In keeping with ancient baseball tradition, we're passing final and lasting judgment on a recent baseball controversy. That's why we call this Kangaroo Court -- it's a nod to the old days when a veteran player would preside over clubhouse "legal proceedings" and mete out fines based on baseball-related offenses. For instance, if you fail to advance a runner, take too long rounding the bases, wear the wrong jersey to batting practice, or in the case of former Red Sox manager John McNamara use aerosol deodorant as hairspray, you get fined by the judge. These days, the Kangaroo Court is a clubhouse relic of the past, but we're here to revive it and to bring the mechanisms of baseball justice to bear on present-day dust-ups, hostilities, and close calls.
In this particular installment of the CBS Sports Kangaroo Court, we'll discuss whether players should be flipping a bat in celebratory fashion after hitting a meaningless home run while their teams are being blown out late in the game.
The Blue Jays would lose 8-4, dropping them to 17-24 on the season. Yes, there was already a beef between the two teams and, yes, the Blue Jays are likely incredibly frustrated right now with the three straight losses and the season in general. But that was ultimately a meaningless solo shot.
The case against flips
This is a team game and your team is losing, Celebration Guy. That makes you look selfish and at least slightly like a bad teammate.
I picture the guy in the NFL whose team is down by three touchdowns in the fourth quarter doing a sack dance. Or the NBA player whose team is down by 15 points with a minute left giving the Mutumbo Finger Wag after blocking the shot of a dude seven inches his inferior.
How stupid do those things look? Just as stupid as what Bautista did, frankly.
Speaking generally, this can be a bad look any time, but in this particular case, it gets even worse. We noted the Blue Jays' record above and that the Braves were finishing their third straight win over the Jays this week, but Bautista is hitting .208/.330/.376 and he posed like he was freaking Barry Bonds.
Again, doesn't that just look silly? A little self-awareness combined with situational awareness might have been in order there.
Let us make 100 percent clear that there's no reason for anyone to get angry over this. It's 100 percent a "I'm not mad, I'm actually laughing" scenario. The guy is making a fool of himself. Step aside and let him. Then laugh.
In the parlance of Herm Edwards: You play to win the game.
Yep. So why be angry about someone on the losing team showboating?
The case for flips
Baseball is a game. It's entertainment for the fans. It's supposed to be fun and bat flips are an entertaining facet of the game for many fans. Some don't like them and some do. Everything isn't for everyone, but this isn't anything illegal or even harmful.
Further, baseball has long been looking to tap into the younger generation of fan. The majestic home run with a pose and a big-time bat flip, to reiterate, is pretty damn fun.
As for whether the other team should be offended in cases where a player on the losing end of a relatively lopsided affair decides to celebrate a meaningless home run:
- Your team is winning. Settle down.
- You get paid at least six figures and in many cases millions of dollars a year to play a game. Settle down.
- This isn't Little League or even high school. If the pitcher doesn't like being shown up, he needs to make better pitches.
Four CBS Sports justices weigh in
Dayn Perry: While I'm perfectly fine with bat-flips in a vacuum (and pitcher exultation on the mound, which is subject to much less hand-wringing than bat-flips for reasons that still elude me), I think they're pretty dumb when your team is getting wrecked. I don't see why you should enthuse in your own performance when the scoreboard is not even close to being in your favor. I suppose I can see the argument that a bat-flip following a blast that draws your team within striking distance might rally the troops. However, Bautista's came in the eighth inning and his team was still being doubled up after he touched the plate. I thought his playoff bat-flip against the Rangers was pretty cool, but this one was ill-timed. That said, the proper response from the Braves would be to laugh at a dude who's flipping his bat with his team down 8-4 in the late innings. I vote against Joey Bats, but the Braves should've opted for quiet mockery over offense-taking.
Jonah Keri: Dayn's take is 100 percent spot on.
Mike Axisa: I am pro-bat flip and therefore I deem Bautista's bat flip acceptable. However, if you're going to bat flip down four runs in the eighth inning, you're going to have to deal with the backlash and acknowledge you look silly. Still, there is never a bad time to bat flip as far as I am concerned.
Matt Snyder: Flip away with real, pure emotion on huge home runs, but show some situational awareness when your team is headed to a relatively one-sided loss. And, yes, Winning Team, please quit getting angry about the foolishness of your opponent. Just point and laugh.
By all means, you do you and flip the bat whenever you see fit. In cases of your team being blown out late in the game, however, our court herein decrees that you shall be mocked mercilessly for looking like such a selfish fool. Consider the legal precedent henceforth set in case law.