorite baseball moments.

        Still would not have been fair if it was Jesse Ventura charging the mound

      • greenmtred

        Supposedly, Early Wynn had a standing agreement with his catcher: if the batter charges the mound, the catcher throws Early the ball immediately, so there’s Wynn, ready to throw at the charging batter.

  3. Tservo

    I’ve of two minds on this. One the one hand, I like to see players showing emotion; on the other, there is a point where you have to remember that getting a hit or home run is what they are paid to do.

    I didn’t see either of the home runs live, but it didn’t look to me like either player was carrying the bat to intentionally show up anybody else; if anything the 1st base coach whiffing on Bregman’s bat was funny by itself. I’d probably have had an issue if either player had maintained direct eye contact with the pitcher on the way to first base, but these guys, as Doug mentioned in the article, had just hit a home run in Game 7 of the World Series. I’ll give them a pass on a little exuberance.

    As for the NFL and NBA, I kind of think the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. All these choreographed touchdown dances involving the whole offense are a bit much for my taste. Especially when they go all out and have the touchdown called back (like what happened in Green Bay’s last game – three celebrations, three touchdowns called back). From that perspective, I’m with RedNat; the anticipation isn’t about whether or not they’ll score a touchdown, but rather how outlandish the celebration will be. That is what riles the grumpy old man in me (I’m only 40, but the GOM is already starting to come out). Great. You scored. Isn’t that what they pay you to do?
    Now if it’s a defensive lineman returning a fumble 70 yards or the placekicker scoring on a fake field goal, that’s cool since it doesn’t happen that often.

    Doug is right that MLB has to get its messaging straight. Punishing players for showing positive emotion will only lead to highlighting the times when tempers flare and players try to intentionally show up another player (because that’s the only emotion that is shown). How can you tell kids who idolize ballplayers to “have fun” and “play loud” but then tell them to “respect the game!” when they actually do? That is Machiavellian.

    (As a rhetorical aside though, when did sliding hard into a base , admiring a long home run , or bunting to break up a no-hitter become intentionally disrespectful? I was taught to play hard, but never try to hurt somebody on purpose. It seems like everybody is so quick to feel personally disrespected or attacked because another player gets the better of them. It’s almost like they’ve forgotten that every at bat the batter is outnumbered 9-1. In that context, its amazing that failing only 70% of the time is considered above average.)

  4. greenmtred

    Supposedly, Early Wynn had a standing agreement with his catcher: if the batter charges the mound, the catcher throws Early the ball immediately, so there’s Wynn, ready to throw at the charging batter.

  5. lost11found

    I’m all for a guy bat flipping and yelling in celebration towards his own dugout. the bat carries last night were kindof funny. I also enjoy Eaton and Kendrick’s dragracing in the dugout.

    If MLB starts favoring this they will have to get a handle on the hurdle and McCann’s of the world who get their shorts in a twist very easily. but they will also have to ride herd on the players who are chirping at the other dugout during a celebration assuming all is well.

  6. Nate

    2015. ALDS. Game 5. 7th Inning. Bautista. Bat Flip.

    If loving that is wrong I don’t want to be right.

    But I really hate, and I mean HATE “let the kids play”. They are not in high school, they are not kids. You want players to respect the game, show them some respect. /end rant.

  7. Scooter

    If Pedro Cerrano can hit a breaking ball for a dinger and carry his bat around the bases, then by god it shouldn’t be frowned upon!!

    I had no problem with either situation. As long as someone doesn’t go all Bert Campaneris out there.

    Now if a guy hits a solo shot in the 8th to pull his team within 7 runs and does it, he better catch hell from his teammates!! There’s a time and place for it, that would not be it!!

  8. Tservo

    At your age, it would seem you probably forgot why you went to the plate in the first place. Looking for the remote per chance?

  9. KDJ

    Bregman was going to first while watching to see if it stayed fair. When it did, Bregman then attempted to hand the bat to the first base coach, who tried to shake his hand instead. It was awkward and weird, but not an attempt to show up the other team. Soto’s was clear retribution for bruised sensitivities.