Baseball is a gentleman's game. Everybody is expected to act like they're playing golf ... no excessive or loud celebrations, no showing up your opponent .... that kind of thing. Only, it's not actually a rule in baseball. It's some ancient code of conduct players are expected to live by and follow.
But, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig not-so-respectfully disagrees. And I do, too.
I get that the unwritten rules are part of baseball's charm. But, we live in a different time now; athletes are entertainers. In other sports, particularly at the amateur level, we enjoy seeing them celebrate. And be jovial. And act like they're actually enjoying what they do.
Why does it have to be different at the professional level? And, particularly, in baseball?
I like watching Yasiel Puig. I think the way he pimped a 350-foot triple like it was a 500-foot home run was wonderful. His wild celebration after reaching third base anyway was even better. What's the crime in that?
Maybe part of fans' and players' hatred toward Puig stems from the damage he did against most big-league clubs this season. In 432 plate appearances spanning 104 games, Puig smashed 19 home runs and hit .319/.391/.534. Players who hit like that will often rile up fans of opposing teams anyway, regardless of how they go about reaching those numbers.
Maybe Puig just didn't kill the Colorado Rockies enough for me to get mad. Of the 11 teams against whom Puig had at least 15 plate appearances, only the Marlins induced a lower OPS than the .771 figure at which Rockies pitchers held the dynamic rookie.
Or, maybe, I'm just not as much of an elitist about the sport I love. Maybe I'll wildly celebrate my rare achievement. And, if baseball doesn't like that, perhaps it should write down the unwritten rules or get rid of them altogether.
After watching him in Arizona Fall League action (which, by the way, you can follow here), MLB.com's Bernie Pleskoff believes Rockies minor league outfielder Tim Wheeler can become a contributor at the big-league level as soon as next season.