Home runs are exciting. As a fan, witnessing a home run is magical. If it puts our team in the driver’s seat, we go nuts, dumping popcorn and seeds all over the stands and losing all self-control. This behavior is acceptable, even expected. But, there are “rules” governing a player’s behavior after hitting the long ball.
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig crushed a three-run homer Wednesday night during a home stand against the New York Mets. Following his swing, Puig stood in the batter’s box, and as the ball sailed over the infield, he took a step toward first base. By the time the ball reached the wall, Puig had only moved about six steps down the line.
There are many names for this move but “taking a look” is the most common phrase. You just don’t do that. Puig didn’t take a look. Puig’s thuggish behavior was a flagrant violation of the laws of baseball. I’m actually stunned Puig was not sent a message in his next plate appearance.
Pitchers like Nolan Ryan occasionally saw a hitter admire their home runs. Almost without fail, that guy’s next at-bat would feature a 98 mph fastball aimed somewhere between the guy’s chin and ear. If the ball makes contact, it probably won’t kill the man, but it could end his career.
Even if the batter does get out of the way, being knocked down by a pitcher will shake you up; especially if it’s intentional. This response belongs to the old school. Pitchers want the edge. They demand intimidation be on their side. Some go out and get it. Others take a higher road.
If a pitcher doesn’t want to wait for the offender’s next at-bat, it’s not uncommon to send a message to the offender’s dugout by intentionally hitting the next batter. Again, I’m surprised this didn’t happen.
Nobody likes having their failures rubbed in their face and baseball players are especially proud. Standing in the batter’s box to admire your home run is insulting to the pitcher. One of the unwritten rules of baseball says the entire team defends everyone else in that dugout. When a player intentionally (or unintentionally) insults the pitcher, you can be sure the entire club won’t put up with it.
Puig did exchange words with Mets first baseman Wilmer Flores on his casual jaunt around the bases. The conversation was not family friendly. Puig had another chat with catcher Travis d’Arnaud upon crossing home plate.
Is baseball becoming more of a gentleman’s game? If so, would Puig have stayed in the box after going yard? Or is the question more alarming? Are we losing more and more of the richness behind the game of baseball?
Tell me what you think. Was Puig wrong? Should he have faced some player-to-player “discipline?” Leave a comment below with your thoughts.
Feature photo by Brigham Berthold