The Bat Flip (Flop)

Baseball’s hottest topic yesterday was the 7th inning of the ALDS between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers. The inning literally had everything – controversial calls, a myriad of errors, raucous fans, tape-measure shots, and yes… bat flips. When Jose Bautista launched a bomb to give the Blue Jays the lead, en-route to a thrilling game 5, series clinching victory, he flipped his bat – nay, he threw his bat high in the air.

The Rogers Centre, and arguably most of the city of Toronto loved it.  Rangers’ pitcher Sam Dyson was not a fan. “Jose needs to calm that down” were Dyson’s words to Edwin Encarnacion in the at-bat following Bautista’s blast.  The confrontation cleared the benches for what seemed like the dozenth time in the game – but does Dyson have a point?

Since its inception, baseball has been a game with as many rules that are unwritten as rules that actually appear in the rulebook. One of the golden unwritten rules is not to show up the other team – whether it’s taking an extra base when your team is up big, casually fielding a routine play, or taunting after a home run. In Dyson’s eyes, Bautista broke this rule.  The inherent problem here is that it’s no longer 1903 – it’s 2015 and baseball is hemorrhaging fans to more “exciting” sports like football, basketball, and even soccer. Sure, there needs to be some discretion shown when celebrating – just like in every sport – but this Bautista’s bat flip has everyone talking about it; on twitter, on facebook, on SportsCenter.

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When a receiver burns a corner on his way to scoring a touchdown, he does a dance. It doesn’t clear benches. It doesn’t require any form of player-enforced punishment. It’s just a part of the game, and as a fan of football, it’s a fun part of the game. When a relief pitcher celebrates a big strikeout by thumping his chest and pointing to the sky, it doesn’t clear the benches – so why is it when a hitter gets the best of a pitcher and celebrates accordingly it turns into a national emergency?

The other issue that needs to be addressed in regards to bat flips is consistency.  When Yasiel Puig broke into the league, he was chastised for not playing the game “the right way.” His lackadaisical approach to fly balls, his bat flips on singles and doubles drew the ire of players and commentators alike.  The landscape following Bautista’s bat flip is completely different. But what makes his any different? Was it the gravity of the moment? Was it that he is a veteran? Whatever the reason, all players should be able to bat flip whenever they want to and they can only do that when baseball players shed this concept of unwritten rules in favor of just having fun. After all – it’s only a game.

About Aaron Garcia

Aaron is an avid sports fan who passionately follows the NFL, NBA and MLB, in addition to NCAA Sports. He is an Arizona State University grad who loves the Dodgers and the Patriots.