Bat Flips — A New Age of Baseball

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 26: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox tosses his bat after hitting a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th inning against the Detroit Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field on April 26, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Tigers 12-11. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Baseball, the sport with the “unwritten rules” — as some like to call it. Everyone knows these rules exist, but not everyone understands them. Nor does everybody have the same interpretation of these rules.

One of the unwritten rules that have come up in recent discussion is the bat flip. With home runs on the rise, this also means an inflation in the amount of bat flips around Major League Baseball. This unsurprisingly has caused a heated debate around the game. With many wondering if these unwritten rules should be done away with, while the other side continues to argue that flipping your bat is disrespectful and is a way of showing up the pitcher, it is hard to pick a side or just what is “right.”

So, should bat flips be embraced, or is it disrespecting the game? Let’s find out.

A New Age of Baseball

Let the Kids Play

With many of the younger generation losing interest in a game they consider “boring”, Major League Baseball has been promoting player personality and energy from their young stars in the “Let the Kids Play” campaign. This new movement attempts to get rid of the old-school, limited-emotion baseball and encourage a new age of exciting baseball to attract younger fans to this magnificent game. It’s definitely hard to argue that bat flips aren’t fun and entertaining.

Controversy

This new marketing scheme from Major League Baseball has sparked a controversy with many former and some current players, as well as an older generation of fans. Causing them to speak up against this act they deem as rude and disrespectful to the game of baseball.

The latest controversial debate came after Tim Anderson spiked his bat after a home run in the 4th inning against the Kansas City Royals. Later in the game, the Royals intentionally hit Anderson in retaliation.

Was this is a bit much? Maybe, considering it was only the 4th inning. But was it enough to warrant a retaliation from the Royals pitcher that could have caused a serious injury to Anderson? Certainly not.

Maybe one of the most memorable bat flips in history occurred in 2015 when José Bautista launched his bat after a go-ahead home run against the Texas Rangers in the ALDS. However, the argument can be made that this was acceptable since this is definitely a bigger moment than Anderson’s homer in the 4th.

This sparks another controversial debate: should players only pimp home runs in big situations, such as walk-offs or game-tying homers?

What the LWOS Community Thinks

We recently posted a poll on the @LastWordOnMLB twitter account to get feedback on this debate from the Last Word On Sports community. With 53% of fans agreeing that bat flips are always acceptable and 47% voting that bat flips are fine if in big moments. The most surprising result in the poll was the number of votes, or lack thereof, for bat flips never being acceptable — with a total of zero votes.

Some very good points were made on this topic from the community, including a good one from my colleague Mister Blue. Where he said, “The difference between “playing loose” and gloating is a case-by-case basis and not something I can attest to an “always yes” or “always no” answer. “Ok, if in big moments” most closely resembles my feelings on the issue.”

Another good comment came in from Jordan Kendall, stating that he believes it’s like a touchdown celebration. It’s totally acceptable unless you are intentionally targeting an opponent. — This is a very solid point, considering baseball is one of the few sports that doesn’t consist of many celebratory actions, unlike other sports such as football, hockey, and soccer.

Bat Flips Aren’t New

It’s not like bat flips were just recently created overnight. Players have been flipping their bats and pimping home-runs for longer than you might think, with many bat flips occurring as far back as the 1960’s.

Bret Boone

Former All-Star and third-generation baseball player Bret Boone owns one of the biggest reputations for having a prominent bat flip. It was so excellent, that the Mariners ran a hilarious 2003 commercial involving Boone flipping random items.

Mickey Mantle

If you’re anti-bat flip and haven’t seen this footage, try not to faint. Yes, that’s Mickey Mantle flipping his bat. It appears Mantle may be flipping his bat in disgust after a fly out in this video. However, if players like Yasiel Puig and Tim Anderson are criticized for flipping their bats and showing emotion, shouldn’t Mantle?

Like Chris Cwik from Yahoo! Sports said, “Emotion, and bat flips, have been a part of the game for a long time. Maybe it’s time to start embracing that part of the game’s history instead of inventing ways to complain about players you don’t like.”

Pitchers Celebrate, Too

Another discussion in the bat flip controversy, if pitchers can celebrate and do what they want after a big moment, why can’t hitters? Does a bat flip really hurt a pitcher’s feelings so much that it justifies him hitting another batter with a fastball between the numbers? There is absolutely nothing wrong with a celebration after a big moment for pitchers. Just don’t get hurt over it when a hitter does the same.

So, Is it Disrespectful?

So, is it disrespectful to flip your bat and then run the bases with excitement? The simple answer is no. As long as the player is not verbally taunting or indicating something offensive to the pitcher, then no harm is being done. Baseball is a game, and games are meant to be fun. What’s the point of playing or watching the game if you aren’t enjoying it?

Obviously, an excessive bat flip doesn’t need to happen on every home run, but if a player hits a home run and gets fired up, let him flip his bat and enjoy the moment. If you’re a pitcher and don’t like it, make a better pitch next time. Like it or not, baseball is trending in this direction, and it just makes sense to let the kids play.

Main Photo
Embed from Getty Images

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