Friday, June 5, 2015


There’s been a ton of chatter recently about good and bad sportsmanship in this great game of baseball. For several months, we've heard of different antics. You remember the Melky Cabrera crotch chop toward the Atlanta crowd when he was a San Francisco Giant and about Carlos Gomez when he flipped his bat last season?

That resulted in a brawl and a shiner on Travis Snider’s face and a lot of suspensions and Russell Martin wanting to fight the world.  Why did it really have to get that bad? We’re animals, aren’t we?

The latest comes from Junior Lake of the Cubs just the other day.  He hit a monster home run for the Cubs, down 6-0 against the Marlins. But then he watched it, and then he flipped his bat, and then, as he was rounding third, he looked in the Marlins dugout and told them to "shhhhh". That didn't go over too well. Here's the video:

A taunt. Kind of classless, and the bench clearing that followed... well, it's kind of expected with that behavior, isn't it?

Look, I love the celebration, but here’s what I hate; I hate when players crank one and are standing in the batter’s box just watching it sail away. To me, as your opponent, that's a showboat and I will go high and tight on you.  I hated when Melky Cabrera crotch chopped in Atlanta. It showed his immaturity. Hell, this isn't even a "celebration" but to this day, I still think that throwing Don Zimmer to the ground, no matter how crazy that old man seemed in that moment, was totally out of line. When you are in the moment, you really need to NOT let your emotions get the best of you. Be a ballplayer, show respect, show class.  Know the line when having your celebration, you know what I mean?

Celebrating in baseball has been going on for decades, and there is nothing better than true excitement sometimes. Seeing Joe Carter jumping up and down when the Blue Jays won is legit, justified, genuine and amazing for this great game.

I can even fall in love with the Rafael Soriano “Untuck”.  It’s the “Game over, we won  and I’m going home” razzing that I can get on board with. That's because these examples have essentially "ended" the competition.  If we didn’t have that type of celebrating, how much fun would baseball be? How much fun would any sport be for that matter?

Look at Ali and boxing for example. Muhammad Ali was a trash talker, but he put his money where his mouth was.  He intimidated his opponent. He taunted them, but he backed it up and yes, he was the greatest.  Fernando Rodney’s arrow in the air after a win and a save? Hey, I don’t personally like it, but it should be allowed... it's in the "Untuck" category.

You want to dance in the end zone after a big touchdown, I say go for it. But if you're pointing at your opponent, maybe giving him the “I’m gonna slit your throat” symbol, well, that’s gangsta shit.  Don’t do that. You will get your ass kicked.  Junior Lake and his "shhhhh" goes into that category... it's the same thing.

Celebrating in sports, in baseball… well, there’s a fine line. If you’re not threatening anyone, be it a fan, opposing team, go for it.  The moment you’re in someone’s face telling them you’re “gonna kick their ass" or taunting... it's just bad sportsmanship. It's JV.

That's why you  gotta love Jeet.  He was all class. I’m a fan of the fist pump. It's classic.  Derek Jeter did it a lot. It’s contained, meaning, it’s the feeling of celebration without shoving it in the face of the opponent. It’s a team achievement, maybe a personal one.  It's a stepping stone… one game at a time.  By the time the championship is over, go nuts. But if you're crotch chopping toward the other dugout, "shhhing" the other team to make an empty point, well... you’re an idiot.  In a championship, many times there are sad faces in the loser’s dugout. Some refuse to watch the celebration. Others will stare at it, sad, annoyed and wondering what went wrong.  But those guys know, that’s the game, especially after it's over.

We are baseball fans. We are savages, but we understand the game of baseball and what competition is.  We love our characters, but we also respect the game.  What started out as a bat flip from Carlos Gomez last year turned into a mess. It didn’t have to be.  Next time Junior Lake homers... let's hope he remembers to respect the game and respect the opponent, or I'm pretty sure he'll get one between the numbers.

Celebration is fine. It's the arrogance, the taunt that I just don't get.

I don't know... I just needed to get that off my chest I guess.

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