Let’s talk a little baseball … shall we?
They had a big fight yesterday during a game between the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays.
It featured a nicely thrown straight right thrown by the Rangers’ Rougned Odor against the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista. It landed flush on the side of Bautista’s jaw.
Muhammad Ali would’ve been proud.
I’m not sure we’re seeing more of these fights these days in baseball, where the brawls generally become a sort of comedy of errors. Your average baseball player isn’t the handiest with his dukes … although many of us still marvel at the time 45-year-old Nolan Ryan clamped a headlock on the much-younger Robin Ventura and delivered about a dozen blows to the top of Ventura’s noggin.
The cause of these baseball fights rests often with players’ knack for showing up guys on the other team.
I refer to “bat flips,” which have become the insult du jour on the baseball diamond. Bautista likes to flip his bat when he hits home runs. It’s meant to stick it in the eye of the pitcher who threw the ball that Bautista has just deposited in the outfield seats.
Pitchers don’t like being shown up.
They’ve been known to respond by throwing at or near the head of the next batter — or waiting until the bat-flipping offender comes to bat the next time.
I dislike the idea of showboating on the field. There’s really and truly no need for it. These men get paid a lot of money to play a kids’ game. That doesn’t mean they have to act like kids.
I recall listening on the radio to an interview that talk-show host Jim Rome was having with Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt. They were talking about how batters sometimes stand in the batter’s box and “admire” the home run they’ve just hit before taking off on their home run trot.
Schmidt didn’t like the way hitters would act when they hit one out.
He told Rome of how it was in the old days. If a player were to do something like to a pitcher, they’d be sure to take a high, hard one somewhere on their body the next time they came to bat.
Schmidt mentioned a couple of the meanest pitchers ever to throw a hardball: Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson. You show either of those guys up, Schmidt recalled, and you were going to pay for it … guaranteed!
So, let’s just play the game.
As for showing off after hitting a home run, I’ll borrow a quote from a coach who participated in another sport. It might have been Vince Lombardi who told his players when “you get to the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”