In the last several years a big trend has taken over the game of baseball. The art of “bat flipping” after hitting a home run. It seems like it has become a fucking Olympic sport…and everyone loves it…from the biggest stars to the minor league journey man who barely has any dirt in his spikes. Even the fans, media, and the MLB have encouraged this nonsense on all their social media platforms. It seems the bigger the bat flip the bigger the attention on social media and followers for said player. With all the young players that have grown up in the social media age who are now in the big leagues it makes sense that they realize the more visible they are the more followers they will obtain, which equals more money and more popularity. No wonder they are eating this shit up.
Guys that feel the need to bat flip after a homer are secretly unconfident in their ability and are actually surprised when they hit a homer. It’s actually a sign of insecurity. You hardly ever see a superstar do it. It’s usually the mid-level player who isn’t getting the attention the super stars are. Or the rookie who just got to the league attempting to get on Sports Center to impress his high school friends back home.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m all about enjoying a home run in a big situation. As a matter of fact when I would hit one in a big spot I would take a couple steps to enjoy the trajectory and the moment, then drop the bat, and jog steadily around the bases. Guys in today’s game are hitting solo home runs and pimping the shit out of them when their team is down 11-1 in the 8thinning. This type of player is the worst! It says “this is all about me.”
I’ve played my fair share of games with these kinds of players and they aren’t hard to notice. They are the ones who are pouting in their locker after the game, going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, despite the teams win. In this situation said player will be the first to shower and get out of the clubhouse before the media gets there to interview him. The very next game said player will go 3 for 4 with two home runs and a team loss but… he will be chatting it up with everyone on the team in a somber post game locker room. He will be the last one to leave making sure he gets every media outlet to interview him before he leaves. This type of teammate is selfish as fuck and typically, these are the type of guys that are the attention whores on the diamond. The fist pumping pitcher and the bat flipping homerun guy. These players love the attention as it feeds their toxic, narcissistic ego.
I was never a narcissistic player…as a matter of fact, if anything, I was secretly self-doubting most of my big league career. I laid low, not really wanting to engage in media interviews or social media. I never had social media accounts when I played. I didn’t want the distraction and the shit talking from keyboard “tough guys” who remained anonymous. Many of my teammates didn’t know I was an introvert. They didn’t see it because I put on a fake confident front in the locker room while I fueled myself with booze nightly, and later in my career, Adderall to mask it all.
I wanted to hide on the field most games, and that’s why I never bat flipped or made a spectacle of myself. Well on the field anyway. Off the field was a different story for another blog.
I take that back. Actually I did make a spectacle of myself once in between the lines. But it was well justified.
As much as I hate bat flippers…
I hate pitchers fist pumping and celebrating excessively on a meaningless strike out much more!
In 2009 while with the Baltimore Orioles I was due to hit third late in the game. A game we were losing badly in Yankee stadium. A pitching change was made and I watched as Joba Chamberlain came lumbering out of the Yankee bullpen. Joba had some early success in the bigs in his young career and he knew it. He was well known for getting overly excited when striking out guys, even in blowout situations. On this particular day he really had good stuff. Fastball was reaching 95-98 and his curveball was devastating. He struck out my first two teammates as I strode to the plate. He was ahead with two fastballs that I was late on, then dropped a curveball on me on a 0-2 count to strike me out.
He made me look foolish.
I dropped my helmet and bat at home plate, and heard a deafening scream coming from the mound.
I watched as Joba jumped high in the air and did a “360” hurricane fist pump. It looked like he was having a seizure. We were losing by like a million runs and his circus act seemed excessive given the situation. At this point in my career I had been in the big leagues for nine years and was not thrilled with this youngsters shenanigans.
I was taken back to my days as a rookie for the Tampa Bay Rays where I had plenty of veteran leaders who I looked up to. Guys like Fred McGriff, Wade Boggs, Randy Winn, Ozzie Timmons and Vinny Castilla. These veteran guys showed me the ropes and how to play the game the right way. To never show up the pitcher and never bring unwanted attention to yourself. They told me that this game will humble you, and that nobody is bigger than the game.
I’ll never forget what Fred McGriff once told me, “If you pimp a homerun and I get drilled, it’s your ass rookie.” Needless to say I didn’t want to get one of my teammates smoked because I was being a dipshit. I knew that if I showed up any pitcher the way Chamberlain showed me up I would have been bitch slapped by one of those vets.
Today’s game is unfortunately void of vets to police these younger, entitled “everyone gets a trophy” generation of players.
What I have come to understand today is I was playing in what I like to call the “transitional period of baseball.” This was a period of baseball where the game was beginning to weed out veteran guys and get younger…and with youth comes immaturity.
I remember being back in the dugout vowing to my teammates that I was going to teach young Joba a lesson when I “took him deep.” This was a little kid who needed a good spanking.
As the weeks went on I would occasionally see highlights of Joba showing up guys in the league and veteran superstars. The media and the fans were eating this shit up. Not only locally in New York but league wide. The baseball shows encouraged his fist pumping ways. They even came up with a catchy slogan for him…“Joba Rules.” It was no wonder he continued to show guys up. He was buying into the hype as many of the young bat flipping, fist pumping players do today.
About a month later in Baltimore the Yankees came to town.
And wouldn’t you know it… Joba was starting that game. With two runners on I took Joba deep to right center in the bottom of the first inning. As I rounded first I mockingly and triumphantly yelled at the top of my lungs while looking directly at him and shoving my fist high in the air. As I crossed home plate I screamed and threw my fist in the air once again just in case Joba missed it the first time. Much to the approval of my awaiting teammates Adam Jones and Brian Roberts. I’ll never forget Adam’s face. He was laughing his ass off. I did it not because I wanted revenge, but wanted Joba to know if you’re going to dish it out you better be able to take it.
That’s what I want young players to know today. Since MLB is promoting the slogan “Let the kids play” I think it’s only fair to warn these kids. If you want to fist pump or bat flip fine, more power to you. But you can’t expect to not get fucking drilled the next time you’re up to bat.
Case in point Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson. In a recent game against the Kansas City Royals the talented shortstop hit an absolute bomb in the bottom of the fourth inning that sailed towards the left field stands at Guaranteed Rate field in Chicago. After Tim hit the ball he stood there watching its trajectory, chest out, head held high.
Which would have been fine until…
He turned towards his dugout and threw his bat at his dugout violently. The distance and violence in which he threw it could have killed a bat kid. It pissed of the Royals and understandably so. In his next at bat in the bottom of the sixth Royals pitcher Brad Keller hit Tim right in the ass and justifiably so. Brad didn’t throw at his head, he simply did what he needed to do.
I saw this entire scene unfold in front of me and I couldn’t help but tweet about it. Here’s a reply I made to a current player on the Jays, Randal Grichuk, who needless to say I agreed with. I didn’t tweet this myself, I simply replied: “It’s so annoying seeing guys hitting .210 with 2 career homers pimping shit. Get some dirt in your spikes before pulling that shit or reap the 100 to the head.”
Ok so the “100 to the head” may have been a little excessive but who’s to say someone may do that one day. Needless to say the twitter trolls came out in defense of bat flippers everywhere. I sadly realized that the days when players universally respected the game and played it right are long gone. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are players out there that still play it right without wanting all the recognition and showboating. But they are becoming few and far between.
Guys like Mike Trout, Paul Goldshmidt, Buster Posey, Cody Bellinger, Christrian Yelich, J.D Martinez, Adam Jones, Freddie freeman and Nolan Arenado. These guys play with excitement and passion but you never see them show anyone up.
Why? Because they don’t have to. They let their bats do the talking. They don’t feel the need to fucking flip them. They don’t feel the need to show up a less talented player. When you show people up bad shit happens and you shouldn’t act surprised when they do throw at you, as young Tim Anderson did.
Listen, I’m not here to write this as some bitter old man #getoffmylawn guy who doesn’t like to have fun. I believe you should have fun playing baseball. But there is a big difference in having fun and showing off. Many of today’s players will just quote some bullshit like, “I’m a very passionate and energetic player. I’m just gonna be me out there.” That’s such a crock of shit. These guys know what is at stake and its recognition and money. The more outlandish and in your face the more the media and fans will love them. Unfortunately this is the type of game that isn’t going anywhere. It’s here to stay.