Let Them Flip Bats

What are we doing? It’s 2019. Why are we still throwing baseballs at each other and fighting about it?

I understand that baseball players police themselves by throwing at each other. Getting thrown at is enough to deter me from doing something to piss off a pitcher. I don’t care who you are, getting hit by a fastball anywhere hurts, so it’s understandable why a guy would get mad after getting hit.

What we have now is a vicious cycle of guys pimping homers and bat flipping, getting beaned, then angrily and more emphatically flipping a bat the next chance he gets. It needs to end. Major League Baseball has to do something and it’s really not that difficult a decision to make.

Fighting is commonplace in hockey, for now. It’s an acceptable part of the sport, but there are rules. Once the fighters hit the ice, the referees intervene and the bout is done. The NBA was once a place where fighting was as common as the NHL. That is, of course, until Dec. 9, 1977 when Rudy Tomjanovich got his face broken by Kermit Washington. After that, the NBA cracked down on fighting and made moves to eliminate it entirely.

Fast forward to May 2007 when Phoenix Suns players Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were suspended for “leaving the bench area” during a fracas in a playoff game. Between these two sports, the fighting is either regulated or rules have been put into place to eliminate it. MLB, take notes.

On April 17, 2019, Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson pimped the ever-living hell out of a dinger in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals, and it was amazing. However, the fun police showed up as Royals pitcher Brad Keller plunked Anderson in the left butt cheek. The benches cleared, there was pushing and shoving, four ejections and accompanying suspensions.

MLB is hypocritical in its dealing with base-brawls and this so-called “policing” of the game. Commissioner Rob Manfred is on a crusade to improve pace of play and get games moving faster. But you’re going to allow for a stoppage of play while guys throw fake punches and push each other around on the field? There’s an easy way to rid the game of these nonsensical fights. Adopt the rule that got Stoudemire and Diaw suspended from a playoff basketball game.

If a player leaves the dugout or bullpen to join or start a melee, he should be automatically suspended for two games.

I chose two games because it’s the equivalent a one-game suspension in the NBA. A batter would think twice about charging the mound if he’s out there on his own in a 9 v 1 brouhaha (or 9 v 2 if the on-deck batter joins the fray).

The bigger problem here is the sensitivity of pitchers. The NBA is a place where it’s well understood that getting dunked on, crossed over, or allowing a big 3-pointer is grounds for getting taunted or mocked. The method for retaliation is a tit for tat. In the NBA, you get the guy back by dunking on him, crossing him over, or answering with a 3-pointer.

I understand that through the history of baseball, pitchers have been the guys in charge of making sure everybody is respecting the game and playing it the “right way.” Well, times change. Rather than hit the guy, strike him out. Throw your nastiest pitch and show him who owns the field, then go a little bit above and beyond with that fist pump or snap the glove down with emphasis upon the return of the ball.

I see nothing wrong with bat flips. In fact, I love them. The NFL allows celebrations after touchdowns and NBA players get in each other’s faces after monster dunks and epic 3-pointers. Fewer home runs are hit per game than either touchdowns are scored or highlight reel plays in the NBA, so why not celebrate it with the same euphoria?

Pitchers are too sensitive about guys showboating home runs and get overly upset by bat flips. It’s time for pitchers to grow up and throw strikes.

You know what I’d love to see a pitcher do after he strikes that guy out a couple of innings later? Celebrate. Do anything he wants. Thump his chest, bark at the batter, do a dance, whatever. You know why? Baseball’s supposed to be fun. A little bit of trash talk never hurt anybody. You know what does? A fastball that doesn’t hit a batter in the butt. It only takes one to get away and hit a guy in the head and do some serious damage.

Let’s stop intentionally throwing baseballs at one another while calling it “policing the game.” Rather, let’s call a spade a spade. It’s poor sportsmanship.

Brad Curnow

Brad has had a passion for baseball since he could walk up to a batting tee. He learned how to throw a 2-seam fastball before he could write his own name. He grew up in the sport as a catcher with great coaches who taught him to love and respect the game and the team. Brad joins Baseball Together with a love for baseball and a passion to share it with others.

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