Monday, September 24, 2012
Keep on clapping, Oakland A's
By David Schoenfeld
When the Oakland A's hit three home runs against the Yankees in the 13th inning on Saturday, they apparently celebrated in a manner that Yankees infielder Eric Chavez called "high schoolish" and "pretty unprofessional," referring to some sort of orchestrated cheering and clapping celebration.
I re-watched the inning on the YES network broadcast and didn't see what Chavez was referring to, but here's my take: Who cares? I agree with Oakland designated hitter Jonny Gomes, one of the few veterans on the team, who told ESPNNewYork:
"Listen, we've got 17 rookies in here, you know? I mean, these guys are playing the game to have fun, you know? These guys aren't playing the game to go to arbitration. These guys aren't playing the game for free agency. They're playing the game for fun, you know? And when you take fun out of the game, you're going to have 17 rookies crumble."
A's manager Bob Melvin also defended his club, saying his players respect the game on the field. "If you try to keep things loose in the dugout, there's nothing wrong with that," he said.
The last thing baseball needs to crack down on are players celebrating and showing emotion. There is already too much of an old-school, "don't show up the other team" mentality in the sport. Do we want to see MLB turn into the No Fun League? No.
For those of us groomed on baseball in the '70s and '80s, there was actually more stuff that could be classified as "non-professional" back then, from Reggie Jackson lovingly staring at his home runs at home plate to Rickey Henderson's little dance and home-run trot to Pascual Perez's theatrics or Al Hrabosky's weird antics before pitches. It was all part of the entertainment product. Heck, think of Gaylord Perry's ridiculous gyrations before each pitch when he'd touch his jersey and cap as if were he loading up the baseball (which, at times, he undoubtedly was). Could you imagine such nonsense today?
There's a fine line, of course. Some of the NFL celebrations went too far or players were doing touchdown celebrations and sack dances while trailing by 21 points. That's absurdity and self-glorification, not celebrating the moment.
But cheering and clapping from the dugout? Hey, it's not for the buttoned-down Yankees that's fine, but it seems to work for the A's.
Now, you have to be careful, I suppose: The Yankees came back and won that game.