In case you missed it, Carlos Gomez and the Atlanta Braves had some fun last night.
Still steaming over Paul Maholm hitting him in the knee a few months ago, Gomez hit a home run in the first inning of Wednesday night's game and took some time to admire it. Braves catcher Brian McCann did not take kindly to that, yelling "Fucking move, (inaudible)" [EDIT: @BrewerNation sent me a Tout he made showing the inaudible part to be "God dammit"]. From what I could tell, Paul Maholm started to yell at Gomez, too. Then Freddie Freeman. Only after rounding first base did Gomez start running his mouth back at those three.
The coup de grace, Brian McCann blocked Gomez's path home about ten feet up the third base line leading to the two going nose-to-nose and the dugouts to clear, which resulted in Aramis Ramirez sustaining an injury that will probably keep him out for the last few games of the season.
After the game, people had strong opinions. Many of those opinions were that Gomez was at fault because he should have just tucked his head and run the bases immediately and in silence.
Here is my rule:
If you get upset over a celebration or call a player classless for celebrating an achievement or feel the need to point out when you think someone is breaking some stupid "unspoken rule", you are the worst kind of fan. Same goes for certain players and teams. You are not the keepers of some book of sacred rules. Knock it off.
Was Gomez's home run so important or glorious that it required staring down for as long as he did? Nah, of course not. Does it matter that Gomez stared down that home run? Absolutely 100 percent no. No. It doesn't matter. Gomez didn't slow down the game by more than five seconds. He didn't cause a natural disaster. He watched a ball he hit really hard fly over the outfield wall.
Why on earth shouldn't an athlete, whose main goal is to do things like hit home runs, celebrate his achievements for a brief period? Sure it may be slightly annoying if he does it all the time, but oh my god it is not a big deal. If some architect walked by a building he designed and lingered for a bit to admire his work, would you begrudge him that? Stop thinking that baseball is so far above everything that no player should show emotion ever.
When was it decided that baseball can't be fun anymore? It's not just baseball, of course. Every sport is taken to seriously by at least some people. But baseball in particular has this pervasive sense of self-righteousness that can't be ignored.
This is a Brewers fan blog, I'm a Brewers fan, here are some Brewers examples that are cited as being "against the spirit of the game": Prince Fielder's explosion walk-off celebration, "beast mode", untucking. Oh god, the untucking. Who would have known that a player pulling his shirt out from his pants post-game would incite such a reaction. Not one of those three celebrations caused any harm. None were done maliciously. None caused any changes to the game being played. They were fun, light hearted, and, in part, meaningful. And a subset of baseball fans (and baseball players and management) ruined that. Teams and players should be allowed to have personality without fear of being told that's wrong.
Classlessness is Ty Cobb. Classlessness is if Matt Kemp actually raped that girl ten years ago. Classlessness is Francisco Rodriguez's domestic violence. Classlessness is Cap Anson keeping African-Americans out of baseball. Classlessness is fixing games. Those are extreme examples, of course, and go a step behind just being "classless". You get the point.
But classlessness is not: Throwing Up The T, untucking your shirt, celebrating a win in a less-than-reserved fashion, watching a home run, making a fist pump after a great play of big strikeout, or doing anything to have any fun ever. I've seen people criticize teams who celebrate clinching a playoff spot with champagne in the clubhouse, because apparently even that isn't an appropriate time to be happy. It's getting absolutely ridiculous.
There's a massive amount of glorifying the past in America's pastime, but back in the "good ol' days", there was Eddie Gaedel, there were people like Yogi Berra giving interviews that were actually interesting, there was Billy Loes saying his team would lose in the 1952 World Series. There were stories that would make a subset of today's fans shudder in disgust if they occurred today.
And you know what, I'm not just saying this because I'm a Brewers fan. I was absolutely perfectly 100 percent OK with the Diamondbacks doing their version of beast mode. I think it's great that the Dodgers took a dip in the D-Backs' outfield pool.
I don't mind passion. I think passion is good. Last night, I think the Braves' passion was misplaced. I think there are other things a team vying for the best record in the NL should be worrying about this close to the playoffs. Like maybe getting more than 19,558 people to attend a baseball game for a playoff-bound team. I'm not convinced that official number isn't exaggerated, either.
Again, it's not that I think Gomez was necessarily in the right during last night's game. It's that I think it shouldn't be a big deal. Yeah, he watched a home run a little longer than normal and apparently holds a grudge for a really long time. Whatever.
Just stop taking players enjoying themselves so seriously, people. It's good to be passionate about the game and to want your team to win so badly. It's not healthy to get up-in-arms about perceived showboating or small celebrations. I promise, you'd enjoy the game a lot more if you actually allowed yourself to see it as fun. That's why the best article on this whole thing is making fun of Gomez's goofy angry faces.
Sidenote: The people saying Gomez needs to be tested because of 'roid rage and the Ryan Braun connection are on a whole 'nother level of awful.