Re-Write The Rules.

Just prior to the start of the Major League Baseball playoffs, Major League Baseball released this video which includes a voice over and cameo appearance by Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr.

We’ve watched this video several times and we still can’t figure out what it is trying to say.

MLB has always been against the showboating types of displays such as watching home runs, flipping bats, pointing at players on the other team, etc. It is a form of taunting which generally leads to someone getting a 90+ mph fastball in their ribs.

Now this video seems to be saying “let players do what was previously unthinkable and considered unsportsmanlike.”

Baseball is a game of emotion. Without it, baseball would be boring beyond belief. No one is asking that that all emotion be taken out of the game as some would suggest.

Think of some of the big moments in MLB history. The Carlton Fisk walk off home run in game 6 of the 1975 has Fisk watching the ball, waving and willing it fair, and then celebrating as he runs the bases.

Who can forget Kurt Gibson’s home run in game 1 of the 1988 World Series? Gibson watches the ball for a moment and then drags his bad leg around the bases celebrating with an arm in the air.

Or even Joe Carter’s walk off home run to win the 1993 World Series? (The only time a walk off home run decided the World Series.) Carter watched the ball and then literally skipped around the bases.

No one complained about the way those players handled the home run or their celebration as they circled the bases.

So what is different between those accepted celebrations and the ones in the MLB video above?

What may be different is the attitude the players are exhibiting. With bat flips and staring at home runs today, there is a sense that the player is saying “look at me. Look what I did.”

The Carter, Fisk, and Gibson home runs don’t celebrate what the players have done, but what the team had accomplished.

That may be the difference.

One is “look at me” and the other “look at our team.”

We aren’t fans of the “look at me” celebration. Unless that player batted, pitched, caught, fielded ground balls, etc, for the entire game, he is part of a team. His teammates have gotten him into position to win a game. To celebrate as if a player is there only because of their actions seems wrong to us.

(Oddly enough we watched a show on ESPN where talking heads claimed that the “old unwritten rules” were racist because the bat flippers, watchers of home runs, etc., are Latin players who come from Latin countries. Apparently in those countries the “look at me” actions are acceptable and even encouraged. To say that Latin players should adopt the unwritten rules of not taunting is somehow “racist.”)

All we know is that when players celebrate the “me,” the opposing team can and will retaliate. Be prepared for more pitchers screaming at batters who strike out in big moments. Or batters who ground out. Or shortstops standing over players at second base who were tagged out while trying to steal or the first half of a double play. Watch the game slowly degenerate into 54 instances of taunting and fastballs in the ribs.

The bottom line to us is that you can still celebrate big moments. You can still “act like a kid” playing the game of your youth.

You just can’t act like a selfish, self centered jerk.

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