I'll get to this weeks Yankee news and notes once the Toronto series actually begins, but first I want to address an issue that seemed to garner a lot of attention this weekend. In fact if my memory serves me correct, I have talked about the whole Joba fist pump controversy once before, however I'm going to expand on that a bit more now. Seriously when did baseball players and the media that covers it become so damn sensitive? Apparently there is an unwritten rule in baseball that states if a player shows any type of emotion he must be punished via a 90+ mph fastball to his unprotected back or a pitcher must be mocked and ridiculed until he apologizes. Yet in all other sports, acts of emotion are celebrated or considered the norm.
Case in point….basketball gave us the chest bump and the obnoxious frozen pose after hitting a long range jump shot, football has given us just about every “look at me” celebration in the book (fans have even mocked the league and its commissioner for trying to outlaw endzone celebrations), golf has given us the Tiger Woods fist pump, hockey has given us Ovechkin throwing himself into the boards after a goal, hell even a sport like NASCAR where we are lucky to see a driver out of his car for more than 2 minutes has given us the milk bath and the back flip off the hood of the car. So why in baseball is it considered taboo or selfish for a player to flaunt any raw emotion? Allow me to look at 3 examples from this weekend: 1) Aubrey Huff mimics the Joba fist pump, twice 2) Casey Blake mimics Brian Wilson's arm cross celebration, insults the dead 3) Adam Rosales rounds bases following a homerun….too quickly! Personally the Joba fist pump doesn't bother me like it does a lot of other people. Perhaps it's because I'm a Yankee fan, but I just don't see it as him showing up the hitter. Maybe if he were to point to the hitter while he was doing it, ala Dennis Eckersley, then I could see how its upstaging the hitter, but all I see is a young pitcher releasing some adrenaline. Same goes for Jonathan Papelbon's triple jerk pump after he closes out a game, or Krod's platoon like celebration after each save. As a fan of the opposing team it annoys me because it means my team just lost, but being an objective fan of the game I just don't see anything wrong with showing you have a pulse. Joba is always in a lose-lose position. Whether it be the suffocating starter-closer discussion, or the celebrate or not to celebrate debate. If Joba shows some emotion, he's an arrogant rookie who doesn't respect the game or his teammates. If Joba stays composed, he's just another member of the corporate NY Yankees who lack any youthful presence. If Joba fist pumping against Boston last week while the team was trailing wasn't enough ammo for the local media (God forbid the kid celebrates striking out 12 batters in under 6 innings, which is actually helping the team win), Orioles 1B/DH Aubrey Huff brought the topic into the forefront once again by mimicing Joba not once, but twice after hitting a homerun off of him in the 1st inning during Sunday's game. Honestly I really could care less. As Huff mentioned in the post game, if pitchers can celebrate, then hitters should be allowed to do the same. And even though I think Huff's full of crap by saying he's just having some fun, when its pretty clear he's trying to mock Joba, it really shouldn't have been a big deal, especially since Joba claims he could care less. I did find it amusing that Huff pointed out how Joba was even doing it during the Boston game I mentioned earlier. I'm sure Oriole management was happy to hear their players were more concerned with Joba's celebrations on Tuesday then in the results of their own game. Then there was Casey Blake mimicking Giant's closer Brian Wilson. After Blake hit one out against Wilson, he apparently mimicked Wilson's pose of crossing his arms in celebration once he reached the dugout. Problem was however….Wilson's pose is a salute to his religion and his deceased father. Of course Casey Blake probably didn't know that beforehand, but God forbid Wilson celebrates after a save without another player taking it as a personal insult. The Giants players were not at all pleased upon seeing the Blake footage following the game; so expect this situation to escalate at some point this season. Finally that brings me to Adam Rosales of the Cincinnati Reds. Now I didn't see the game on Sunday, but ESPN's PTI discussed whether or not Rosales, who had just hit his first major league HR, was showing up the St. Louis Cardinals by quickly sprinting around the bases instead of using the slow customary homerun trot. Seriously, this really had to be debated? We've gone from one side of the spectrum, which is debating whether Manny Ramirez rounds the bases too slowly, to debating whether Rosales deserves some payback for rounding the bases in 15 seconds! I think we are almost to the point where someone would claim a player is showing up a pitcher if he happens to yawn in the on deck circle. Are people looking for reasons now to instigate on field brawls? Basically what I am getting at here is this, what has happened to the game of baseball? In the 60s, if a pitcher felt offended by a hitters actions, he'd bean them. Ok fine, that may be a stupid way to exact revenge (throw a dangerous object at a stationary target) but I get it, that's how things were done then. Now with umpires throwing out warnings for unsavory glances and whatnot, players let bad feelings build up, and they look for dumb ways, like mimicing celebrations, to release those feelings. Obviously we can't change how a player feels, and whether or not they take a celebration or pose personally. But what I can ask is for fans to stop taking baseball so damn seriously. Does baseball really need to be held to a higher standard then every other sport? From the outrage on steroids, which has ostracized some of the games greats from the game as if they were murder suspects, to the ban of celebrations, where will baseball head next? Questions or comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Written by Joseph Gallo