On the subject of kissing baseballs

Gregory Shamus - Getty Images

That headline could have been really inappropriate, and it would have been Al Alburquerque's fault.

After watching a full 24 hours of baseball since Friday morning, it turns out the first thing I'm inspired to write about is a dude licking a baseball on the field. Alright, alright.

At least it came in the best game of the weekend, which was Game 2 of the ALCS between the Tigers and A's. That was the only game over the weekend that was close and had multiple lead changes -- there wasn't anything like a dominant Justin Verlander, an entire Giants team soiling themselves, Joe Saunders demoralizing the Rangers, or a field full of projectiles. It was a classic game, with heroes and goats.

And in the middle of it, a dude licked a baseball. Just look at it:


And in GIF form:


That'd be Al Alburquerque doing the licking. It was Yoenis Cespedes hitting it. And it was Cespedes who wasn't pleased:

"We're not finished yet,'' Athletics left fielder Yoenis Cespedes said. "When I get back to Oakland, I am going to hit the ball hard against him.

"And I am going to kiss my bat.''

Josh Reddick called the move "immature", which is like Pete Rose calling something "kind of creepy." Jonny Gomes appealed to the baseball gods, saying they'd take care of it. Even Miguel Cabrera got into it, saying he was going to talk to Alburquerque, and that "you cannot do that, that's just not right."

It's one of the unwritten rules in baseball that no one had even conceived yet. You can scream at the ball. You can howl at the moon after you toss it. You can pull an invisible arrow out of an invisible quiver and shoot it at your visible teammates. You can tear through the fabric of space-time with a 500-decibel war cry as you jog off the mound. You can act like Jose Valverde.

But you can't kiss a baseball.

/scribbles down note for future reference

What's especially amusing was that it was the A's on the other end of it. Remember, two weeks ago, this happened:

It was bad enough the A’s were delivering what (Eric) Chavez, at that moment, assumed was a devastating Yankees loss. But after each of three 13th-inning homers that turned 5-5 to an 9-5 Oakland advantage, Chavez said, most of those on the A’s bench participated in what he described as "an orchestrated clapping, chanting" celebration that he had a great view of from first — a view that made him angrier and angrier with each long ball.

Chavez told The Post he considered the acts "high school-ish" and "pretty unprofessional."

The Athletics' response was basically, "C'mon, Gramps. You used to be cool."

I get the argument appealing to the sanctity of the game. It's a beautiful game, and it's worthy of the utmost respect. I didn't play more than a few years past the age when I'd titter just at the mention of the word "licking," so I'm unqualified to judge Alburquerque or how the A's reacted. This is some between-the-lines junk that would take a few dozen bus trips or so to understand. But I do know what my first reaction was when I saw the play:

"Ha. That was kind of funny."

And if I could push a button and eliminate all of the celebration antics, from invisible arrows to bat flips to pointing at the sky, I wouldn't do it. Nope. The game is better, more entertaining, with antics. I can see how kissing a baseball would rankle a team on the wrong side of a close game. But the overall genre is a keeper.

So kiss on, Al Alburquerque. Or, more specifically, find something else annoying and do that. And then find something else annoying after that. Get a rotation going. It would get old if every baseball player, or even 10 percent more of them, did something similar with every pitch or play.

But that's the "slippery-slope argument," and once you start making those, you're likely to start making awful arguments. Until it becomes an epidemic, I'm thrilled that players like Al Alburquerque are willing to be that guy. Baseball is so much better with those guys doing unexpected things.

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