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Thursday, April 03, 2008

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From Abraham:

For the button-down Yankees, it was an unusual display and some players might have taken offense. But Thomas, 40, brushed it off.

"Pitchers have been doing that the last five or six years now," he said. "It's no big deal. ... I've got no problem with it. But baseball is a very humbling game if you play long enough."

Harlan Chamberlain, the pitcher's father, introduced himself to Thomas during batting practice. He told Thomas that his son had a poster of the slugger in his bedroom when he was growing up.

"They seem like nice people," Thomas said. "Like I said, I don't mind him getting excited."

Girardi acknowledged that not every opponent might feel like Thomas. Chamberlain's celebration could cause some hard feelings.

"It's possible it could do that, but I'm not going to take that away from him because I don't think he's showing people up," he said. "There are other pitchers who do it. ... I think it's emotion, and you want emotion in this game. Sometimes people take the emotion the wrong way. That we're supposed to be just playing. But I think emotion is good in this game as long as you're not showing anyone up."

Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells found Chamberlain to be a "very respectful kid" when they met and he doesn't mind the fist pump.

"He's an emotional kid, and that's how he gets his energy," Wells said. "I don't think he should change his personality. He's not doing it to show anybody up. He's doing it because he's legitimately excited by the moment."

From Kepner:

Thomas, 39, said he had accepted the fact that young pitchers celebrated more vigorously these days. Thomas said the trend started a few years ago with the former Angels closer Troy Percival.

“The game has changed,” Thomas said. “You’ve got a lot of young guys who’ve been doing that for the last six or seven years. He was fired up. It was a big moment, and he came up big. Good for him.”

I appreciate Wells' and Thomas' maturity. I also appreciate Joba's enthusiasm - the note about his father seeking out Frank Thomas is genuinely moving. I hope many fans can take Wells' and Thomas' lead when responding to players' displays of excitement or pride in accomplishment, regardless of their uniform or their level of gesticulation. Really, the only thing that rankles me with any kind of significance is unnecessary taunting or trash-talking or misplaced enthusiasm. Watching a wondrous shot (and NOT a "I think it's a homer but it's actually staying in the park and therefore only a double") or pumping a fist is just fine, unless that fist pump comes after giving up a tying or losing run but somehow wiggling out of a worse situation (K-Rod comes to mind...). Joba closing out an inning on opening day in a tight spot simply doesn't offend.

But, for some reason, I don't think my hopes will be satisfied the next time Joba goes nuts after nailing down the seventh inning and Sox fans complain about his excitability or after the next Manny stare at a (legit!) tater and Yankees fans articulate their hatred for the slugger. Fans are fans, I guess.

we've already had this discussion before paul, most recently in the opening day [redux] yankee game thread, but what the heck, let's indulge ourselves...sf protested a perceived double standard re. paps and joba in his comment at 9:31pm, which i'm guessing is also the point of your post...sf's comment also included a veiled defense of manny's tendency to celebrate his homers...

to which i responded:
"...not to start anything sf, but i think the difference is that joba is showing some youthful exuberance, not deliberately calling attention to himself...the guy hasn't been on the big stage much and it's natural for him to get a bit excited when he does something well...the better comparison is with paps, who demonstrates the same excitement, but may calm down at some point giving [given] his extended success, and start behaving more he's been there before...but manny?, come on, he is primping, pure and simple...after 490-something homers, you'd think he'd start acting like he'd been there before at some point..."

let me add that this is nothing new, or unique to the sox and yanks...anybody remember tug mcgraw or mark fydrich?...

looks like wells and thomas get it...

looks like we cross-posted sf, because i was interrupted by a phone call and didn't look for further comments before i hit "post"...no matter, looks like we both haven't changed our positions...

"pimping" "calling attention to himself"

I just don't think this holds water. I honestly don't think he's aware of it, he just likes watching bombs.

I just remembered that Joba's favorite player was Frank Thomas. And he had just struck him out in a big spot. In that situation, I think it would be warranted for anyone to do cartwheels.

It is hard to "act like you've been there before" when you have no idea what "being there" is like, right?

Again, I am not really interested in a big throwdown over the differences between Manny staring at a homer and Joba and Paps fist-pumping. Both exhibit pride in accomplishment, excitement, and both, to an extent, call attention to oneself. Both don't really bother me, to be clear dc. Here's something that is sure to rankle, but I don't intend this antagonistically, just as an observation: if anything Manny's act is less noticeable (except for the fact that there are now television replays!) since he's DOING WHAT EVERYONE IN THE STADIUM IS DOING, which is watching a ball sail out of the park. When a pitcher whiffs a player in a big spot, everyone is watching the pitcher. That's the absolutely ironic thing. Nobody in a park watches Manny as soon as the ball leaves the bat, and nobody would notice or care (fans, that is) if there were no television cameras on him: they watch the ball. Just like Manny. I think the bigger offense for a player who just hit a home run is a super slow trot around the bases, something like the "one flap up" that Jeffrey Reynolds use to do when he sauntered around the paths. That's when a batter gets the attention, when he is running after a dinger, not when the ball is still in the air.

"I honestly don't think he's aware of it"

I know there's a well developed Manny-in-his-own-world meme, but that's kind of silly, isn't it? He's not a dumb guy, and after a decade plus in the bigs, he surely knows what he's doing. Whether it's objectionable is another story. But let's not pretend he doesn't have agency.

I would agree with DC that there is a difference between the natural exuberance of Paps/Joba and what seems to me more intentional celebration of Manny (and, to a lesser degree, ARod, and many others). There's a point—we know it when we see it!—when this is designed to show up the opposition (L'Affaire Proctor comes to mind), which is unfortunate, but it seems to me we need to get used to the idea that this has become a part of baseball culture and our culture more broadly (eg The Donald), and that we're going to have the guys who put on a harmless show for the fans when they hit a dinger (eg, Papi) and also traditional "gamer" types who cycle the pats heads down like Matsui.

we know it when we see it!

Dude, you stole my line.

The Joy of Sox link says a difference between Joba and Papelbon is that Paps' was actually saving a game and the fist pump was over pretty quickly, whereas Joba's was in the eighth inning and quite a bit longer.

Is this relevant? I don't know. All I know is I like it when Papelbon does it and hate it when Chamberlain does it. Mostly, I hate it when Chamberlain does it because it means he's been successful.

It's not about who's watching who, SF. You really think a guy is thinking about whether he's being watched or not?

Fair's fair. Watching homeruns is still not acceptable baseball. ESPECIALLY because your JOB as the BATTER is to RUN WHEN THE BALL IS HIT. Can't really stress this enough. When you put the ball in play, you run fast until you see the umps give the 'out' or the 'out of the park' sign. Doing anything else is absolutely, positively, showing off, and is bad baseball (as evidenced by a number of times Manny watched the ball only to have it fall into play) no matter if you have even the best of intentions.

It's also worth pointing out that many Yankee fans and members of the blog world, in the time between Paps showing up and when Joba came on the scene, heavily criticized Paps for his excitement/fist pumps. It's amazing how quickly those attitudes went away with the arrival of Joba.

Overall, by the way, I like fist pumps. I like my players to show emotion. I'm feeling emotion, after all, and it's neat when it's clear you're sharing that with one of your favorite players.

So I don't begrudge either pitcher his fist pumps (or Beckett or anyone else), or Manny his loving home run gaze (as long as it's actually a home run). Just sucks when it's happening at the expense of the Red Sox.

YF:

would you agree/disagree or offer more nuance in the momentary difference between when a hitter is circling the paths and when the ball is still in the air? Aren't most eyes focused on the ball, at least until it is out of the park?

Here's an anecdote: YF and I, two years ago, went to the Sox/Yanks in Fenway. I was using a digital camera to video a snippet of the game, when Manny was at bat. Manny hit a MONSTER over the monster. While videoing, I basically tried following the ball; my instinct was to track the home run. I reframed the shot back to include, more centrally, Manny, but at this point he was circling the bases. That was the natural thing: to watch the baseball.

For me the moment at which point the player becomes the spectacle is the moment when the home run trot becomes the central focus of the stadium, and this is where I think fans may offer legitimate gripes about hitters showing up pitchers, calling attention to themselves in unnecessary ways.

I don't mean to suggest that Manny is dumb, or really fall in line with the Manny being Manny argument. I simply mean that I don't think Manny sees this the same way as you all do. Also, Manny is pretty universally liked among the players and I think the players know he's not doing it to show them up.

Caveat, as Andrew mentions above: watching balls that aren't CLEARLY out of the park is a violation of fundamentals, and isn't excusable. That said, when Manny hits one 475 feet over the Coke bottle I coudn't give two shits about whether he watches the ball or runs hard, my eyes are averted from him.

RE: Manny watching shots that stay in the park...

This is seriously overblown, partially because it's happened twice this season already, but frankly, it almost never happens, maybe 2-3 times a year, unfortunately he's already near his quota this year. This isn't a big problem, so the argument that he really hurts the team with this is pretty weak.

99% of the time, he knows.

When Manny watches a ball that ends up not being a home run, I'm angry. It pisses me off, even if it's kinda funny to see the look on his face when he realizes it's not a homerun (yesterday was a classic example). However, when it's a tremendous homerun, the kind where everyone in the park knows it's not coming back (like his ALDS walk-off), I don't mind. I like it. It reminds me of the youthful joy I used to feel when I played baseball as a kid.

SF: An intentionally slow base-circling is, basically, a high crime, insofar as it is designed to show up the other team. Every player has a pace at which they round the bases, and I think, with guys who homer frequently, there's a general sense of what that is, and, it's clear when they're taking their time beyond what might be considered reasonable. (Or maybe it's not always clear, anyway, there's a line there, even if blurred.)

I think your distinction, however, is false, if interesting to ponder. The assumption is that the action is designed or should be determined by the audience in the stands, when in fact the larger audience is on TV, and I think, these days, everyone is aware of that. I'd also suggest your analysis is colored by the fact that you typically sit up the first base line, where you are forced to turn your head from the batter to track the ball. Fans sitting behind home plate and in the outfield bleachers don't have to do that. The ball and batter are both in the field of vision.


The main reason I hate when Papelbon does it is because he plays for the other team. Both he and Joba could stand to tone it down some, however.

Watching homeruns is much more annoying and disrespectful as far as I'm concerned, whether it be Manny, ARod, or whoever.

YF:

I sat in the bleachers a TON growing up. I really don't ever recall watching the batter once the ball left the bat, ever, particularly not at Fenway with something like the Green Monster. The perspective from the bleachers is such that any shot towards left field is intensely focused on, such are the idiosyncratic results that the wall offers on many occasions: rocket blasts that are singles, popups that are dingers. In Fenway, from the bleachers (from anywhere, frankly), it is unwise to NOT watch the ball as it heads out towards the outfield. I think you are wrong about this -- with regards to Fenway especially.

no rankling here sf, i see your point about manny's act not actually being seen [kind of like the tree falling in the forest not being heard, i guess] by folks who would naturally follow the flight of the ball, i just don't happen to agree with the point of view that it's not a negative...now, having said that, lockland's point is a good one, that maybe manny doesn't even realize it, that it's as innocent as joba or paps...we all know manny's still got a lot of "little kid" in him which is refreshing at times, even as the "manny being manny" defense can wear on you...but, maybe someone should whisper in his ear [like his captain] that after all these years and homeruns, celebrating each one like it's your first is a bit much...

i also agree with lockland's point that there was a double standard [me included] about the paps fist pump...but, if i'm honest, like paul, i like it when joba doesn't, not so much when paps does it...

The thing that seems to annoy me about Joba's fist-pump is that it happens at unusual times. He struck someone out to end the 8th inning last year in a game where the Yankees were ahead by 5 runs. No one was on base, it wasn't a crucial situation.

Having said that, I agree that emotion is good. As Paul said above, it's good to see that one of your favorite players is feeling the same way you are at that moment. I like players with emotion far more than I like dull players, and I mostly dislike Joba's because he plays for the Yankees.

I also think we can all agree that K-Rod is worse than both Papelbon and Joba, because he does it after blowing saves too. That's just silly.

(but I acknowledge the televisual complexity of thie issue, as you state - I did, to an extent, earlier).

Instinct, however, trumps, at least to me. One wants to watch the ball, particularly when one CRUSHES the ball. I find that actually quite natural, not exhibitionist. Once the ball exits the stadium, though, RUN.

I would say though, at least Manny have some accountability (not that that I support it) - if the pitcher really felt like he was shown up, there can be a HBP coming..

Though it's also possible that whoever bats after Manny might get hit a few times more than he should..

Atheose,
That might've been his ML debut, in which case you can hardly begrudge him, no?

I don't agree with the "natural" statement - there are a list of things that are "natural" but as people we are better than that.

This might or might not apply to the debate, but I'm just pointing out the flaw in the "natural" argument.

I can't remember for sure, yankeemonkey, but I don't think it was his debut. In any case, like I said I'm happy to see emotion in players. The only reason I dislike it in Joba is because he's a Yankee.

Fair enough, SF. It's a dynamic thing, though, where the eye goes. You watch the ball. Glance back toward the plate. (Is he still there?) Watch the replay on the DiamondVision and then again ad nauseum on the highlight shows.

As you know, I've got no malice toward Manny. Love watching him play. Just don't like watching the home runs against the Yanks.

"...Once the ball exits the stadium, though, RUN...."

sf, are you really saying that manny can't run and watch at the same time?...i'd bet every hr is over the fence long before the batter reaches first base, so there's no danger of tripping over a bag or anything...so i'm just not sure why he can't watch it as he trots down to first...

Pisses me off when Paps violently pumps his fist multiple times, towards home plate, when he gets, like, a groundball to end an easy inning. I'm pretty sure Joba only wheels around, looks at all his teammates behind him, and fist-pumps, when he strikes out a guy to end the inning. Granted, that tends to happen a lot.

It comes down to which team they're on, I'd say. Seems to be the community consensus too.

seriously, man?

One guy is the best closer in the game, the other closes out the eigth innings before the closer comes in.
They're both happy they're good at what they do. There is no difference whatsoever. If you flaunt it, you flaunt it. No matter if you're looking at Derek Jeter (which isn't the case) or you're staring at the box. Either way, you're gloating.

"he just spins and.." I don't even know what to say to this.

"Granted, that tends to happen a lot".

Yep. Nearly twenty or so times now.

Check that.
19
I forgot about that Cleveland game.

On another note, I think it's awesome that both of these guys do this. It's another indication that the talent comes from a younger generation, and both teams have a lot to look forward to with each of them (provided they can stay healthy).
To me, I love to watch Ryan Howard and Manny stare down their 500foot shots. I love to watch Pap stare down a guy like Todd Helton when he just made him look rediculous by sitting him down with a eye-level fastball in the world series.

It brings excitement to the game, I think.

I'd like to see more fist pumps.. like after every pitch. /sarcasm

Honestly though, if you think any of paps, manny's or joba's actions have been effrontery in any way consider this: any game you play has some bit of trash talking or over excitement involved. That's all a part of gamesmanship. There are some who play the game within themselves and only look at the base ahead of them when jogging around the bases. Some pause to capture the moment after hitting the ball really well. Others get in your face. So what? Are we afraid the players are gonna get their feelings hurt when they get shown up? Let the players play and do whatever has made them successful so far.

AndrewYF - Come on man! You can't be serious? Nitpick much? For what it's worth, it always looks like it's a combined celebration between Paps and Tek, kind of like, "nice pitch selection Tek, way to throw it Paps!"

Regardless, it's silly to try and differentiate between the two.

Papelbon finished his save by jumping off to the first-base side of the mound, pumping his fist quickly, and then slamming it into his glove. The only person he actually looked at was when he turned back to the plate to shake hands with Tek, who was by then halfway to the mound. I don't see Andrew's point here -- at all.

I forget now exactly what series it was, but Fox did a split screen showing one of Manny's controversial playoff stares (perhaps as part of that back-to-back-to-back in Game 4?), and then showing the trot of a Cleveland hitter during their next home run. It was pretty clear the Cleveland hitter had taken offense to Manny's staring because he ran verrrrrry slowly around the bases -- Manny actually touched home faster than the Cleveland hitter did, despite the stand-and-stare. My reaction (and of course I'm biased here) was that the Indians' batter was engaging in a far worse display of trash-"talking" than Manny.

It was Victor Martinez. In the side-by-side shot of their home run "trots" (starting at the same moment when they hit the ball)...V-Mart steps on home plate at the same time as Manny is hugging teammates in the dugout. Both were when the home-run hitter's team was behind by several runs (four or three, respectively).

I didn't notice this 'til just now, but Abraham and Kepner have Thomas with different ages. Looks like Kepner had it right. Thomas doesn't turn 40 until May...

Was the VMart case intentional? Just wondering because that guy is really slow, but I didn't watch the game or the replays..

I think it was intentional "retaliation" for the Manny homer the game before.

Then, later that week, Manny retaliated yet again to VM by taking the victory and heading off to the world series. hahaha.

Sometimes at work I will draw a fantastic polyline, or fillet two rays, or, even, draw a really good waterproofing detail, at which point I stand up, put my arms in the air, and let the entire office know exactly how special I am.

It usually goes over rather well. On occasion a piece of chalk or a pen will come flying right at my head soon after. I do get it.

Personally, I'd like to see more celebrations in baseball. I never did understand why other major sports have celebratory dances but MLB didn't.

Someone like a MLB version of Chad Johnson would be great. Papelbon doing the River Dance after a strikeout would be hilarious.

My guess is that there's a tradition of self-regulation (by getting beaned) more than in other sports. I guess that's slowly changing, and you might get what you want. Still though, in a game that's already taking 4+ hours a game, I can do without certain dances.. more than the showing off issue..

I don't mind a Pap fist pump, but when he does that thing where it looks like he's jacking off ... well, I wish he would save that for his hotel room.

Interesting that announcers recoil in horror when batters pose, but rarely mention pitcher displays.

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