Managers reluctant to temper celebrations

June, 1, 2010
6/01/10
2:45
PM ET
As Larry Brown Sports notes, Kendry Morales certainly isn't the first athlete injured while celebrating. And he probably won't be the last, as most managers don't want to serve as traffic cops after a dramatic win.

Here's Kansas City manager Ed Yost:


    "Part of the fun of a walk-off win is the excitement that’s generated," he said. "You fight hard, and you’re pushing hard and, suddenly, the game is over and your emotions pour out. I don’t think you want to stop that.

    "You might want to see it tempered down a little bit. All I know is I would like to practice our walk-off celebrations a lot more than we have so far. Then we can refine it."

I think he means tamped down a bit, but that's OK; managers aren't paid to know the intricacies of the language. Here's another manager's take:


    The Twins actually have been through such an event. When they jumped around the field following their series-clinching victory at Oakland in the 2002 playoffs, infielder Denny Hocking fell to the ground and was spiked by a teammate. Hocking, knocked out for the entire American League Championship Series against Anaheim, initially suggested the spiking was intentional.

    That's a long time between noteworthy injuries in celebrations -- a point Twins manager Ron Gardenhire tried to make Sunday.

    "Probably 1,000 celebrations over the course of the last five years and there's one injury and now you want us to quit," he said. "I don't tell them what to do at home plate. That's just an unfortunate accident whether he jumped up and landed on someone's foot or, as Denny Hocking said, someone took him out on purpose."

Actually, we checked. From 2006 through yesterday, there were 296 walk-off home runs. Granted, there are other celebrations. But it's those walk-off home runs that seem to involve the most players and the most exuberance. Managers want their players to enjoy themselves. But the crazy celebrations aren't a necessary condition of the game. It's often said that baseball is a marathon rather than a sprint, and there was a time, not so long ago, when players treated the game that way. I suppose they still do, most of the time.

But how many times does someone have to get hurt after hitting a game-ending home run, before it's smart to temper those celebrations? Is the answer 1-in-296 times? Is it 1-in-500? Is a team that dogpiles the hero more likely to win its next game than the team that doesn't? Is it more likely to win 90 games? This is a simple cost/benefit analysis. Except while we can roughly figure the cost, the benefit's impossible to even guess at.

In the absence of compelling evidence, I'll just go with Ron Washington's take: "Certainly don't need somebody getting hurt after you win a ballgame."

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