Ever since Goose Gossage opened the floodgates with his rant about Jose Bautista being a “fucking disgrace to the game” because of his bat-flip in last year’s postseason, it seems like everybody and anybody has been coming out of the woodwork to give their two cents. Next in line is Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt.
If you watched the great Roberto Clemente, you’d see a flair for stylish play. The most intimidating and emotionally gifted player ever probably was Pete Rose. No player ever incited the opponent and ignited his team more.
Why do so many players today feel the need to embellish their success with some sort of hand signal to the dugout? What got more attention in last year’s post-season than a bat toss by Jose Bautista? Pointing to the sky is child’s play compared to that moment in the post-season on national TV. A flagrant disrespect of the opponent like that would have gotten somebody hurt back in the day.
I’m sure baseball fans are as tired of reading about this issue as I am about writing about it, but I’m more confused than ever about Schmidt’s stance here. Is the issue bat-flips here, or is it just “embellishing their success”, because Schmidt is guilty of that. And by “guilty”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he did something wrong, but he absolutely “embellished his success” after he hit his 500th career home run.
It’s not a bat-flip, but it’s definitely a celebration that isn’t exactly “contained” by traditional standards. And that’s what Bryce Harper was talking about when he said that the game needs players to show more emotion. He wasn’t saying we need more bat-flips, no. It was more along the lines of, the gentlemen’s game of baseball where you hit a home run and act like you just took a four-pitch walk is boring. Showing emotion makes the game exciting. All due respect, Mr. Schmidt, but you showed emotion on the field during your playing days. Bautista’s bat-flip was an extreme case, but in no way was it disrespectful to the game or to his opponent. It was a genuine, organic, unscripted, passionate reaction, and that’s what baseball needs more of.