There’s a fine line between showboating and celebrating and there needs to be clarification on one act in particular – a batter that watches his ball after he hits it. The fact that this is even a topic for discussion just goes to show how sensitive as a society we are because for some reason it’s been instilled in the minds of many that it’s not polite to enjoy a moment you earned. Instead, lets focus more on making sure we don’t hurt the feelings of others around us during competition – the pitcher in particular.
Why is it alright for a kicker to jump into the air with joy after making a long field goal or a hockey player to slide on one knee and graze the ice with a swift arm motion after a goal but it’s not alright for a batter to enjoy watching a ball that he’s worked hard to hit go over the fence to help his team? Because of baseball's 'unwritten rules?'
After all, they say hitting a baseball is an art right? I’m sure even Picasso stood back and admired his work from time-to-time.
The fact of the matter is, some pitcher’s are sensitive, whenever a batter does this and instead of getting ready for the next batter they feel like a victim. As if it’s the batter’s fault. Because of this, some opposing fans will try to overlook the fact that their pitcher just gave up a long ball and instead use the theory that the batter is showing up the pitcher as a scapegoat that was created by the pitcher.
Pitcher gives up home run, batter watches it, pitcher gets upset then fans get upset. Got it? Good.
So lets focus on this then. To the pitchers that get irritated by batters who take their time getting down to first after hitting a dinger or don’t enjoy a player taking his time trotting around the bases here’s a piece of advice; don’t give up a home run!
I get it, home runs occur, it’s part of the game, but lets remember that if it wasn’t for the pitch, the batter wouldn’t be staring into the sky like a kid watching a plethora of balloons dancing into the clouds. If a pitcher strikeouts a batter and yells or does a fist pump is there usually any outrage? Nope. But as soon as the script is flipped and the batter is enjoying the moment, all hell breaks loose.
For example, last night, in the top of the sixth inning, Red Sox slugger, David Ortiz, connected on a 93-mph slider by Indians pitcher, Corey Kluber. As a result, Ortiz launched the 0-2 pitch deep into right center field, leaving Ortiz to admire his work in the batter’s box until the ball cleared the fence.
With this coming days after Ortiz said he felt Rays pitcher, David Price, hit him last week because of his two home runs in Game 2 of the ALDS last October, it made me curious to see what 'twitterland' thought about Ortiz's way of enjoying the moment from non-Red Sox fans. This is what I found:
So what did we learn? Okay so people don’t like Ortiz and many would like to see Ortiz hit by a pitch.
Like him or not, put that to the side. The point is, as soon as a batter sits back and watches his ball travel over the fence, regardless of how the pitcher feels, some minds have been programmed to instantly see it as disrespect instead of, ‘hey he earned it.’
Of course Ortiz has the biggest target on his back right now since his drama with Price is still fresh, but he’s just like any other batter – he has to earn that hit.
According to Baseball-Refernce.com, Ortiz averages 581 at-bats in a 162-game season. From his 581 at-bats, Ortiz averages 35 home runs per season. He also accumulates 90 walks, which means he appears at the plate 671 times, on average. That means Ortiz averages a home run every 0.05 percent of the time he appears at the plate.
Take into consideration that the 162-game schedule spans over six months and it’s nearly impossible to assume a player who is known for his power isn’t going to appreciate his work when he can.
These men may be paid millions and some may even act childish, but regardless just like another human being, they shed emotion. Regardless if they watch their ball once or every time they hit it, when they step into that batter’s box nothing is a given.
Lets face it, not every batter is going to act like they’ve been there before, and wouldn’t assume that they should. It’s easy to watch the games and say ‘I wouldn’t do that,’ but until you’re actually there, loosen up a little. I’d rather have a player sit and watch a home run then showboat rounding the base path or jumping or even sliding into home plate.
The reason why people have a myopic attitude towards batters watching their ball is because that’s what fans have told themselves. With social media being more powerful than ever before, it’s easy for people to go with the crowd instead of going against the grain.
This isn’t Little League where everyone gets a trophy and there’s a focus on making sure one team isn't running up the score. This is professional baseball and it’s time for pitchers and fans to understand that.
Follow @mike_uva for exclusive interviews and the latest on mike-uva.com
Have a question or a comment for Mike? Email him at email@example.com