The problem with enforcing the unwritten rules: 2013 NLCS edition


A baseball team has a problem with the way another baseball team is celebrating. So what’s new?

This time the two parties involved are the Cardinals and the Dodgers, and it just so happens to all be magnified because it’s gone down in the NLCS.

So what’s the beef?

Well Adam Wainwright took exception to Adrian Gonzalez‘s celebrating, calling it ‘Mickey Mouse’:

Wainwright, if you remember, blamed white towels as the reason for Matt Holliday taking a James Loney fliner off the dick back in the 2009 NLDS, so he has a history of complaining about completely asinine crap. Also worth mentioning that the Cardinals hand out the same white towels at home now during the playoffs, which makes all this even better.

But of course the complaints didn’t stop with A-Gon, as Carlos Beltran took issue with Yasiel Puig.

“As a player, he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know. I think he doesn’t know,” Beltran said. “He still thinks he’s playing somewhere else, I don’t know. He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that. Great ability, great talent, and I think with time he will learn that you have to sometimes act a little bit more calm. Not only with trying to show up other teams, [but also], like, umpires. It’s going to take him time, but he’s going to learn.

“When you try to do those things, you get attention. You don’t want to wake up nobody. I always say that if you hit a homer off a pitcher, you have to make him believe that he made a mistake. You don’t wake him up, because next time the pitcher is going to be more focused with you and is going to try to get you out, try to be more aggressive. As a player, he will learn. I don’t think he’s a bad kid, I just think he doesn’t know right now.”

In my opinion, Puig’s greatest offense wasn’t his celebration, but the fact that he allowed Beltran’s horrid misplay on his triple to not be a potential inside-the-park homer. Naturally, Beltran didn’t see it that way, because it’s of the utmost importance to police the opposing team’s screwups.

So that’s basically the issue at hand and it’s naturally being pumped up by the media for maximum pageviews and handwringing.


To the credit of A-Gon and Puig, though, they basically don’t care.

“We are in LA. Mickey Mouse is only an hour away,” Gonzalez said, laughing. “It fits us. I did what I always do.”


Miami Marlins v Los Angeles Dodgers

Puig was amused at the spectacle. “We’re the playoffs,” he said in Spanish, then after it was translated Puig added in English, “Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs!”

And thank goodness they don’t care, because I honestly don’t get the logic behind any of this crap.


1. Sports are entertainment. Why is everybody so mad all the time?

Players, media, fans … basically everybody but bloggers.

I make this point all the time, but sports is entertainment, and if you take it that way you stop being so offended over things as silly as celebrating. And honestly, I think you stop taking stuff that goes on within that arena so personally, in general. Besides, if you’re going to get mad about something, do it over something worthwhile, like pointless beanball wars and brawls, not guys having fun.

I just have trouble with understanding the logic and reasoning of people who look to sports as some kind of moral compass for how we as a society and culture should act. If you’re relying on sports for that, then it seems to me there are more pressing issues with your life and decision making than why some dude on TV is happy and you’re not.

2. If you’re gonna talk the talk and concern troll others then you better walk the walk.

Why do all the concern trolls end up doing similar stuff themselves but thinking their shit doesn’t stink?

- Joe Kelly fist pump, screams, and turns to scream at Puig … in the first frame of the SERIES.

- Beltran doing a similar celebration as A-Gon that gets cut short by TV.

- Carlos Martinez bouncing off the mound, pounding his glove a bunch, and praising his deity.

- Yadier Molina screaming after an out, pumping his fist, and pounding the dirt.

- Cardinals celebrating like they won the World Series, complete with Gatorade bath and fireworks … after winning Game 1.

- Matt Carpenter leading off Game 2 with a triple then fist pumping, screaming, and clapping towards his dugout.

- Michael Wacha bounding off the mound, half-fist pump, and skips all the way to dugout.

Where’s the fun police on all this? And it doesn’t even count the “typical” reactions of screaming and clapping and Yadi fist pumps basically every inning. You don’t see A.J. Ellis doing that, so should I whine or something? That’s how it works, right?


Do I think there’s anything wrong with the stuff pictured above? Nah. I never even came close to complaining about any of it while it happened either. But the point is that if the Cardinals are gonna high-horse and lord over everybody, then they better act up to their lofty standards themselves or enforce it on their own teammates to start.

3. So where exactly is the line between offensive/over the top and gritty/gamery? You tell me. No, really … tell me.

If that’s not the case, and what the Cardinals do is somehow different than what Puig and A-Gon did, then what are the guidelines exactly? Either spell it out or stop whining.

His flair comes through mainly in his tendency to celebrate hits like his triple Monday with the kind of outward jubilation that the American baseball establishment frowns on.

In many Latin American countries, Puig’s antics would hardly separate him from his peers. “In Cuba, you always see a lot of emotion on the field,” Puig said through an interpreter. In the United States, that kind of emotion generates grumpy, passive-aggressive responses like the one Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had when asked about Puig’s reaction to the triple. “Guys are going to handle successes and failures however they’re going to handle them,” Matheny said.

The game would be better off if more players handled success like Puig, or at the very least, felt like they were free to do so. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be entertaining. Somewhere along the line, U.S. baseball players became the most sensitive athletes in all of sports. Clap once after a hit, and they’ll tolerate it. Clap twice, and you’re showing them up, an offense punishable by a fastball off your leg the next time you come to the plate.

Exactly. It’s an arbitrary, constantly moving line and completely pointless.


So where do I stand on it? The whole thing is relatively simple to me.

Taunting usually directly incites fighting/violence, which is something the sport should try to avoid. Of course, reacting to taunting with violence is illogical in itself, but not everybody is Brandon McCarthy:

Regardless, that’s just my two cents. And as McCarthy, Kevin Towers, and Miguel Montero have shown, people can’t even agree on team-wide guidelines, much less league-wide ones. Others will have different limits, and I understand that. But that’s the point, it’s all subjective and I just can’t see the reason behind getting so flustered over what somebody else does in regards to their own interests.

Personally, I tend to internalize my struggles and look in the mirror for faults first, though I’m aware that others apparently dedicate their lives to meddling in the business of others because it helps distract them from their own personal failings. After all, it’s much easier to blame the happy dude for being happy than face the reality that you’ve come up short due to your own faults. To me, that says far more about them than it does the person having fun, and it ironically paints a picture of an insecure and immature individual who can’t handle another person’s joy.

In other words, baseball’s unwritten rules in a nutshell.

About Chad Moriyama