August 23, 2011
Oh boy, this is really going to leave some traditionalists rattled up.
During a Little League World Series game on Tuesday, the European team from the Netherlands celebrated a home run with an "earthquake" reaction right after their honkballin' teammate hopped onto home plate. As big Phayson Antonio stood still after his sixth-inning homer, all of the other Dutch players fell down around him, as if his landing on the ground had produced a huge tremor.
Though the timing was right, I'm guessing the Netherlands team didn't plan the routine as a response to Tuesday's earthquake on the Eastern seaboard. It occurred only about an hour after the actual quake hit and I'm sure Team Europe had no idea of what was going on outside their consolation game against Team New England in Williamsport, Pa.
Rather, you can probably put money on the influence of big league ballplayers being truly international. Prince Fielder(notes) and the Milwaukee Brewers pulled off a similar routine near the end of the 2009 season and the reverberations were so strong that the San Francisco Giants sought retribution against the burly slugger the following spring training.
Choreographed "rain delay theater" entertainment by minor league baseball teams have also helped the increase popularity by being viewed thousands of times online.
So considering that, I think what we're looking at is a case of kids being kids and imitating what they see on TV. Bryce Harper(notes)-style eyeblack, after all, was the hot fashion trend of the 2010 LLWS.
But if you really want to blame someone, take aim at Fielder and the rest of the grownups who offended traditional sensibilities by doing something unusual and different. (I've written in the past that I had no problem with Fielder's move, though I understand why some did. The Brewers continue to ruffle feathers with their "beastmode" antics.)
Also to blame if you're into that sort of thing: The practice of allowing players at lower levels to leave the dugout to celebrate every home run while the game is still going on. Despite Antonio's home run, Team Europe didn't even end up winning the game, falling 8-7 after Team New England scored five runs in the final frame. If the LLWS really wanted to curb any future displays like the one we saw on Tuesday, it'd keep the team in the dugout after home runs.