If you know me, you know I’m a pretty reserved guy. I come from a long line of reserved men. I was taught from a early age that you don’t show your emotions in public, and especially not while playing a sport. The driving motto was “Act like you’ve been there before.” I teach my own son to “respect the game” and most especially “respect your opponents” by not showing them up. One would assume that I would be a big opponent of bat flips.
Yet I’m not; in general, I like them. I think they show genuine excitement and emotion that doesn’t show anyone up. Only Brian McCann would not approve.
We saw the “bat flip heard ’round the world” the other night when Jose Bautista hit a dinger to put the Toronto Blue Jays ahead in deciding Game 5 of the ALDS:
Now I’ll admit that I wasn’t a fan of Joey Bats first staring down the poor pitcher who gave up the homer – that to me is unnecessarily showing up the opponent. I think even Bautista realized this and looked away pretty quickly. But the bat flip was clearly an expression of his excitement at his accomplishment – and who wouldn’t be excited in that situation? And even the line “Act like you’ve been there before” doesn’t really apply, because everyone knows that almost no one as been there before.
On a scale of 1-10, here is how I rank bat flips:
1: Hitting a long drive that gets caught on the warning track.
2: Driving a long double to the gap that you think is a homer.
3: Hitting home run in meaningless game that doesn’t alter the lead.
4: Hitting home run in meaningless game that does alter the lead.
5: Hitting home run in meaningful regular-season game that doesn’t alter the lead.
6: Hitting home run in meaningful regular-season game that does alter the lead.
7: Hitting home run in playoff game that doesn’t alter the lead.
8: Hitting home run in playoff game that does alter the lead.
9: Hitting walk-off homer in playoff game.
10: Hitting walk-off homer in World Series.
So Bautista was a clear 8 on a 10-point scale. I would take off a point for the stare at the pitcher, but add a point back for the epicness of the flip itself. In the end, a clearly acceptable bat flip, even to a ol’ fuddy-duddy like me.