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The unwritten rules of flipping your bat into space and watching it transform into a satellite

How much is too much when we’re talking about bat flips? Starlin Rodriguez and the Barrie Baycats have given us a beautiful test case.

AMPAS Presents The Making Of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Oh, you like bat flips? Name their first three albums.

Yeah, I didn’t think so. You’re kind of a poser. You saw Jose Bautista’s bat flip on TRL, so you got a bat-flip shirt at Hot Topic, and now all you talk about with your friends is bat flips, like you’ve been doing it for years.

Well, you haven’t. And I’m here to tell you that bat flips aren’t cool anymore. They’re mainstream. They’re boring. And you’ll never catch me writing about the unwritten rules of a bat flip again. It would have to take an all-time bat flip in order to ...

... alright, getting right to it, then.

Now that is a bat flip. But just calling it a bat flip does it a disservice. It’s one of the bigger bat flips we’ve seen, sure, but it’s almost definitely one of the greatest staredowns, too. Don’t sleep on the trot around the bases, which took about the same amount of time as a nonstop flight from JFK to Brussels. It’s all extremely petty and funny, and our job today is to see how egregiously this violates the unwritten rules.

Part 1 - The Bat Flip

It is impressive in height ...

... and it is impressive in distance.

If this were the only offense, it wouldn’t merit an entire investigation. This might have a little more distance than the Bautista bat flip, but it’s in the same general genre. It would get an 8 on a 1-to-10 scale, where a “1” is running around the bases like your dad, the Great Santini, is in the stands, ready to berate you in public, and a “10” is doing a hammer throw with four rotations that reaches the opposing team’s bullpen. Which someone should definitely do.

It was about as demonstrative as bat flips get, but it’s not something that should make the catcher tackle him before he steps on home plate.

Ah, but it wasn’t the bat flip that got me.

Part 2 — The staredown

Alright, so the official context here is that this homer gave the Barrie Baycats the lead in the Intercounty Baseball League championship. We all spent time in our backyard as a kid, pretending to hit the home run that wins the Jack and Lynne Dominico Cup (I was a Kitchener Panthers fan growing up, myself). Just running around the bases, making that fake crowd noise that kids make from the back of their throat, screaming, “He’s won the Jack and Lynne Dominico Cup! He’s won the Jack and Lynne Dominico Cup!” over and over again.

So you can understand the excitement.

But there has to be unofficial context, too. There absolutely has to be.

Starlin Rodriguez isn’t doing this because he’s happy. He’s doing this because something happened earlier in the game. It doesn’t matter if it’s a brushback pitch or a chirping pitcher; something happened. I have no proof of this, but I know it in my bones to be true. I’m ... I’m scared to Google it because I’m scared there’s going to be a quote that reads, “Nah, they’re cool. I was just excited,” which would ruin my whole premise, so I’m instead going to immediately pivot to one of my favorite unwritten-rule GIFs:

despaigne

That’s Alfredo Despaigne, and it’s perfect. But I think Rodriguez has him beat. There’s a cool four seconds before he even makes a move toward first. That’s a cool 9 on the scale, and I’m pretty sure a 10 would mean that he’s still there right now, getting arrested by the sheriff’s office, so a 9 will have to do.

But that’s not even the most egregious part, somehow.

Part 3 - The trot

This home run trot is so petty. It’s absolutely inspirational. Rodriguez is running like he’s pulling the entire Molina family on a sled through a snowdrift, and I’m not even sure if it’s technically running. In competitive walking, the line between walking and running is both feet being in the air at the same time, and I’m not sure if that ever happens here. This is probably walking.

This is another 9, if only because the standards for a 10 are almost impossible to reach.

So this is an 8.66, which is a tremendous score, and Rodriguez should be proud.

But there’s another question: Should we celebrate this? I know we like to have fun on the internet and pretend like every bat flip is like the rowdy members of Chug-A-Lug House sticking it to the crusty old dean, but there is definitely a line that can be crossed. Would we laugh at someone scooting his butt on the ground the whole way around the bases, like an itchy labrador retriever? Probably, but we could also admit that it’s disrespectful in a way that makes a plurality of human beings uncomfortable.

If you don’t want to go reductio ad absurdum, you can ask yourself how long could a batter stand and watch before even you said, “OK, buddy. Let’s go”? Ten seconds? What about 15? What about a staredown that takes so long, the umpire throws the batter out of the game? We’re getting into the continuum fallacy, which goes something like this: You can lift a bag containing one grain of sand, so surely you can hold a bag with one more grain. And one more grain. And one more grain. Taken to its logical conclusion, this suggests you will be able to lift a ton of sand.

Which is absurd. At some point, one extra grain of sand is too much for you to lift. It sounds absurd, but it has to be true. And at some point, one split-second, one .001 mph slower on the trot, one extra inch on the bat flip is too much, even for you, cool and enlightened internet person.

This bat flip-staredown-trot combination is close. I want to love it, but we’re really staring into the abyss, here. This is probably Not Cool, even if you feel like a cop for thinking that way.

It’s sure fun to study and enjoy from here, though. It will be less fun when Rodriguez gets a baseball thrown at his butt, but so are the strange customs of the weirdos who play this sport. Until then, we’ll take all of the unwritten majesty you have to offer.