Baseball probably has the most extensive “unwritten” rules list in all of the major professional sports. There are so many, in fact, some people don’t understand how they ever became part of the game in the first place.
More often than not, in today’s day and age it’s a struggle between the older and more traditional way of playing the game versus the emerging youth wanting to inject some flare and excitement. Believe me, a gel of both can happen and baseball is taking baby steps in that directly. But ultimately, the unwritten rules are meant to be agreed upon from all players, with baseball being a game of respect.
During Wednesday’s nightcap of a doubleheader between the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Indians, the former took exception to an act committed by a player of the latter, an act deemed disrespectful in the baseball world. The culprit: Indians second baseman Jose Ramirez.
With the Indians holding a 7-1 lead late, Ramirez broke the code on a multiple accounts. The Twins had intentionally walked Jason Kipnis to put two on with one out in the 8th. Ramirez, probably looking to make the Twins pay for the perceived slight of walking Kipnis to get to him, promptly drove one over the left field wall for a three-run blast to put the Indians up 10-1.
The problem? Ramirez’s slow walk to acknowledge his latest achievement, followed by an over-elaborate bat flip right in front of the Twins dugout.
It’s clear that Ramirez enjoyed going yard, probably feeling disrespected after the Twins made a baseball-minded move to pitch around a much better and more established big league hitter in Kipnis. Fine, it’s okay to teach them a lesson. But here’s multiple reasons why Ramirez’s response was a no-no:
- Ramirez is a 23-year old who has only played a little more than a season’s worth of games over the last three years. As they say, he’s had a cup of coffee or two in the big leagues.
- He’s a career .241 hitter in 176 games played since 2013; and he’s hitting a tick over .220 on the season for Cleveland. His recent showboating home run was his eighth of his career.
- The Indians were already up 7-1 prior to Ramirez’s blast into the seats; the game was already virtually decided. If his home run was one that tied the game, one that propelled them into the lead from a deficit, or of the walk-off variety, then I can understand adding some emphasis to your celebration.
- The Indians were already eliminated from postseason contention prior to that game even being played. I know, it’s painful for both players and fans not being able to anticipate the playoffs right around the corner. But it is important to finish out the season and carry yourself as a professional.
- If you watch it carefully, the ball Ramirez hit might have reached the second row at best. You can see a fan failing to corral the souvenir and the ball dribbles back into the field of play.
A message to Mr. Ramirez for future references: beware. Teams in sports, particularly baseball, never forget being disrespected in that fashion.
If you have had a steady career as a regular everyday player for a big league squad… if you’re hitting at least .270 lifetime and earned a reputation for hitting the long ball… if you’ve had numerous big time clutch moments in your career… if you’re making an impact on a team that is in the hunt for October baseball… or if you can hit no-doubters where the outfielder doesn’t bother turning around to track it and it ends up being an upper tank shot… then MAYBE you can toss your bat as high as you did, sir.
Otherwise, don’t. Just don’t. The fact of the matter is, baseball is a game of respect. Whether you’re a young 20-something rookie getting a taste of the show, or a wily veteran in his mid- or late-30’s who’s been there and done that, act like you’ve done it before, and that goes for all players and coaches. Antics like that are not forgotten in between the lines.
Even Indians manager Terry Francona was not a big fan of what Ramirez displayed. Francona simply said, “Good swing, poor judgment.”
Look at David Ortiz. He’s famous for hitting the ball deep and having a rather noticeable bat flip. He very rarely gets cheated too, he hits ’em high and hits ’em far. Approaching 40 years of age, Big Papi has launched over 500 bombs and has a reputation for coming up clutch for his team.
Basically what I’m saying is this: When you get anywhere near Ortiz status, you can toss the bat 30 feet high for all I care. Until then: respect the game.