This video of Kenji Akashi’s walk-off backflip is astounding. This isn’t one of those simple “athlete can backflip” type things, but rather a full round-off into a flip that caught some serious air. I’m in awe of it, this also got me thinking.
What is fundamentally more disrespectful to an opponent: Flipping your bat on a walk-off home run, or cavorting into home plate with a backflip?
The bat flip has been a contentious issue for some time, which directly pits baseball purists against people who like fun. To this end the bat flip is seen as making a mockery of the game by the former, because of three core reasons.
- It’s showboating, and there shouldn’t be showboating in baseball.
- It adds an unnecessary flourish to a home run, designed to rub it in.
- It sends a direct message to the pitcher that they failed.
Now, under these three criteria the backflip is identical to the bat flip. They both achieve the same purpose, however there’s a key differentiator here: Timing.
The bat flip is almost instantaneous. It can easily be blended with the joy and emotion of hitting a home run. It’s also presumptuous, and puts a bit of spice on the play with the batter saying “I know this is going to go yard.”
The backflip feels more intentional though. Especially rounding off and flying through the air. I’ve got to think that Akashi made the decision to flip before he’d even rounded second. There’s definitely still emotion and joy, but that time buffer leads me to believe it’s a more disrespectful act. Like you’re saying to a pitcher “that was all so easy I have the energy to do THIS!” And then flipping on them like a kid at a trampoline park.
I might even go so far as to say the walk-off backflip is the most disrespectful action a batter can take — but he missed the plate all together and had to go back.
My favorite part of the back flip celebration is that Akashi initially missed the home plate on landing so the teammates were like "here! here! here!!" #NPB pic.twitter.com/0DcSlglsVe— Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) April 25, 2019