Baseball has always been considered America’s pastime. A nice, cold brew and hot dog on a warm summer day at the ballpark has always been a one of the best combinations. However, over recent years, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the sport. People are starting to claim it’s too boring or games take too long, or that the season stretches out for too long.
Well, there’s a new complaint surfacing over recent years. Batters are starting a trend called a “bat flip,” where the hitter smashes a no-doubt home run and they’ll usually admire their work, followed by the toss of their bat in a fashionable way. The consequences of this action seems to have baseball fans torn.
The old school fans, which is most of baseball’s fanbase, seem to be against the idea of the bat flip. They follow the code of the unwritten rules of baseball, which are basically things that are technically legal, but players refrain from doing certain things that are against these unwritten rules, such as stealing signs.
But then there are the newer generation of baseball fans, whom are most of the people who are making complaints about the length of games and the season or how boring the game is. They argue that this adds a bit of excitement to the game in which they see as a game already void of excitement.
There’s the argument that Cam Newton used during his MVP season with the Carolina Panthers, where he was being ridiculed for dancing in the end zone after touchdowns. He said, “if you don’t want me dancing in the end zone, don’t let me score.” Well, one argument could be made that if you don’t want batters admiring their work and flipping their bats, don’t let them hit homeruns.
When did this all start? Well taking a look back. One of the first occurrences where a batter flipped his bat that resulted in a reaction from the pitcher was in 2001, with then-rookie Jimmy Rollins, who hit a two-run homer off of reliever Steve Kline. Kline said to Rollins as he was trotting around the bases, “that’s fucking Little League shit!” But Rollins was far from the last player to do it.
In recent memory, one of if not the most famous bat flip was from Jose Bautista in Game five of the 2015 ALDS. Bautista hit a no-doubter that put the Blue Jays in the lead, where they would go on to win 6-3. He stood momentarily, admiring his shot, then threw his bat towards his dug out. It is his signature moment of his career. Google his name and the first thing that pops up is “Jose Bautista bat flip”. The home run ball itself even went up for auction earlier this year for nearly $3,500. It’s the signature bat flip of all bat flips.
So, what is to be done? Again, this is considered one of baseball’s unwritten rules. It’s not technically illegal to showboat after a home run. Players in other sports celebrate all the time when they accomplish such a feat, why can’t baseball players do the same? Is baseball really considered its separate entity from other sports where these unwritten rules are never meant to be broken?
Since it is considered America’s pastime, many of the long-time fans of the game don’t want to see so much change. We’ve seen numerous changes in recent years to the game, from the introduction to replays to challenge calls, to changes to mound visits and intentional walks in attempt to quicken the pace of the game. Even these minor changes saw a lot of rift created among those old school fans, and even more changes are being tested in the Atlantic League this season.
This matter has really escalated in the past few days, where Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson threw his bat towards his dugout in a celebratory manner after a home run. When he came up to the plate in his next at-bat, he was intentionally hit by Kansas City Royals pitcher Brad Keller. This resulted in a benches-clearing scuffle, leading to a suspension to both Anderson and Keller (both suspensions were for the language they used during the scuffle itself, not the action of the bat flip and intentional beam).
Another incident earlier in the year involved the Reds and Pirates bench-clearing brawl as well. Cincinnati’s Derek Dietrich hit a two-run bomb against pitcher Chris Archer, and Dietrich proceeded to take his time to admire his work as he walked down the first base line.
His next at-bat, Archer threw behind him, which lead to this legendary photo of Puig, who seemed particularly aggravated by Archer’s action, taking on the whole Pirate’s team by himself.
Personally, I kind of like the bat flip and celebration manner of admiring your work when you hit the home run. It spices things up a bit, and adds an exciting element to the game. Old school fans will hate it, but times change. Things can’t stay the same forever, so get with the times. The retaliation I do not like, however. Though they are playing at the professional level and should have the best control, but intentionally hitting someone could cause serious harm, which is a bit excessive when someone flipping their bat and showboating a bit isn’t causing any harm to anyone.
If you don’t want the batter to bat flip, then don’t let them hit home runs.