South Korean Bat Flippers
A big part of the South Korean KBO game has become hitters elaborately flipping their bats, particularly after launching likely home runs. KBO pitchers tolerate these displays, along with batters long admiring their shots after the bat flip. It’s become such a phenomenon that mykbo.net routinely features a bat-flip montage from the previous day’s KBO action.
My gut reaction, as primarily an MLB fan, is that bat-flipping is kind of bush, but my left brain says it isn’t hurting anyone and perhaps adds a little spice to the game, at least so long as everyone in KBO seems to feel that bat-flipping is unobjectionable conduct.
Needless to say, bat-flipping won’t be coming to MLB on a KBO scale anytime soon. Major league players, and particularly pitchers, don’t like being “shown up” by opposing players and don’t like “hot dogs.” It comes from a collective mindset that has been in MLB for decades that players should act like “professionals” and “remain humble” no matter what their talents. Baseball is a game with more than its fair share of failures by every player, and the belief is that if players were excessively celebrating after every home run, strike out or other big play, it would create more hard feelings, and lead to more fighting, than is already created by the stress of elite and hard-fought competition.
You can say that this “unwritten rule” of MLB is silly, but the players have almost all been raised with this mindset, and there is definitely something to be said for the argument that increasing hard feelings by showing off should be avoided.
The biggest perpetrator of this kind of behavior in MLB today is Yasiel Puig. He’s got $200 million talent but a nickel’s worth of maturity. I don’t think that Puig is a bad guy, and I think most baseball observers feel the same way. However, he’s a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve, and he’s been slow to learn that his antics put people throughout baseball off.
In the sixth inning of last Friday’s Giants/Dodgers game, Puig took a strike against Giants starter Madison Bumgarner after stepping out of the batter’s box with something in his eye without first calling time. He’d also struck out looking against Bumgarner in his previous at-bat stranding a man on third. Puig concluded the sixth inning AB with a home run to dead center, which he spent a long time admiring before running the bases. Bumgarner came over and met Puig as Puig came home and barked at him nearly setting off a fight.
The Giants are an old-school National League team, and Puig’s grand-standing won’t be forgotten. Even Puig’s own teammates don’t like this kind of stuff, because if the Giants retaliate later against Puig, his teammates will be forced to defend him, even if the original incident was entirely avoidable.
Puig’s maturity issues come up on a regular basis. If he can get with the program, he’ll become a superstar for the Dodgers. If he doesn’t, he’ll continue to create petty distractions which interfere with the team’s focus on winning ballgames.