There’s been a big hullabaloo lately about celebrations and whether or not baseball players celebrating what happens should be condoned or if its against the so-called unwritten rules of the game. For the Cardinals, this game to a head following Game Three when Yasiel Puig smacked a triple off the wall (that he thought was a home run when he hit it), stood and admired it, and then raised his hands in celebration.
Some of the Cardinals players didn’t approve, led by Carlos Beltran. “As a player, I just think he doesn’t know. That’s what I think. He really doesn’t know. He must think that he’s still playing somewhere else. He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that – great ability, great talent. I think with time, he’ll learn that you’ve got to act with a little bit more calm.”
Of course, after Beltran and Adam Wainwright’s comments about how they felt about the Dodgers players probably toeing the line between celebration and showing up your opponent, Deadspin (who seemingly has had a bulls eye on the Cardinals the last couple weeks), pointed out the Cardinals celebrating over the previous games after good players.
On Puig, I think it was Dodgers’ catcher A.J. Ellis who described him as a “12 year old playing Little League.” Except that he’s 22 years old and this isn’t Little League any more. And maybe I just don’t watch enough Little League games, but I don’t see those sorts of actions in a Little League game. And I highly doubt most coaches would let their players get away that type of behavior. Mine wouldn’t have.
Now, do I think that players shouldn’t be allowed to express emotion on the field? No. I think they should be able to, but there is the line you have to be cognizant of between celebrating the moment, celebrating yourself, and celebrating your opponent’s failure.
A player that many have brought up is Albert Pujols and how he used to stand and watch his home runs after he hit them. If you know it’s gone, why not watch your home run? Not everyone can hit one. I’ve never hit one in all my years of playing baseball and softball. But Albert, to my knowledge, never threw up his hands to say, “Look at me! I did that! I’m awesome!”
And if anyone deserved the right to be able to do that, it was probably Pujols who is pretty much one of the best players of all time.
The only time I can get behind a player crossing that line into celebrating yourself is on a walk-off. But that wasn’t the case here.
Most players who have played the game are quick to remind you that the game is fleeting and you need it a lot more than it needs you.
And that’s something Puig may have to be attentive to. During his first month in the majors, he started 26 games, hit .443 with 8 HR, 17 RBI, and had 15 extra base hits. But for the remainder of the season he started 70 games, hit .272 with 11 HR, 25 RBI, and just 27 extra base hits. He went from a star to just another player as the league adjusted to him.
He may continue to get star level hype, like Bryce Harper (who has yet to notch more than 60 RBI in a season), but it will be because he plays in LA. Time will tell just how Puig goes down in the history of the game. Is he a future star or is he just a footnote?