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Walk-off = turn-off

By Jeff Wilkin
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
| 10 comments

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.

 

comments

May 19, 2009
6:10 p.m.

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BillP says...

There's a reason why I don't watch Major League Baseball and why I look forward to the Little League World Series every year. It's called emotion and passion.

I think it's great to see more major leaguers enjoying the game.

Bill

May 20, 2009
9:56 a.m.

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fotogirl30 says...

I agree with Bill, watching a team not show any emotion makes people start thinking that the players are snobs. Playing baseball is not only their job, but their life. Wouldn't you be happy too after a losing streak like they had. I do believe the Yankees are entitled to some celebration after winning 7 games in a row. After all, every game they win brings them closer to the play-offs and the world series where they belong. It sounds to me like your a little sour at the yanks for beating your team 9-1.

May 20, 2009
10:16 a.m.

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realmac says...

You are in the minority, showing emotion for the good and not temper-tantrums or swearing or throwing things is certainly worth watching and enjoying and sets a much better example. For the record, I loved the pie in the face, too! Perhaps that positive show excitement has kept them on their winning streak.

May 20, 2009
10:53 a.m.

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socalbob says...

i don't have a problem with the last at bat victory celebration what i do have a problem with, is the term walk-off.from the first time i heard it, it turns my stomach.

May 20, 2009
11:02 a.m.

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jwilkin says...

Many thanks for the opinions. I guess I'm more old school when it comes to the pros, especially baseball ... I vividly remember as a 13-year-old watching Denny McClain win his 31st game, and that celebration stayed in the dugout. Still think these walk-off parties are just a way to rub the noses of the other team into the dirt. And is it really good sportsmanship for a pitcher, like that Yankee kid, "Joba," to be pumping fists and screaming like a madman when he gets a big out? Not sure Denny ever did that! But thanks for offering the opinions.

May 20, 2009
1:13 p.m.

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jwilkin says...

And at least the Yankees did not end last night's game against my poor Orioles with a ninth-inning homer ... they waited until the seventh inning, and kind of breezed after that .....

May 21, 2009
12:42 a.m.

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Johnny says...

Jeff,

I grew up in Buffalo, but as I like to say, "became a man in Rochester, as I lived there from age 18-31. I used to get the 15 ticket book and went to many a game at Silver Stadium and the new Frontier Field. Of course, Frontier Field is nicer, but I'll take old Silver Stadium any time; that place had character.

I lived in Baltimore for two years, and it is a shame how far they've fallen. Mark Belanger was my favorite Oriole. Sure, he couldn't hit, but he was the smoothest fielder around. The Oriole Way was well regarded and from 1966-1985, there wasn't a better run organization from top to bottom than the Birds.

I even met Wild Bill Hagy in 1999 at a Maryland Terrapin game. Good stuff.

May 21, 2009
11:15 a.m.

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jwilkin says...

John: Thanks for the info. Glad to have attracted some former Rochester Red Wings fans ... spent many a summer night at Silver Stadium, and hated to see it go. Also hated to see the Twins move in ... I guess that's progress ....too bad the Orioles are in decline ... some glimmers of hope, as some of the stars are locked in for long contracts, but all that losing, losing and losing has got to erode the fan base! After two straight drubbings to NY, not sure if I can bear to watch tonight!

May 22, 2009
3:08 p.m.

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Johnny says...

I hope you didn't watch again last night! But, it is good to see "Baltimore" scripted on the road uniforms again, ala 1969!

May 26, 2009
10:52 a.m.

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jwilkin says...

Yes the uniforms do look classy .... just about everyone's does these days .... although I'm still not sure I prefer the "natural" oriole over the "cartoon" bird on the cap. Was thinking how lousy the "M" on the Twins' road hat looks ... they use the old "TC" logo on the batting helmets ....

 

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