Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Friday, November 01, 2019

Baseball’s unwritten rules? Juan Soto grabs his crotch at them, and here’s hoping he starts a revolu

Someday, baseball will allow itself to evolve beyond the puritanical Hester Prynne routine that unfolds every time a player exhibits a little personality. Apostates and reprobates are expected to piously denounce their vile sins against The Game, which above all else, must be Respected.

Like Originalists expressing slavish devotion to their interpretations of the Founding Fathers, these self-appointed stewards seem intent on locking the game in the 18th century.

Praise be, then, that baseball’s next generation of stars appears determined to shake the shackles of condemnation. One of them just helped the Washington Nationals win the World Series.

If you hadn’t heard much about Juan Soto a month ago, the secret’s out now. The newly 21-year-old star is a generational talent. Last year, he became the first teenager ever to post a .400 on base percentage. He duplicated the feat at age 20, joining Hall of Famers Ted Williams, Mel Ott, and Al Kaline, as well as the all-time great Alex Rodriguez.

 

QLE Posted: November 01, 2019 at 01:25 AM | 44 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: juan soto, unwritten rules of baseball

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. helton Posted: November 01, 2019 at 09:17 AM (#5897674)
What a bunch of crap. Go ahead and show some personality and celebration as you hit a big HR. That's fine. Grabbing your crotch is classless and crude.

Just ask yourself, "How would it reflect on me as a parent if my son just grabbed his crotch on national TV after going yard?" That would be pretty embarrassing for me as a parent.

If that's the best example of the writer's "it's a culture thing" explanation for this behavior, then he's made a poor argument for stating his case.
   2. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: November 01, 2019 at 09:27 AM (#5897678)
As annoying as some of the "back in my day" folks are I think the "let the kids play" crowd is often just as annoying. It is perfectly possible and in fact reasonable to say "hey that bat flip was pretty cool" and then subsequently say "but that other behavior was not OK." Like just about everything else in life there is grey area. Also like everything else in life it is often a very personal thought. If you are OK with crotch grabbing, that's fine. I'm not.

Here's the thing. If a player wants to show emotion in some way that's fine. If some other player wants to show emotion by complaining about it, that's fine too. As long as it doesn't become "hit a dude in the head with a 95 MPH fastball" I don't really care. For me I didn't like Bregman's bat carry, I don't like Soto's crotch grab, I loved Soto's bat carry in response to Bregman's though. Kendrick screaming as he rounded the bases? Awesome. Rodney's arrow shooting routine? Hate it (as a rule I don't love scripted stuff like that).
   3. Fancy Pants Handle struck out swinging Posted: November 01, 2019 at 09:52 AM (#5897683)
I am afraid the only way I can respond to reading these comments, is to demonstratively grab my crotch, and thrust it in their general direction. Granted it doesn't have quite the same effect in text...
   4. PreservedFish Posted: November 01, 2019 at 10:26 AM (#5897690)
I see Soto's shuffle not as a calculated expression of egotism but rather a fundamentally quirky display. The shuffle is often prompted by a good pitch - a pitch called for a strike, or a good one the he's laid off for a ball - and if you look at his face, you'll see him nodding at the pitcher and smacking his lips in a way that to me says "oh, you're giving me the good ####? Ok buddy! I'm ready!" You'll also notice that he, like Beltre, is fond of calling on the baseline ump when he checks his swing. He is obviously trying to mess with the pitcher with the shuffle, but it seems like he's ultimately very light-hearted about it.
   5. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: November 01, 2019 at 10:39 AM (#5897696)
Yeah the shuffle itself is fine and kind of fun. It's a bit Beltreism. Grabbing your crotch when facing someone is a bad idea though.

One thing about the article, Tomase says things like this;

he frequently adjusts his cup in the direction of the mound while the gatekeepers shriek.

The guardians of the game's sacred unwritten rules can't scribble demerits quickly enough to account for Soto's constant transgressions.

That was nothing compared to the brouhaha that erupted during the World Series, however. In Game 6, Astros star Alex Bregman — himself an enthusiastic young standout who has been known to rub opponents the wrong way — earned criticism from every musty corner of the game for carrying his bat to first base after homering.


But nowhere in there does he actually SHARE any of this supposed outrage. Oh don't get me wrong, I'm sure if you look for it you can find it, but it's not nearly as significant or common as people think.
   6. The Duke Posted: November 01, 2019 at 10:42 AM (#5897702)
I don’t like the crotch grabbing thing much but I wish he were on my team
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 01, 2019 at 10:47 AM (#5897708)
"Epater la bourgeoisie" is so played out it's not funny. It's really sad when middle aged men are cheering it on.

Don't be a crude moron on National TV.

   8. PreservedFish Posted: November 01, 2019 at 10:59 AM (#5897715)
I don't think that Soto is trying to make a point about baseball decorum. That's in the author's head.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2019 at 11:02 AM (#5897718)
At least he's not grabbing other people's crotches.
   10. Brian Posted: November 01, 2019 at 11:57 AM (#5897744)
At least he's not grabbing other people's crotches.


It's a slippery slope ...
   11. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: November 01, 2019 at 12:00 PM (#5897746)
Don't be a crude moron on National TV.


Hey, you voted for the guy in 2016.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 01, 2019 at 12:08 PM (#5897749)
Hey, you voted for the guy in 2016.

I'd still root for Soto if he were on my team.
   13. Howie Menckel Posted: November 01, 2019 at 01:44 PM (#5897826)
At least he's not grabbing other people's crotches.

hey, as long as he's having fun while he does it, that's all that matters.
   14. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: November 01, 2019 at 01:58 PM (#5897830)
I don't really care about any of the old school vs. new school fights, but what I do care about is the Woke Baseball Brigade that goes around yelling that you must love a guy like Soto or you're somehow a Neanderthal. He's a hell of a player but I don't have to jump up and down and celebrate his antics/emotions.
   15. Lassus Posted: November 01, 2019 at 02:00 PM (#5897832)
To be fair, I don't think "stop hating on" is actually equal to "must love".
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2019 at 02:20 PM (#5897841)
I don't have to jump up and down and celebrate his antics/emotions.
Ahem. You're misusing the word. "Celebrating" is not jumping up and down. "Celebrating" is pounding on your chest, watching 10 feet from the plate as your long fly ball bounces off the wall, carrying your bat to first, grabbing your crotch, that sort of thing.
   17. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2019 at 02:25 PM (#5897842)
I posted this in another thread a while back, but I think the crux of the matter for me is this: It's off-putting that we're at a point in our culture - certainly in our sports culture, but I think it says something about our broader culture, too - where players can't or won't express pure joy, I think because there is a vulnerability associated with pure joy. So it has to come packaged with a large dose of aggression and/or self-aggrandizement to be considered suitably "macho." I don't think that's a good thing.
   18. PreservedFish Posted: November 01, 2019 at 02:28 PM (#5897845)
Is it better or worse than the days when players were supposed to suppress all emotion entirely?
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2019 at 03:08 PM (#5897858)
Is it better or worse than the days when players were supposed to suppress all emotion entirely?
Good question - although, when were those days? It's not like Carlton Fisk, Kirk Gibson, Joe Carter, Kirby Puckett, etc. got any criticism for their displays of joy after World Series heroics, did they? Yogi Berra and Don Larsen, etc. So it seems like this "no fun, no emotion" might be a straw man.
   20. . Posted: November 01, 2019 at 03:24 PM (#5897865)
I posted this in another thread a while back, but I think the crux of the matter for me is this: It's off-putting that we're at a point in our culture - certainly in our sports culture, but I think it says something about our broader culture, too - where players can't or won't express pure joy, I think because there is a vulnerability associated with pure joy. So it has to come packaged with a large dose of aggression and/or self-aggrandizement to be considered suitably "macho."]


The timing of the movement dovetails perfectly with the rise of social media aggression and the two are so related and intertwined that they might as well be the same thing.

Is it better or worse than the days when players were supposed to suppress all emotion entirely?


I know you didn't mean it in this way and this will sound harsh without wanting to be harsh, but there's no other conclusion to reach but that this is just another lie about history in the service of wokedom. There's never been a single time in post-Cassius Clay sports history in which players were expected to suppress all emotion, and there never was a time when they did suppress all emotion -- or really any emotion. Maybe in the 1950s they did or something, but that's now an eternity ago. No one gives a #### about the 1950s anymore.

As a simple and obvious example, Magic Johnson started dancing around the court in constant joy 45 years ago. No one seriously begrudged him his constant joy, or his displays thereof.
   21. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2019 at 03:30 PM (#5897867)
social media aggression
Define please?
   22. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2019 at 03:35 PM (#5897870)
Or take Ken Griffey Jr., who as far as I can remember was widely praised for playing with open expression of joy, happiness, enthusiasm, etc. He was criticized for wearing his cap backwards, which of course was asinine, but I don't remember any criticism of his emotions. Am I misremembering that?

EDIT: Also Ozzie Smith. Ron Santo with the heel-clicking.
   23. JAHV Posted: November 01, 2019 at 03:48 PM (#5897878)
Is it better or worse than the days when players were supposed to suppress all emotion entirely?


I would much rather have no emotion at all than what we have now. I experience emotions when I watch the game, but those emotions are all in response to the game itself. I admit that there are some cool moments I would miss - Howie Kendrick clapping his hands and then tearing the arms off of his teammates when he high-fived them, for example - but those don't have a significant impact on my enjoyment of the game. I think this is in large part how I was raised to play - my father stressed always being respectful above all else, don't get too high or too low, and while it's okay to accept praise humbly, do not seek it out or fail to acknowledge others' contributions.

I posted this in another thread a while back, but I think the crux of the matter for me is this: It's off-putting that we're at a point in our culture - certainly in our sports culture, but I think it says something about our broader culture, too - where players can't or won't express pure joy, I think because there is a vulnerability associated with pure joy. So it has to come packaged with a large dose of aggression and/or self-aggrandizement to be considered suitably "macho." I don't think that's a good thing.


I agree, and again, I offer Howie's homerun as an example, or a counterexample, I suppose, but one that occurs far too seldom. That seemed like the pure, unbridled joy - not self-congratulatory, but shared with teammates. It felt like "We're winning!!!" rather than "Look what I just did, everybody!"
   24. The Good Face Posted: November 01, 2019 at 03:59 PM (#5897881)
EDIT: Also Ozzie Smith. Ron Santo with the heel-clicking.


Seriously. Ozzie Smith was out there doing backflips in the infield ~40 years ago and the prevailing sentiment was that it was awesome.

   25. . Posted: November 01, 2019 at 04:00 PM (#5897882)
Define please?


Being in-your-face on social media. Which presupposes the existence of social media.
   26. RoyalFlush Posted: November 01, 2019 at 04:04 PM (#5897884)
Didn't Ozzie just do it on opening day before the game started? Maybe I'm misremembering, but that hardly seems like a fair comparison to what's being discussed.
   27. . Posted: November 01, 2019 at 04:06 PM (#5897886)
Google "Elmo Wright." Or Billy White Shoes Johnson. Or "Harold Carmichael, end zone shooting dice." Or "Redskins Fun Bunch." There are a katrillion examples like this.
   28. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2019 at 04:18 PM (#5897889)
Didn't Ozzie just do it on opening day before the game started?
I thought it was before most/all games (at least home games?). I seem to remember going to Busch as a kid and seeing him run out and do the flip, and I know I never went on Opening Day.

EDIT: Wiki has it as before Opening Day, All-Star games, and postseason games. Not sure that's totally accurate though.
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: November 01, 2019 at 04:30 PM (#5897891)
EDIT: Also Ozzie Smith. Ron Santo with the heel-clicking.


Bobby Thompson, Joe Carter, Joe Oliver (Game 2, 1990 WS).

Expressing joy joyfully has never been a problem in MLB.
   30. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: November 01, 2019 at 04:31 PM (#5897892)
Bobby Thompson,


Don't know him, but Bobby Thomson, sure.
   31. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2019 at 04:35 PM (#5897895)
Bobby Thompson played second base for the Giants in the '80s. Underrated player, but not particularly joyful ;).
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: November 01, 2019 at 04:38 PM (#5897896)
Damn, that p was added subsconsciously, because I know damn well Bobby was p-less.

And the Giants second sacker was more of a Robby than a Bobby (or was it a Robbie?)

   33. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2019 at 04:40 PM (#5897899)
He was Robby, I was just riffing. Like Rob Thomas.
   34. PreservedFish Posted: November 01, 2019 at 05:09 PM (#5897912)
It's not like Carlton Fisk, Kirk Gibson, Joe Carter, Kirby Puckett, etc. got any criticism for their displays of joy after World Series heroics, did they? Yogi Berra and Don Larsen, etc. So it seems like this "no fun, no emotion" might be a straw man.


I apologize. You're right. I was thinking about how stoicism used to be a stronger element to the sporting culture. But I hugely exaggerated the extent to which joylessness was ever expected or appreciated.

I think that you exaggerated too - I saw a LOT of pure joy at the end of Game 7, and last year Christian Vazquez's leap into Chris Sale's arms was a mirror image of Berra/Larsen. But you're right that angry-joy is more popular than it used to be. I do not know if it's a "problem with our culture" - I tend to think that's the sort of thing that one could study for years and still not really understand.
   35. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2019 at 05:26 PM (#5897919)
I think that you exaggerated too - I saw a LOT of pure joy at the end of Game 7, and last year Christian Vazquez's leap into Chris Sale's arms was a mirror image of Berra/Larsen.
Oh, I don't mean to say that there is no pure joy, and to the extent that my earlier post was a blanket statement, yeah, that was overstating the case. I just think that angry-joy has become significantly more prevalent (a) than before and (b) than happy-joy today (cue Ren & Stimpy references).
   36. winnipegwhip Posted: November 01, 2019 at 05:36 PM (#5897926)
Ron Santo with the heel-clicking.


How did he do that? He must have used the chair in the broadcast booth for support.
   37. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2019 at 05:39 PM (#5897928)
How did he do that? He must have used the chair in the broadcast booth for support.
No, true story: Santo had legs for his entire playing career. Two of 'em!
   38. Howie Menckel Posted: November 01, 2019 at 05:46 PM (#5897931)
Santo drew plenty of walks, too - he led the NL 4 times, in fact
   39. Walt Davis Posted: November 01, 2019 at 06:00 PM (#5897938)
Uncle Walt's Definitive Guide to the Proper Moral Reaction to Demonstrative Displays on the Base Ball Field (30th edition, original copyright 1878)

Spontaneous joy -- always acceptable
Choreographed joy -- acceptable
Thanks Mom -- acceptable
OMG I am a clutch god! -- acceptable in clutch situations
OMG I am a clutch god! -- unacceptable when leading/trailing by 8 runs
I am superior to you -- unacceptable
Eat this -- obnoxious
Striking a batter out or hitting a HR proves my manhood -- Puh-leeze, everybody does that now. Do you do a dance every time you wank too?
   40. Walt Davis Posted: November 01, 2019 at 06:03 PM (#5897940)
No, true story: Santo had legs for his entire playing career. Two of 'em!

Santo tied for the NL lead in triples in 1964 with 13.
   41. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: November 01, 2019 at 10:03 PM (#5897983)
Don't like Juan Soto? Do what Roberto Alomar did to Dennis Eckersley in the 9th, after Eckersley had ended the 8th inning with a strikeout, whirling fist pump and glare.

But not after Soto's retaliatory bat carry to first base, though; that was funny.
   42. Omineca Greg Posted: November 01, 2019 at 10:23 PM (#5897987)
Drinkin' your scotch
Grabbin' his crotch
Juan Soto you'd better
Watch your mien
A kid playin' the game
Umbrageous souls he'll inflame
And you know that notion
Just might be his aim
   43. Bug Selig Posted: November 02, 2019 at 08:05 AM (#5898057)
I just think that angry-joy has become significantly more prevalent (a) than before and (b) than happy-joy today (cue Ren & Stimpy references).
I think even angry (looking) joy can be OK - unless it is directed at someone in a "That's right, #####!" manner. I guess I am in the "Let them play" camp to the extent that though we envy them and they make a lot of money they still get anxious, frustrated, and sometimes catharsis looks angry/aggressive.

Don't be a douche.
   44. Jack Sommers Posted: November 03, 2019 at 12:37 AM (#5898271)
Don't like Juan Soto? Do what Roberto Alomar did to Dennis Eckersley in the 9th, after Eckersley had ended the 8th inning with a strikeout, whirling fist pump and glare.


Here is an article from 1992 about that. Check out the Author. ;)

Robothol!

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Eugene Freedman
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (June 2020)
(18 - 7:18am, Jun 04)
Last: chisoxcollector

NewsblogEmpty Stadium Sports Will Be Really Weird
(4764 - 7:09am, Jun 04)
Last: Lassus

NewsblogOT – NBA CoronaThread 2020
(3212 - 4:14am, Jun 04)
Last: Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean

NewsblogChris Archer out until 2021 due to thoracic outlet surgery
(27 - 2:10am, Jun 04)
Last: Sunday silence

Hall of MeritMost Meritorious Player: 1927 Results
(2 - 10:15pm, Jun 03)
Last: DL from MN

Hall of Merit2021 Hall of Merit Ballot Discussion
(291 - 9:24pm, Jun 03)
Last: Dr. Chaleeko

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 6-3-2020
(14 - 9:07pm, Jun 03)
Last: The Honorable Ardo

Hall of MeritMost Meritorious Player: 1927 Discussion
(9 - 8:58pm, Jun 03)
Last: Cblau

NewsblogReigning CL MVP Hayato Sakamoto one of two Giants players to test positive for COVID-19
(4 - 8:25pm, Jun 03)
Last: Ron J

NewsblogSources: MLB mulls shorter season, full prorated salaries for players
(33 - 6:50pm, Jun 03)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

NewsblogRoyals won’t lay off or furlough baseball operations employees despite MLB uncertainty
(3 - 5:15pm, Jun 03)
Last: Zach

NewsblogJudge: Len Dykstra’s reputation is so bad it’s legally impossible to libel him
(27 - 4:09pm, Jun 03)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

Gonfalon CubsBeing cheap is not a plan
(108 - 1:40pm, Jun 03)
Last: Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield

Hall of MeritMost Meritorious Player: 1927 Ballot
(7 - 1:38pm, Jun 03)
Last: MrC.

NewsblogOT: Wrestling Thread November 2014
(2438 - 11:17pm, Jun 02)
Last: Tubbs is Bobby Grich when he flys off the handle

-->

Page rendered in 0.4070 seconds
46 querie(s) executed