Walk-off = turn-off
People who know me, and I know a bunch, learn I cheer for the Baltimore Orioles.
And root against the New York Yankees.
Turning my back on a team from our home state doesn’t seem right. But George Steinbrenner’s circus style and exorbitant spending never seemed right, either. So I decided against allegiance to pinstripes during the early 1970s. And besides, we Rochesterians rooted for Baltimore because the Orioles’ Triple A farm team played in our city.
That said, I’ve got to hand it to the Yanks for pulling off three straight come-from-behind wins last weekend. Good baseball teams deliver in the clutch.
My problem is walk-off celebrations. When Johnny Damon hit a game-winning homer Sunday to beat Minnesota in the 10th inning, his teammates stormed out of the dugout for the now-expected group hug, twist, shout, jump and celebration at home plate. Damon tossed his batting helmet as he approached home plate — that’s also expected — to eliminate chances of fists and hands rattling his brain.
To me, these mob scenes at major league parks seem out of place. High school and college baseball teams, fine. Guys in softball beer leagues, great. But professionals should act like pros, at least during the regular season, when they’re doing their jobs. A game-winning home run means beers in the clubhouse and smiles all around, but can’t you keep the party in the dugout? Show a little restraint? Act like you’ve won a baseball game before?
Look at it another way: The only time all the guys should be on the field at the same time is for a bench-clearing brawl.
For a gamer in the bottom of the ninth, let the people in the stands go a little nuts. Let them cheer for a curtain call and then go home happy. I hate to see Yankees, Orioles, Blue Jays, Pirates, Dodgers or anybody acting like 15-year-olds on a major league diamond. They call them big leagues for a reason.
I’ll bet I’m in the minority here. But it’s a shame major league sports are taking more and more cues from World Wrestling Entertainment. Pitchers showing off batters is becoming more and more common, with the scowls, yells and fist-pumps that accompany a strike-out or third out. In a different season, college basketball teams are dripping more and more “attitude,” with these extended introductions of teams with big sounds and no lights — except for the spotlight on the team. Not for me.
Maybe I’m just getting older and suffer fools less gladly. When I was in high school during the early 1970s, watching the National Football League, a lot of people were griping about the latest trend — receivers spiking the ball into the field after a touchdown reception. That didn’t bother me; it was a quick, explosive expression. Now, everyone gets into the act. A good defensive or offensive play means somebody get the chance to showboat.
Just play the game. Save the hysterics for the World Series. Or the Royal Rumble.