June 27, 2012

Chapmans’ flip just silly, not shameful

By now most every knows about Aroldis Chapman’s victorious somersaults after his save last night (if you haven’t seen it yet, there’s video here). It’s been one of the more interesting things to happen this season, and there’s been a consummate amount of discussion about it.

A vocal minority have got their feathers all ruffled, concerned that he could have hurt himself (toddlers manage to do somersaults without hurting themselves), he’s showing up the other team (showing up the Brewers?), or he’s breaking the unwritten rules of baseball (there’s a reason they’re not written down).

But the majority of the commentary I’m seeing is saying things like:

  • How is this different than fireworks, fist pumps, or jumping on the plate after a walk-off homer?
  • In any other sport, this would be the mildest of celebrations. Maybe baseball should take a deep breath here.
  • Why does a double forward roll after a save get Chapman a severe talking to, but a backflip gets Ozzie Smith a Pepsi commercial? (That one was just me, but I thought it was a good enough line to use again.)

Even the Brewers don’t seem to much care, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see a retribution HBP this afternoon. And that’s OK, too: all the guys in the line-up are grown-ass men. They can take a fastball to the haunch and live to tell the tale.

While I’m firmly in the stuff-like-this-makes-baseball-human-and-fun camp, I’ll admit that I was a little embarrassed on Chapman’s behalf when I saw that tumbling run. Not only did it bring to mind a pre-schooler yelling “look at what I can do!” but somersaults just aren’t sexy moves. It’s all butt in the air, ending up in the dirt. Someone needs to teach this guy a good round-off.

On the other hand, if the move was inspired by Carlos Gomez’s somersaults last year, that makes Chapman’s choice of acrobatics at least make a little more sense:

What does seriously concern me is the “talking to” that Chapman received after the game. Different sources have said that at least Bryan Price, Jay Bruce, and Joey Votto gave him an earful, and I don’t know what they said, but it left Chapman crushed and unable to even speak to reporters about it. It completely robbed him of the joy of his excellent performance.

This surprises me. Dusty Baker has many, many, many faults, but he is universally known as a player’s manager. To let Chapman be shamed like this is unnecessary, and it’s terrible management. This didn’t have to be traumatic to be a learning opportunity. If I were Chapman, I might never smile again if my team treated me like that. At least, not till I was traded, and I’d rather not see that happen to Chapman.

If it were me, I’d just tell Chapman, “hey, maybe try something a little more dignified next time” and see about getting this song on the play list for some time during today’s game.

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