Sunday, May 24, 2009

Save the Celebrations For When It Really Counts

I picked up this morning's newspaper and saw an astonishing sight on it: the Yankees actually lifted Melky Cabrera on their shoulders after he got the game-winning hit in the ninth to beat the Phillies, 5-4.

So tell me, exactly what championship did the Yankees win on Saturday?

This kind of thing has been bothering me about baseball for a while now. And now I thought I'd finally comment on it. Is it me or are these ninth inning and late inning celebrations after a team wins (the so-called "walkoff" wins) getting absolutely silly and borderline stupid?

I'm not picking on the Yankees per se (although I enjoy doing it), as every team has been doing it for some time now. Listen, teams should be happy when they pull one out in the ninth or extra innings. But I have been disturbed by some of these "celebrations" lately.

Teammates pounding each other, and I mean with fists, trying to be funny. Players literally tearing at the game's hero. Guys acting like they won the World Series because they happened to get a win in their last turn at-bat.

I have predicted for some time that it WILL happen that a player will get a serious injury that will land him on the disabled list because of this silliness. I remember about 5 or 6 years ago in a AAA game a guy hit a homer to win it and was met by a mob scene at home plate, and in the ensuing nonsense blew out a knee and was done for the season. (I can't remember his name or team, but it did make the national news when it happened. But since it happened in the minors, few really took notice.)

I see these wild celebrations and I hold my breath when they happen, especially if my team is involved. I can remember in past years players coming out and congratulating themselves after pulling one out of the late fire. And of course in big games like late-season pressure wins and postseason games, the celebrating goes up (as it should because it means so much).

But just because a guy wins a game in May in the final inning is no reason to treat him like a conquering hero. I'm waiting for the day when he gets blasted by his insane teammates, gets hurt and wishes he hadn't gotten that winning base hit.

That day is coming, and maybe these guys will finally calm down a bit when they pull out an ordinary game that isn't a playoff game.

But then again, maybe not.

1 comment:

John Brooks said...

I couldn't really disagree more about this.

This is part of what makes baseball great. It's often criticized by fans of lesser sports for having so many games per season that none seem to matter. Those of us who love the game know that they *all* matter, and for the fan who dedicates three hours of their day to a single game, an explosive, walk-off ending is a thrill.

Of course it can get out of control, and of course there is the risk of injury. But there's *always* such a risk, no matter what a player is doing.

The natural and very human response to a walk-off win makes baseball better, not worse. And in the specific case of the Yankees, a team that is loathsome in no small part because of it history of apparent unwillingness to have fun and show real team spirit, it's maybe particularly nice to see. The shadow of "professionalism" cast down on the Yanks from the Steinbrenner regime made the team seem not only like a gang of mercenaries, but a lifeless one, which provided too much of a distraction to those of us who hate them because we're supposed to. But we don't need reasons. It's much nicer to despise the Yankees just because they're the Yankees, not because they're a bunch of joyless, thuggish brutes.