(That’s every home run that Mike Trout has ever hit. You’re welcome.)
The bat-flip conversation was red hot after Jose Bautista tossed his bat in the air after he crushed a go-ahead, three-run home run in the decisive game against the Texas Rangers in last year’s ALDS. It died down a little bit over the offseason, until Bryce Harper fanned the flames last week with him comments that baseball is “tired” because baseball players can’t express themselves.
The comments sparked a sport-wide debate, which had Goose Gossage dropping his hot takes that bat-flips made players like Yoenis Cespedes, Bautista, and presumably Harper, a “fucking disgrace to the game.” It’s been an interesting debate, because there really is no right or wrong answer here. Either you enjoy seeing it as a fan or a player, or you don’t. As a fan, I obviously side with Harper here, and I enjoy a great bat-flip now and then in moderation. But that’s the key — in moderation.
I don’t need the back-up catcher flipping his bat after hitting a home run that barely got over the fence in the third inning to bring his team within seven runs of the lead. There’s a time and a place, and I’d like to think that most players, not named Manny Ramirez, know when that time and place is. I remember Manny flipping his bat and posing at home plate after he hit a home run during the 2007 postseason, even though the Red Sox were getting smoked. Even as a Red Sox fan, and a bat-flip enthusiast, that pissed me off. So the timing is the key factor here.
But the face of Major League Baseball himself, Mike Trout, is not a big fan of bat-flips, and you will never see him flip his bat after a homer.
“As a pitcher, I’d be pretty upset,” Trout said.
And would Trout say that such a demonstrative batter would be showing up the pitcher?
“It definitely would be,” the 24-year-old said.
Harper said the sport would be more popular if players could show exuberance.
“I just keep it the same,” Trout said. “I don’t try to show anybody up. Whatever somebody else does, that’s what they do.”
Trout said there is no chance he would flip his bat after a home run, even if he might try it during batting practice every now and then.
“We mess around in the cage and stuff,” he said. “During the game, I just hit the ball and go. I go out there and try to respect the game. I go out there and play. My parents always taught me to be humble.”
Hey, if that’s your thing, and you’re not a bat-flip guy, that’s more than fine with me. Like I said, we don’t need everybody doing it, because then it’s not special anymore, and it’ll get watered down. It’s supposed to be an exciting moment, an exclamation point on a significant at-bat, and not something that everybody does all the time.
But he kind of ducked the question of, don’t you think that the sport would be more popular if players could show more emotion? He didn’t ask you what you do or what you prefer. He asked you if showing more emotion is better for the game, and the answer to that question is yes, it most certainly is. And it’s not like Trout is a robot that shows no emotion — he does. And it’s exciting when he does.
And the guys at HBT made a great point — you don’t want to flip your bat because it shows up the pitcher, but wouldn’t pumping your fist after making a great catch be showing up the hitter? The point is, it shouldn’t be frowned upon. None of it. It’s what the fans want to see, and that’s really all that matters.