Yasiel Puig has been the star of the show this postseason for the Dodgers. The 26-year-old right fielder has a slash line of .414/.514/1.169 in the 2017 playoffs with a home run and six RBIs.
He has also drawn the ire of some observers of the game.
Puig has been somewhat of a polarizing figure since he came into the Majors in 2013. His showboating antics have caused some writers and commentators to question his work ethic and describe him as “insufferable.”
Here’s the thing though: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating.
Ever since bat flips became common among home run hitters, baseball fans and media have been divided, with those opposed to the celebration claiming that it goes against the unwritten rules of baseball. But those rules are outdated and need a change.
The most commonly cited “unwritten rule” is that you don’t pimp a home run. If you hit a ball out of the park, you just jog around the bases without showing any signs of celebration.
In a sport where the winning team in a playoff series goes into the locker room after the game and sprays champagne all over the walls, you can’t celebrate an individual accomplishment. In a sport where the winning team celebrates among themselves on the field after a game and never shakes hands with the opposing team, you can’t celebrate and individual accomplishment.
If you decided to be flashy after knocking a ball over the outfield fence, you’re liable to be hit by a pitch on your next at bat.
Think about that for a second. If you flip your bat after hitting a home run, the pitcher is very likely to throw at you when you are at the plate next. Because you did something to celebrate that did not affect the pitcher at all, the pitcher is allowed to cause physical harm to you, maybe even putting your career at risk.
But that’s just part of the unwritten rules.
Every other major sport allows its players to celebrate when they do something good. Football fans love when a player celebrates after scoring a touchdown, and the league recently relaxed the rules to allow for more elaborate celebrations.
In NASCAR, the winning driver stays in his car and does burnouts on the track after the race is over, and no one ever complains.
In soccer, players run all the way across the field after scoring a goal.
In hockey, sirens sound and lights flash after the home team scores a goal.
But if you even think about tossing a bat after crushing a home run, you’re the worst kind of person in baseball and you’re ruining the game.
Players who partake in bat flips and other antics are simply having fun. Jose Bautista’s bat flip in the 2015 ALDS was an act of pure emotion and it fired up an excitable Rogers Centre crowd. Puig has had the same effect on Dodgers fans this postseason, helping them get pumped up as the game goes on.
There was a point in Yasiel Puig’s career when his immaturity caused him to be sent down to the minor leagues, but he has since come around and proven his worth to this Dodgers team. In a season where he played the most games of his career while knocking out 24 home runs and helping the Dodgers to an NL pennant, it’s safe to say Puig’s antics are no longer an issue to anyone who understands how outdate these unwritten rules are.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.