Whether baseball fans like it or not, the bat flip has become a part of MLB games.
Bat flips generated even more controversy in the MLB after Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista flipped his bat following a three-run home run to give Toronto a 6-3 lead over the Texas Rangers in the deciding game of the ALDS. Bautista's bat flip led Rangers pitcher Sam Dyson to criticize Bautista and the bat flip.
But bat flips have persisted this postseason.
Royals first basemen Eric Hosmer hit a sacrifice fly to right field that brought in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 14th inning of Game 1 of the World Series. Hosmer held on to his bat for a good five seconds after he made contact with the ball and then launched his bat to the side.
The bat flip added to the game because it was redemption for Hosmer, who had an error on a groundball in the eighth to give the Mets the lead.
Bat flips show a hitter’s self-expression and passion, adding a new dimension of entertainment to the game. Had Hosmer just jogged to first and then celebrated with his teammates, it wouldn’t have shown his passion in that clutch situation.
There are countless ways that baseball players express themselves in clutch situations. Until now, those expressions were not deemed disrespectful.
When former Chicago Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa hit a home run, he would hop three times and then trot around the bases. No one looked at Sosa’s three-hop celebration as disrespectful. Former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson would cross his arms and point to the sky after he completed a save. No one ever accused Wilson of disrespecting the game. These gestures didn’t take anything away from the game or show any disrespect. Instead, they contributed to fans’ excitement surrounding players’ big plays.
A player’s first thought after a big play is that he helped his team win, not that he showed up the opposing team’s pitcher. It isn’t about the pitcher. It is about showing emotion, and each player’s will to win for his team. Bat flips don’t show disrespect — they give the game a personality, something that baseball desperately needs.