On Tuesday, Jesus Guzman took a break from tying maidens to railroad tracks and twirling his handlebar mustache, and he applied his villainy to a live baseball game. Watch his heinous, unforgivable crime:
There were women and children in the stands watching, you monster. And a day after Guzman absconded with the innocence of thousands, this happened:
If I were to make a power rankings of the teams most likely to get their noses bent out of shape by that sort of thing, it would go like this:
1. Whatever team Dusty Baker is managing
3. (28-team tie)
That's just a guess, though. Maybe Robin Ventura or Kirk Gibson gets his team riled up about the unwritten rules, too. But as soon as Guzman screamed at his dugout, you knew he was going to get thrown at before the series was over. That's just how the Giants do things. They hit Andrew McCutchen a week ago because the Pirates accidentally hit two Giants with inside pitches. Who hits Andrew McCutchen? That's like hating sea otters.
So the Giants taking offense doesn't necessarily give us a true barometer of how offensive the offense really was. Guzman overreacted, sure. But how many late-inning, come-from-behind home runs is he going to hit in his career? He hit one of them last year, but he didn't get to react like that because he couldn't really believe it went out.
Several innings after getting thrown at, Guzman hit a tie-breaking homer off Bumgarner. He emphatically, but respectfully, ran around the bases. I would have taken off my pants and pretended one of the legs was a saxophone by the time I got to first. One of the main reasons I'm not a professional baseball player, I guess. But that brings me to the revelation that I had all over again for the first time: I like it when players celebrate home runs a little too much.
I don't like it when it happens to my team. And I yelled some things at the screen when Guzman did the WWE-entrance thing on his way to first. But the WWE analogy isn't an idle one; the art of overreacting is part of the theater of baseball. Here's one of my favorite GIFs ever:
It's perfect how he just walks out of the frame. Your imagination tells you he walked around the bases. Let it. (That's Alfredo Despaigne, by the way. He's worth reading up on.) That's how they play in Cuba. The unwritten rules there say that admiring a home run is absolutely encouraged.
And this tribute to the Japanese art of the bat-flip made the rounds a little bit ago:
It's fantastic. Bob Gibson just got on a plane, went to Japan, knocked on the front door of the guy from :09, and drilled him in the back with his rental-car keys.
But it's not limited to other countries. Skip to 1:10 of this video:
That's much more egregious than what Guzman did. But David Ortiz has been grandfathered into this. No one's going to hit Big Papi for being demonstrative after a game-winning home run. That's part of the unspoken contract MLB has with the ticket-buying masses: If Ortiz hits a big home run, you'll get to see something like that. I grew up with Jeffrey Leonard running around the bases with an arm stapled to his thigh, and I came of age with this guy dropping his shoulders after every home run like he was disappointed that the opposing pitcher had the audacity to be born.
Bat flips are beautiful. Watching the home run is a right, not a privilege. So let's unrewrite the unwritten rules:
- You get to do an Ortiz only when you're in your home ballpark.
- You can't stare the pitcher down or use him as a prop in any way.
- Context is important, as Larry Granillo described last month; you don't do it down by eight runs.
That's about it. Other than that, I'd like to ask formally for an end to the automatic plunkings that result from a hitter watching a ball for 1.2 seconds instead of 0.9, or for gesturing toward the dugout like a maniac instead of gesturing toward the dugout like a mostly crazy person. If there's a risk/reward dichotomy here, the reward would be fewer hurt feelings, and the risk would be either a) losing potential Ortiz moments, and/or b) getting someone hurt on a plunking. The risk isn't worth the reward. Not even close.
So watch on, watchers. Flip on, flippers. As long as baseball isn't going to fine you like the NFL, it's a great way to show the world how much fun you're having. And we'll be right there, having fun with you.
Unless it happens to our team.
In conclusion, here's a GIF of Guzman making a stupid error.
(But long live bat-flips and general exuberance.)