There are a lot of unwritten rules and codes of conduct in baseball, many of them pertaining to how a hitter is supposed to react after hitting a home run.
According to the code, hitters should more or less put their heads down, look at no one and run around the bases as quickly as possible. Tempers flare, however, when hitters admire the ball they’ve just crushed, stare at members of the opposing team or trot around the bases at a snail’s pace, soaking in the applause and look-at-me adulation of the long ball.
But why? What’s wrong with a little showmanship?
“The greatest competition in all of the four big sports, I think, is the pitcher against the hitter,” Bobby Valentine said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It’s a wonderful confrontation, and it’s very difficult to be successful at when you have the bat in your hands – and everyone has said that over the years. ‘Oh, God, it’s so hard to hit a baseball.’ Yes, when a guy stands up there and hits a 100 mile-per-hour fast ball and he hits it 450 feet, he’s supposed to make like it’s an every day occurrence. He’s supposed to just (act like nothing happened) and run around the bases like Joe DiMaggio.”
Valentine, the fiery manager who led the Mets to a World Series appearance in 2000, wants more joy and less jurisdiction.
“I think they should run around the bases looking like Babe Ruth,” he said. “I think they should have their arms up in the air. I think they should yell at the other team if they want to and they should be showing some emotion so we get the younger generation that likes emotion, likes this instant gratification (of) ‘Oh, look what I did’ to get a few more of them watching our game.”
Jose Bautista authored one of the greatest bat flips in MLB history last postseason, belting a go-ahead three-run homer against the Rangers in Game 5 of the ALDS.
Some people criticized Bautista for his theatrics. Valentine loved it.
“(I had) no problem (with it),” he said. “That’s the home run that is YouTubed the most. That’s the one that’s emulated the most in youth baseball. On the flip side of that, just for whatever it’s worth, even if you don’t like it, I don’t believe that there’s any way in hell that there’s justification of taking a hard object and propelling it 100 miles-an-hour at the person who just flipped the bat or smiled or jumped or did a cartwheel. I don’t think it’s tit-for-tat. I don’t think it’s equal punishment. I think that someday, someone’s going to get hit in the head, they’re going to die and the pitcher is going to be arrested for manslaughter. He’s going to be arrested for intent to murder with a deadly weapon – and then things might change.”