Yasiel Puig and Bryce Harper: Two Pimps in a Pod

I suppose you’ve all heard by now about Bryce Harper calling baseball – his very bread and butter – “tired”. As the ESPN Magazine article that started it all, pointed out, Mr. Harper wants to become the Most Interesting Man in Baseball. He wants to be a big pimp daddy in a game that was once played on green meadows in the park, on Sundays.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a wild horse who I’m pretty sure agrees with Harper and his views on ramping up the game with a bit of flash – Yasiel Puig. Whether you’re a fan of players pimping their action on the field or not, you’ve got to admit Puig and Harper are among the game’s most exciting players to watch. Part of that excitement is rooted in their on-field, spontaneous celebrations for plays well done.

I agree with Harper that players should pimp home runs or awesome put outs. It’s a new century, and for all the pitching clocks and in-game hosts that baseball adds in feeble attempts to bring excitement to the game, they should just listen to their players – the ones who have always provided the excitement.

Look around and you’ll see splashes of player pimping all around the leagues. Bat flips are becoming more common with every season. Plenty of fans (I suspect the demographic skews younger) love it. The most popular baseball card in 2016 Topps features a flip from Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Joey-Bautista-bat-flip-baseball-card-2016-Topps-Series-1

On the other hand, Harper wants to poo-poo the unwritten rules of “Pimp a homer, eat dirt the next time up”. He wants to joyfully point at the pitcher, or the wall, or his bench after a big hit, but he doesn’t want the pitcher coming back at him with a fastball in the buttocks.

I’m never for players getting thrown at, but the old-school pitchers who will drill you for pimping at the plate won’t listen to me or Harper on that one. They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do.

Yasiel Puig has had an ongoing feud with the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who is one of those guys who doesn’t take too kindly to showy batters. Back in 2014 Puig bat-flipped after a home run he hit off of Bumgarner at Dodger Stadium, and it’s been war ever since. Such is the danger of letting your pimp flag fly.

But I say, “Pimp on, Puig.”

The game should evolve and the players should celebrate their accomplishments in the moment of triumph. Sure, there’s a line between sharing the drama with the crowd and rubbing your opponent’s face in it. I trust as pimping grows around the game, the players will sort out and define where that line lies.

Puig is having a pretty good spring so far. He’s batting .375 with 3 hits and 3 RBIs. He hasn’t found his home run groove yet, but I’m looking for him to get hotter as ST goes forward, and to have a breakout year. He’s certainly due for one, and the signs are showing that it might be now. I’m looking for Yasiel to be the Dodgers’ pimp of 2016.

Until baseball stepped in and said no, Puig was planning to buy a helicopter and fly into Chavez Ravine for games.  If that aint pimp, I don’t know what the heck is.

 

Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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78 thoughts on “Yasiel Puig and Bryce Harper: Two Pimps in a Pod

  1. Ok Oscar, I iike this, I am all about pimping the game…..some old timers here aren’t going to like it though, probably the same ones that bash Puig.

    I love Puig and hope he breaks out this year too, bat flips and helicopters and all.

    Go Dodgers.

  2. I am fine with bat flips and celebrations. Shoot, I am even fine with flying in on a helicopter. Brice Harper produces and if Puig produces he can flip that bat right up Mad’s Bum! But, if you talk the talk – you have to walk the walk!

    Let’s spice up the game. The average person watching baseball right about now is 54 years old.

    1. If he is going to fly in on a helicopter he should go all in. I can see him now repelling down from a helicopter hovering over the pitchers mound in full uniform just after the rest of the players have dressed and gone out on the field. That would make a grand entrance.

  3. It doesn’t bother me if Puig does it, unless it isn’t a HR. He looks foolish, when he does this, and it isn’t a HR. I thought Puig has been hitting well, because he was hitting more balls up the middle, and the right side. But today, he was pulling the ball again, and hit into a double play, and another out. It might be because the two kids hit HRs this last couple of days. Puig lets his emotions, get the best of him sometimes, and looks immature. Like him pulling the ball, on his first two at bats today, because he had to hit a HR too.

  4. I’ve never understood this logic: the flair of bat flipping is entertaining but chin music isn’t? Maybe to some fans that is also entertainment. But one is hyped the other is frowned upon. Strange.
    .
    But my entertainment is similar to the symphony or the ballet. It requires a level of precision and exactness that mesmorizes me. Baseball is beautiful when played with that level of precision. The choreography is akin to the Bolshoi. It’s a shame that “pimping” has reduced the Bolshoi of baseball to at times a 5th grade recital. But all things must change. Hopefully Puig doesn’t fall off the stage.

    1. Yes, throwing at someone is frowned upon because it involves physically hurting someone. A bat flip isn’t hurting anything other than maybe someone’s ego if they are overly sensitive. That’s the difference. I’m not so sure what’s strange about that.

    2. The symphony has loud, deep baritones and dramatic notes. That’s what the big bombs and put outs at third from a long throw in right field are. That’s precision as well.

      I’m not against chin music. It has its place in the game. The game will always have some pitchers respond like that. As I said, the game will evolve to what the players find acceptable celebration and excessive showboating.

      Pimping will find a place, and if it gets a few more people interested in the ballet, but the essence of the ballet remains, I think it’s a good thing

  5. A few thoughts come to mind. First, if it’s spontaneous I have no problem with it. Excess “look at me” celebrations I’ve always had a problem with. Celebrations like Fisk’s home run, and Gibson’s home run, game winners, are stuff of legend. Bat flipping on a meaningless home run just makes you look like an idiot. You want to be remembered as an idiot – flip away.

    The average age of MLB ticket buyers is 54? I believe it. They can afford a $212 FCI. That also means the men playing this game are our kids age and younger. Even though the average player makes $25,000 a night, they are very young. Young people act differently than old people. It’s their choice how they behave. From bat flip to throwing at ribs (never, NEVER, at the head) let them express themselves. The important ones we will all remember. The others should be quickly forgotten.

    Also, there are rules in place to deal with deliberately throwing at somebody. If you don’t like bat flips, don’t throw gopher balls. If somebody flips a bat on you, hit one out and flip a bat on them. Bottom line? Scoreboard.

  6. I think we all would love it, if Puig hit a couple of HRs off Bumgarner this year, and flipped the bat, anyway he wants. Bumgarner needs to be put into his place. He is terrible about shouting at anyone not from the U.S.

    1. I’ve heard Bumgarner singles out players like that. I haven’t checked all the stories to see how true it is.
      I would love a Puig homer off of him to start off the season right.

  7. I am old enough to remember when Dizzy Dean was announcing baseball games — He could say when a pitcher threw a close pitch to a batters face — that they threw a Gillette. That is a pitch close to the face like a Gillette shave gave a man.

    In those days, Gillette was the sponsor at many games on TV and I guess radio. I have some little red color book that had a catcher giving the signals to a pitcher and you would thumb through the images as they played like a video in your hands looking at the catcher giving the signals.

    The book was called: Signals . . . The Secret Language of Baseball in FINGER-TIP MOVIES, Featuring Paul Richards in a Gillette Exclusive. (1957)

    http://www.rksportspromotions.com/content/1957-gillette-baseball-flip-book

    AbeBooks.com has a copy for $75 . . .

    http://www.abebooks.com/Signals-Secret-Language-Baseball-Finger-tip-Movies/146078652/bd

    http://keymancollectibles.com/publications/1957Gilletteflipbook.htm

    Back in the 50s and 60s — players expected close pitches, up and in. Happened much more then than now. And no hard hat batting helmets.

      1. If I were to take a multiple answer quiz I would have picked B — Maglie was known as the Barber because he never shaved before a game and he used to cut hair in the off-season.

        1. Maglie claims that New York Daily News baseball reporter Jim McCulley gave him this nickname as a tribute to the way Maglie would “shave the batters” chins by throwing high-and-tight. Giant pitching coach Frank Shellenback is also credited with having giving him the nickname because of the way Maglie shaved the corners. There is also the claim that Giant manager Leo Durocher gave him the nickname because Maglie supposedly resembled the barber in the third chair at the hotel where the players stayed.

  8. All for the on-field celebrations , but if the hitters want to be able to bat flip without the fear of a brush back pitch (or two), then they can’t get all out of whack when the pitcher does a big ol’ arm pump and glare when they make the hitter look foolish on a great third strike pitch. We don’t need fights breaking out and denigrating the game in the name of looking “pimp”.

    1. Agreed on no need to fight about that stuff. It’s a fine line, right?
      I don’t think things will turn into end zone celebrations, but it would be wise for the guys who want to pimp to recognize there are times (and moody pitchers) where it’s not smart to do too much.

  9. That reminds me a little of a Craig Calceterra take….without the self-regarding smarminess. Thanks for that…I can’t stand that dude.

    However, though I get your point – and there’s validity to it – here’s where you’re wrong:

    I think the game can and should evolve, and the sabre phenomenon shows us that there are some ossified ways of approaching the game that are due for a some evolution, but there are also some of what we would call traditions that have taken generations to become established, and have an inherently rational reason for existence. What these “unwritten rules” are is a means of codifying behavior that shows a certain level of respect for your opponent and keeps potential conflict in check. We have unwritten rules everywhere in life. They’re called manners. You wouldn’t audibly fart in a crowded elevator, for example.

    Take the NFL and the NBA. They’ve actually gone in the other direction. The NBA has never had unwritten rules that governed behavior or decorum, and it is more closely tied to and has tried to tap into popular culture. The NBA had a serious issues in the 90s and early 2000s with brawls, especially in playoff time, and it was becoming an ugly game. Now, there are strict rules against taunting. You say something to another player after a dunk, you get a technical. They had to do that to take control of a game that was at risk of spiraling out or control.

    The NFL used to allow much more elaborate end zone celebrations. Now, a player gets flagged if he does anything more than spike the ball. Baseball doesn’t need to add rules to control taunting because those rules are already in place, have been for a hundred years, and are agreed upon and enforced by the players themselves. It’s actually not a bad system.

    Personally, I didn’t mind the Bautista flip. It was a key moment in a key game and wasn’t directed really at the other team. However, if you allow decorum and “manners” to slip, you get more taunting, more disrespect, more brawls and, generally, an uglier game. …..like this..

    Baseball is beautiful game I think, in part, because of its self-respect for it’s roots, for its history and its culture.

    1. Yeah, that whole scene was embarrassing for the game. Gomez pimping in the first inning? Why say anything to him? He’s an idiot. Just file it away and take care of it later. And for what it’s worth, if I’m the home plate ump, I toss McCann too.

      1. That was Gomez being Gomez. That is a natural part of his personality. I agree Badger. Just let him be himself. If that is his preferred way to play the game why should he have to play it according to someone else’s preference. McCann blocked Gomez’ path to home plate. He should have been kicked out. Freeman was trying to force Gomez to play the way Freeman wants to play the game.
        .
        Gomez got the crowd into the game. Maybe Freeman did as well. McCann just got in the way of the game.

        1. No. Absolutely not. If Carlos Gomez was is to spit in the first baseman’s face as he rounds first, do you let Carlos be Carlos? Is there any limit to a player’s individual free expression? …at all? There has to be a certain level of professional courtesy and respect for your opponent. You don’t taunt your opponent. That’s not hard to understand.

          How would you want to teach your eight year-old son to play the game? Do you want him to deliberately “pimp”, trash talk, taunt or disrespect the other team and the other players? It is a code of conduct based on professional courtesy and mutual respect. In this day and age….especially with what we see now politics, we need to preserve that as much as we can…especially in a sport rooted in our history.

    2. Your right Dodgerpatch about being closely tied to different cultures. In Cuba, and the other Latin countries, they play baseball, in a different way. They have bands in the stadiums, and that is why a lot of players, from the Latin countries come to play American baseball, and don’t understand the quote American way, of playing baseball. They are not trying to be jerks, they are playing baseball, the way it is celebrated in there countries. And in Japan, there is still another way of playing baseball, and celebrating baseball. Maeda has a special way he likes to warm up, before he pitches, and he will not be allowed to do this on the field before games, in the U.S.. I don’t understand why he can’t do this. It would just rev up the crowd, and the crowd would get into it, with him. He will have to do this in the dugout, or in the club house, before games, for some reason. I don’t get why, and I didn’t understand why the bubble machine, was a problem either. Isn’t there better things to worry about?

        1. He kinds of windmills his arms, and in fact, they call it a dance, but I can’t remember the name. Roberts made him perform it, in front of the team, this last week. You can find it on video. I saw the video when he was first signed.

          1. Its funny that Maeda can do his “dance” in Japan but if the umpire calls a ball that bounces a foot in front of home plate a strike the hitter has to say thank you.

        2. Well, If I was McCann and had a possible fine and suspension hanging over my head for confronting someone acting out on the field, I at least would have gotten my money’s worth and broken his jaw.

          See how that works? Wherever it is you work…or in your blog writing environment, if colleague got in your face and began cursing at you, you might just react…maybe even push or shove…maybe throw a punch. ……It’s probably better if people just do their jobs without spending energy trying to humiliate, shame or disrespect the people they work with. It tends to create hard feelings and leads to confrontation. Professional baseball players figured this out a long time ago,

    3. To be fair, that brawl wouldn’t have happened if McCann hadn’t gotten in Gomez’s face. If anything that video proves that the players self-policing the “unwritten rules” is dangerous and should be stopped.

      The problem with the unwritten rules is that they are not written. What that means is that there will always be a disagreement about what those rules are and what they should be. The same holds true for manners actually. Some people don’t care that they use a salad fork for their main dish while there are probably people out there that are appalled at that. What would you think if Miss Manners all of sudden started chucking knives at people if they held their soup spoon wrong. The problem is that when there are some rules that one person believes is not a big deal and another thinks is unforgivable there will always be the potential for conflict. And when players are out there self-policing rules that not everybody is in agreement on… well that’s a dangerous situation that can lead to injury.

  10. Good work Oscar – new and fresh topic…I go along with Badger, partly because I’m a traditionalist and mainly stubborn…
    It’s set… Joc to start in CF… Early edict and here’s hoping…
    Urias’s 8th… That was yesterday…The kid is going to be alright… I wish the comparisons to Fernando would stop because I think it will a long time before we see a Fernandomania type start from anyone…
    Split squad today… A lot of stats to look at late tonight.

    1. Pending something that might alter the plan for Pederson to not only start but to be on the active roster come opening day, it looks like Badger owes me some pushups 🙂

  11. Dodgers play split squad games today, at 6pm and 630pm. Amazingly, both are scheduled to be on mlb.tv!!

    Now, if you’ll all excuse me; I need to do a quick workout and do a turnaround trip to Vegas so I can watch my Fresno St Bulldogs play SDSU with the Big Dance on the line!!!!!

  12. Pitchers like Bob Gibson and I am sure there have been many others would throw at a hitter that got a base hit in their previous at bat just to intimidate them. No bat flip was needed, no celebration, no high-five with the first base coach, not even a smile on their face was needed for Gibson to throw at the hitter.
    .
    Drysdale knocked down Willie Mays many times to the entertainment of Dodger fans.
    .
    I can’t see some players wanting to draw attention to themselves. Seager and Pederson for instance are not going to flip their bats or do a slow trot around the bases. Some players will have a natural tendency to be more showy.
    .
    If it comes naturally for a player to demonstrate their excitement they should be able to do so with limits. Fist pumping going around the bases, holding on to their bats and giving a controlled flip as they run down the first base line, pitchers giving fist pumps when they strike out a hitter for me would be good for the game.
    .
    If a youth starts emulating big leaguers by flipping their bats they are going to clobber another player because of the small areas around home plate, short distances to the on-deck circle, or even the dugout. The first rule, the first lesson taught to a youth is to not throw the bat. That learned skill once learned sticks with a person for life. Don’t unteach it now.
    .
    It is hard enough to hit a baseball and success starts with overcoming any fear of being hit by a pitch. If baseball is boring it is because too much time is used for nothing more than making a pitch that is not hit. There is a need to cull out pitchers that too often would hit a batter if the batter didn’t get out of the way. More action is needed. Bat flips will not speed up the game or give viewers more action to watch.
    .
    There should be written exceptions to rules and one I would like to see would be for Puig to be allowed to dance on home plate after he hits a homerun off Bumgarner.

    1. Maybe young fans like this kind of behavior. I wouldn’t know. But one thing I do know having lived this long is “out with the old, in with the new” is reality. I can live with it. Even the melee’s, though I don’t like them, wtf, it’s not me down there so knock yourself out. No, really, if you choose to act like morons, do us a favor and knock somebody out. It would add to the entertainment level.

      I wonder how it might work if MLB adopted the NBA policy of tossing anyone who leaves the bench. That would certainly end what we see in that video above.

      Whatever. Idiots won’t ever be taken out of play. We have too many of them. Look around. They are everywhere. Play ball.

        1. Political rallies? I guess you could call them that. Almond Joys do have nuts. I used to be more engaged in that arena. Not so much these days. And of course, not here. Not ever here. But I do think the Donald should add Trump Nut Bars to his steak and wine collection.

          1. Yeah, what a choice huh Box?

            Jail? I doubt it. People that high up don’t go to jail.

            You might consider reading Chris Hedges March 2nd piece at Truthdig. He nails it. And he spares nobody. They are all in on it. That’s why I let it go. I may vote the lesser of the evils, but I’m not happy about it.

            I do vote for De Leon, Urias, Thompson and Barnes. And Roberts. If he can get this current group to post season he’s my Manager of the Year.

    2. LOL on the finish there, Bumsrap.
      You make an interesting point about the kids emulating the major leaguers and their bat flips. We all did it when we were kids, and I remember my son always wig-wagging his bat because Gary Sheffield did that for the Dodgers.
      When bat flips become commonplace, I don’t envy all those youth league coaches trying to stifle it at that level.

  13. Flipping the bat does not bother me. This is what bothers me. When Puig hit his double yesterday, he admired his hit. He walked to first base watching the ball, and when he saw it was not a HR, he then started to run. If you run hard to second, and if the outfielder bobbles the ball, you can go to third. This is what I hoped Roberts would stop. Ethier is liked by many because he runs hard on every play. This is why I keep saying, play the game the correct way. Do not disrespect the game.

    1. I do agree with that. General rule of “hard out of the box” must be ingrained in EVERY player. I had my own rule – “hit the ball and run to second”, you stop only after you make the turn. Everybody who played for me, or even those on teams which I played, knew they were gonna get an earful from me if they didn’t run it out. Puig still doing that rookie sh*t is not a good sign. Get on him Roberts. Get on him hard and often.

      1. Badger when is Puig going to stop throwing the ball, over the cut off man’s head? I can’t be mad at him, because he has done much better lately. He doesn’t catch a flyball, with that one handed catch, he use to use. That was hideous!

        1. Puig looks like a thinner version of the same melon head.

          Box is just passionate about his position. The bread and water candidate? So many from which to choose. All so deserving……..

          1. Badger I think the bread and water thing, was how some refered to Goldwater, in his presidential race. It was in 1964, and I can’t believe, that I knew this, and remembered this, because I was only four years old. The reason you are not involved, is the reason I think that Trump is getting votes. I can’t understand just what it is about Hillary, that turns a lot of people off. I know her connection with her husband, and being an insider, for a long time, but it seems to be more then that.

          2. MJ – go to Truthdig and read the article on the Rise of Western Fascism by Chris Hedges. He explains it very well and though Trump takes the most arrows, Hedges spares no one. Hillary and Bill have played their part too. This isn’t a theory anymore. This is done and playing out right in front of us.

    2. Good point Idahoal, about running out your hit. Standing and admiring a double will happen sometimes when a pimping player underestimates the flight of the ball, etc. – or when the player just wants to pimp, homer or not.
      I’m thinking in those cases, they will get an earful from vets on the team, from the coaches, the fans, and the media.
      Interesting to see how all that would play out – as we would be part of that fans and media dynamic.

  14. Right on Idahoal and all of this crapola gets down the high school much too quick. Other than successful and disciplined programs, the sideways hats, the flips and stares are rampant in my local H.S. games…
    Play hard and scoreboard…

    1. I wasn’t upset when Parra did that to Puig, because someone needed to teach Puig. And Parra is a good outfielder, and does have a good arm. I was going to say, that I am glad that Parra, wasn’t in this league anymore, but darn, he is on Rockies now.

  15. You see, Kershaw being ejected is the stupid reaction. That’s a Donnie Dumbass move. You don’t use Kershaw for that. You use somebody out of the pen that isn’t scheduled to pitch today. A little easy warm up, then one pitch and you’re outta here.

      1. Oscar everyone on the east coast thinks that Mattingly was a good manager. They think that the Dodger players, are a bunch of self serving players, that can’t play like a team. I really can’t wait to see what he does with the Marlins this year. He was the biggest problem with the Dodgers offense, these last few years.

        1. I was no Mattingly fan but I was hoping he had the mettle to get the Dodgers to the world series last year.
          Nope. Same old Mattingly. Hit the road!
          I’m now dang excited about the new Skipper!

      2. Sorry Oscar. You’re right. Throw the rear view mirror away and look ahead. Mattingly is Miami’s problem now. I don’t see that organization as a threat.

  16. Baseball doesn’t need Bryce Harper. It doesn’t need pitch clocks or other “improvements” aimed at garnering more ADD fans who spend the game tweeting and taking selfless. Like a Steinway, baseball was perfected before we were born. Crypt-keeper Bud Selig and his minions have done more to debase the game than all the bat flips and fist-pumps ever could. If a player is naturally exuberant fine; just play the game the right way.

    1. I think over the years the game has slowed down. Too many visits to the mound. Pitchers taking too much time to throw the ball. Hitters stepping out of the box.
      .
      Snider fan, can you imagine Puig stepping out of the box to adjust his gloves when Drysdale or Gibson were pitching?
      .
      Drysdale didn’t always throw at a hitter if they annoyed him. A hitter once stepped out of the box and retied his shoes and after he stepped back in and was ready to hit, Drysdale stepped off the mound and retied his shoes. Vin loved it.

  17. Bat flips are so inconsequential. Does anyone really care besides Bumgarner. As long as Harper has the kind of slash line he carried last season he could flip his bat or anything he wants to flip if he’s on my team. Puig needs to have similar stats then he can too.

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