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For the love of the bat flip

By Sierra Trujillo

I recently read an article titled “The Most Ridiculous Unwritten Rules of Baseball.” It wasn’t published by a very well-known website, but lists such as this tend to get my attention no matter who the publisher. Now, there are some these supposed rules that I agree with, like leaving a pitcher’s mound alone (we don’t need another Dallas Braden scene) and never make the first or third out at third (or home, according to my father, who taught me this rule when I was eight). There are others that really just seem like superstitions, but I still have no problem with, like don’t talk about a no-hitter while it’s in progress.
However, there are other “rules” that seem to be taking the fun out of the game, what fun there is left anyway. These include celebrating after a strikeout, admiring a home run with a long look and a bat flip, and even stealing bases when your team already has a generous lead. This seems just ludicrous to me, and it happens to follow along with a point that I’ve been wanting to make about baseball for awhile. And so here it is…
Buster Posey and Bryce Harper are two very different baseball players. One is cool, calm and collected. The other is over the top, cocky and not afraid to make a scene. Both are equally fun to watch, despite their differences. However, there are many baseball fans who don’t really think that last statement is true.
Baseball has always been my sport of choice. I understand the game and it just, plain and simple, fascinates me. However, that is not the case for most sports fans out there. What was once our national pastime has now become a lagging, boring and drawn-out affair to most who tune in. (Did you see the story about the lady who was caught looking up how long a baseball game lasts in the second inning?) So why are we not doing everything we can to make baseball fun again?
The reason is simple. The old fans who like baseball do not have the same taste as the young fans who watch baseball, in most cases. Yes, every true fan can appreciate an outfielder gunning a runner out at home plate, and a catcher picking off a base runner. But, what about the home runs that are absolutely crushed, out of the field and out of the stadium? What about stealing home and then celebrating when called safe? Why are these now seen as poor sportsmanship and not just absolutely great plays?
I think for a long time professional athletes were not expected or even allowed to have personalities. If there was someone who was outspoken, it was a controversy, no matter what that person was saying. And we still see that even today.
You have your Peyton Mannings, Stephen Currys and Buster Poseys. These guys are arguably the best in their professions and there are very few negative things you could say about each of them, professionally or personally. They fit a mold that has been in place since long before I was born, and which fans and organizations alike are still trying to force players into.
If a player is calm and collected, then that is his or her own prerogative. But then you have players like Bryce Harper, Jose Bautista and, in football, (I can’t believe I’m even saying this right now) Richard Sherman. These guys don’t just not fit the mold, they absolutely shatter it.
I’m going to focus on Bryce Harper, because his name seems to be in the sports-news a lot recently, what with the one-game suspension after the blatantly obvious caught-on-national-television profanity yelling and all. Harper is not a Buster Posey-like baseball player. He doesn’t say what you expect him to say in a post game press conference and he definitely doesn’t keep his feelings of people or plays to himself. He flips his bat after a no-doubt home run knock and he shows up to press interviews wearing a hat that reads “Make Baseball Fun Again.” So what’s the problem?
In my opinion, nothing. If he’s good, and helps his team win and is not hurting anyone with the occasional bat flip, let him keep on keeping on. So it’s disrespectful to a pitcher? What about when a pitcher celebrates after getting a clutch strikeout?
My favorite play in baseball will always and forever be an outfielder throwing out a runner at home. And my favorite player (and future husband) is Buster Posey. However, I don’t mind seeing a bat flip, and some personality, now and then too.

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