September 08, 2009
Part Yokozuna's Sumo Smash and part Bowser's attack in Super Mario 3, Sunday's seismic celebration between Prince Fielder(notes) and his Milwaukee Brewers teammates following a 12th inning walkoff homer against the Giants has registered an 8.3 on MLB's Richter scale.
Dividing those who see baseball as an excuse to have some over-the-top fun and those who believe humility is key in a season where even the best teams lose 60+ times, the ensuing debate reveals a lot on the different ways we all consume and enjoy baseball.
Humor over honor? Raucous over respectful? Exuberant over empathetic?
The Giants, of course, didn't give glowing reviews to Fielder's shirt-untucking trip around the bases and homeplate knockdown finale, especially not in the heat of their pursuit of the National League wild card. Pitching coach Dave Righetti stared at Fielder while he gave a TV interview, pitcher Matt Cain(notes) shook his head and coach Ron Wotus climbed the dugout steps to display his disapproval. Though no Giants would go on the record to slam Fielder — they were really taking the honor code seriously — it was quite apparent they were tucking away the memory until next year's series.
On the other side, Brewers manager Ken Macha wasn't happy with the performance either, but the player participants — who didn't notify their skip of any potential choreography — were happy with the result:
"I'm as old school as anybody but there's nothing wrong with that," reliever David Weathers(notes) told the Journal-Sentinel. "You've got to have some fun. I've seen a lot worse things go on than that.
"We're just trying to have some fun. It's not disrespect for the other team. It's not about them. It's about us."
Needless to say, if there were a 2009 pennant awarded for rubbing opponents the wrong way, the Brewers would have long since clinched it. By my count, the list of competitors irked by the 2009 Crew now includes the disrespected Giants, the fashion-minded Cardinals, the beanballing Pirates and Cubs announcer Bob Brenly. Throw in Fielder's attempted forced entry into the Dodgers clubhouse last month and you've got a team that produces an amount of headlines that's disproportionate to their fourth place standing in the NL Central.
How do I feel about the whole brew-ha-ha? Well, I'm not sure if it's logical to judge each baseball celebration on a case-by-case basis, but that's the route I generally take.
And while I like the Gulliver's Travels photo produced by Fielder's plan — really, it's a blogger's dream and quite a striking image — I think it would have been better to save the creativity for a situation when the win meant more for the Brewers then the loss did for their opponent. There are plenty of times to have fun in baseball, but directly after dealing a blow to the Giants' postseason hopes wasn't one of them.
On which side of the debate do you stand?