These days, there really isn't anything baseball fans love more than a debate between the Guardians Of The Game and The New Wave. And hey, I'm totally on the latter side. Give me bat flips, give me creative celebrations, give me flair, give me dancing, give me anything that makes you look forward to the next day's game. I'm here for it. And though this fight looks like it's being won by our side, there's still some small losses.
And then sometimes people miss the point entirely. Which is what we got here on Wednesday.
Javy Baez's bat flip didn't cause his teammates to be a little curious because of a bat-flip or the show of personality. These are the Cubs for christ's sake. They celebrate clipping their nails passionately. And it didn't cause Clint Hurdle to need another hip replacement because he thought it was disrespectful to the Pirates. Hurdle may be old-school in a lot of ways but this isn't usually one of them. Maybe I'm giving him too much credit for his shift-happy ways, but I like to pretend.
No, the thing was the Cubs were up eight runs when this happened. And Baez had already homered twice. When you're making a big show of how disappointed you are in the outcome of an AB when your team is basically assured of a win, it makes it look like you care about your stats more than the teams' results. While baseball is an individual sport guised as a team sport, winning the game, series, division, league, World Series remain the main goals. That's what we're all here for, after all. Being "on a team" still matters. Or did you wonder why Sammy Sosa still hasn't been invited back and all his teammates basically hated his guts even though he was the only reason anyone paid attention most years?
You may recall years ago that Manny Ramirez, hardly a bastion of baseball etiquette, got into a fight with Kevin Youklis in the Red Sox dugout when Youk went all...well, Youk, after an AB went sour when the Red Sox were up 10. Again, Manny's complaint, rightly, was that it seemed like Youk was more interested in his performance than what the team had done. And if you're angering Manny Ramirez about such a thing, you've really turned a trick.
Sure, hitting three homers in a game would have been a first for Javy. And there's nothing wrong with wanting to do that. There's nothing wrong with being disappointed you didn't. But to make a show of it puts one above the team. Perspective required, and all that.
We know the Cubs are a loose bunch. They embrace fun like no other. But they don't embrace individual over team. That's why it took them seven minutes to punt Miggy Montero after he threw Arrieta under the bus. It's why Tommy La Stella needed the clearance of the clubhouse clergy before he could return to the team after his Iowa-strike. This seems to be the one rule to rule all rules.
That doesn't mean they're going to take kindly to an opposing manager addressing it, which is why Maddon and Baez came out hard against Hurdle's comments. They thought Hurdle missed the point too, and they'll clean their own house, thank you. And no problem with that, either.
-Yesterday's win will be one remembered for the whole season, but I like a lot of others missed it. After the score became 10-2 there were errands and other things to watch, of course. In some ways that will make it more memorable. The guilt will accompany me. I should have stuck it out, didn't, and missed out. That's one of the beauties of a game like that. Whether you were there (you're nuts) or stuck with it on TV, you know that everyone didn't. You got the reward not everyone did. And cheers to you. It's a lesson you have to learn over from time to time.
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