There has been an ongoing progression over the years as to how MLB players celebrate those great triumphant moments. Jose Bautista gave new meaning to the term “Bat Flip” when he crushed a 3 run homer in the 7th inning of game 5 of the emotionally charged ALDS final between the Blue Jays and the Rangers. I have no problem with players celebrating great moments but it is the way in which they are doing it now that needs to be addressed. I think it is time to eliminate these top 10 celebration routines in Major League Baseball.
- The group bunny hop: You know this one. This is where all the players huddle together on the field after winning the game and hop up and down as a group. Can you imagine seeing Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig doing the “bunny hop” together?
- The pie in the face: This move was executed by A.J. Burnett for years with much success. He would wait until the on field live post-game interviews started and he would smash a whip cream pie in the face of the unsuspecting player. If somebody tried to smash a pie in Kirk Gibson’s face when he was a player they could be breathing out of their ears the rest of their life.
- The ripping off of the player’s jersey: This one always amazed me. You hit a walk off single and next thing you know guys are tearing your clothes off! Now it is not even just the jersey it is the undershirt as well in some cases. What’s next in a few more years? Maybe we strip the player naked on the field to celebrate.
- The batting helmet throw: I think this one took on new life with Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees. Arod is obsessed with catching the helmet of the player who hits a walk off homer. He encourages the players to throw him the helmet. It almost looks like catching the bouquet at a wedding.
- The water bottle shower: I guess over time players realized that carrying a large and heavy Gatorade cooler on to a field and then chasing someone around to dump on him was too much work. Now it is much easier if everybody just runs out there with an open water bottle and dumps that on the players. Quick, easy and requires very little effort. Brilliant! Soon the players will be adding food coloring to the water just to add a little more fun.
- The bat flip: This one seems to be irritating pitchers the most these days. It used to be standing at home plate and watching your homerun. However these days it has become the aggressive flip of the bat when a player knows he has hit a homer. It is viewed as the exclamation point on the at bat. It is the equivalent of pounding your chest. I wonder what would have happened in 1978 when Bucky Dent homered vs. the Red Sox if he did the Buatista bat flip. All I have to say is that I suspect there may have been a riot on the field before Dent reached the plate while rounding the bases.
- The pointing to the sky: Talking to the heavens above at those victorious moments. This one seems to be used mostly by pitchers. However you do see the occasional batter step on the plate and point to the sky but only after a HR. You can can’t point to the sky and start talking after a mere single. That would be considered rude.
- The chasing of the player into centerfield: This is a sort of new one. Player hits a walk off single and is rounding first base when he looks over at a mob of players chasing him. I think this started because the players did not want their clothes ripped off or they did not want a water bottle bath. Bartolo Colon is very much against this celebration. He does not want to have to chase a player all over the ball park to congratulate him. He would rather you just came to him.
- The shirt untuck: The first player I ever saw do this was Rafael Soriano. The closer for several teams over the years would violently untuck his jersey on the mound after the final out was recorded. It was his way of saying “game over”. Although I did see Jose Reyes doing this for a little bit it seems to have become passé. Hey what are you going to do? Not every celebration routine is going to stick. Look what happened to the “handshake”.
- The leap at home plate: I would have thought that this one would have died out after Kendrys Morales seriously broke his leg performing the leap after a walk off homer. It is still out there though. Maybe players have figured out how to do it without getting hurt. They could have a player standing at the plate as a spotter. You leap and he is there to catch you to provide a soft landing.
Celebrations are what the game is all about this time of the year. I think it is time that we go back to the future as to how the players celebrate. Nobody wants a choreographed moment but by the same token I think we can all survive without all the extremes listed above. I think the game could use a little more respect between the players. Winning and losing with dignity and class should never go out of style.