Here is a post that shows Aroldis Chapman doing two celebratory somersaults toward home plate after recording the final out of the game. Predictably, Dusty Baker gave a “we don’t play that way” quote, and speculation abounds: will Joey Votto get a pitch in his ribs in retaliation? Will the Reds fine Chapman? How many absurd columnists will write screeds about how Chapman is unprofessional, and how many bloggers will hit back with screeds about how writers are old fogies?
I’m writing in the evening on June 26th, so most of this reaction and re-reaction hasn’t happened yet, but by the time you’re reading on June 27th, you’ll surely have no shortage of material to consume on the subject.
But what is the subject? A celebration, right? A guy got happy because he accomplished a task, reached a goal. Is it embarrassing to the other team that Chapman somersaulted? Then maybe they should try winning the game. Does it disrespect the game itself? I’d love an explanation of how that’s the case. It’s a game in which a dude throws a ball and another dude tries to hit that ball with a stick. If he successfully hits the ball, a bunch of people run around. People slide around in the dirt and grass. It’s trite, but it’s trite because it’s true: sports are an amusing recreational activity during which we are supposed to behave, to a large degree, like children. We get sweaty and dirty and worry later about the consequences. We shout and we whoop and holler when we win. We pump our fists and jump in the air and point to the sky.
But somersault! My gosh, that’s unimaginable. How could anyone dare somersault?
Have you seen the way teams celebrate after a walk-off home run? I have pretty recently, actually, because I’m an A’s fan, and Derek Norris hit a three-run homer to power Oakland to a 4-2 victory over the Giants on Sunday. Do you know what happened? Twenty-four men gathered around home plate jumping and laughing. Norris came around the bases, tossed aside his helmet, and jumped onto the plate. His teammates mobbed him, pounding his head, pounding each other, hugging and dancing and laughing and yelling. Norris’s shirt was ripped off at some point. Later, during a television interview, Norris got a pie in the face from Josh Reddick. This is June, by the way, and the A’s won’t play a meaningful game (in terms of their own playoff implications) all season.
But somersault! Well that’s just disrespectful. We don’t play that way.
Pitcher of the Night: Gavin Floyd, 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 9 K
Sure, the Twins the Twins, but that’s a nice line. It’s not necessarily a Pitcher of the Night-type line, but last night’s games didn’t provide a ton of individual excitement on the pitcher side of the ledger, so Floyd throwing seven innings against a team that has historically pounded him (8.86 ERA — though “vs. team” splits are some of the dumbest ones around. The sample is either too small to care about or it’s so large that it took years to create, and the composition of the team the player faced changed so much as to make the whole venture meaningless) will have to serve. Plus, Bill was at the game.
Hitter of the Night: Adam LaRoche, 2-4, 2 HR, 1 BB, 3 R, 3 RBI
The two players who surround LaRoche in the batting order each had four hits, but two homers and a walk takes the day every time. The entire Nationals squad simply victimized Christian Friedrich and Guillermo Moscoso of the Rockies, which is something we’re saying a lot these days. It’s a shame it cost Bob Apodaca his job as pitching coach, though at least it comes as a reassignment to a front office job rather than an out-and-out firing. He’d get paid either way, of course, but one imagines that the ability to continue contributing to the short- and long-term health of the team will cushion the blow of being fired (or “fired”) a bit, at least as compared to sitting at home and looking around for a new job, contemplating retirement, and so forth. (It’s also worth noting that the official story is that Apodaca requested the reassignment. Perhaps that’s true — maybe he felt like he wasn’t doing the job, maybe he didn’t feel that he was the right coach for the new four-man rotation, or maybe he’s just sick of it. On the other hand, the members of the President’s Cabinet never get fired, either — they just have a resignation letter on file, waiting for the President to accept it.)
Defensive Play of the Night: There’s no embed code yet, but go watch Jerry Hairston make an insane turn at second on a 5-4-3 double play, leaping to make the catch and releasing a throw to first in the same motion. The throw wasn’t 100% on target, but the out was recorded, so it’s good enough.
Ejection of the Night: Ozzie Guillen was tossed by home-plate umpire Dan Bellino for arguing balls and strikes. It was his first ejection as a Marlin (that counts, anyway — he was removed from a spring training game as well).
Emmy Winner of the Night: DeWayne Wise totally misses a leaping catch into the stands but somehow sells the catch to the umpire anyway:
(Also, is Jack Hannahan the biggest hothead in the game?)
Injuries of Note:
Is an announcement that Brian Schneider will miss three to five weeks with a high ankle sprain “of note”? I’m not sure how these things work.
Clay Buchholz has esophagitis. This sounds awful.
Daniel Hudson left his start in the second with a forearm/elbow problem. It doesn’t sound good.
Cardinals: Yadier Molina, 1-4, HR
Molina’s homer was his 12th and he now has 276 plate appearances on the year. His previous career-high is 14 in 518 PAs last season. All of a sudden (as in, in the last two years), the guy can hit.
Phillies: Carlos Ruiz, 3-4, HR
The homer was Ruiz’s tenth of the year, the first time he’s hit double digits. He’s still got a whole other half of baseball to play.
Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton, 2-4, 2B, HR
Angels: Albert Pujols, 2-5, 2B, HR
Despite interleague play, Albert Pujols had never before appeared in a game in Camden Yards. He appears to like it.
Orioles: Brian Matusz, 5 IP, 13 H, 5 R, 1 K
It’s comforting that even in a halfway-decent season (4.53 FIP entering the game), the old, awful Matusz still surfaces from time to time.
Indians: Bullpen, 2 IP, 2 R
Justin Masterson left a four-run deficit in the hands of his relief compatriots and they turned it into a six-run gap. The offense, of course, proceeded to score four runs in the top of the ninth. Predetermined outcomes etc. etc. etc., but I bet Tony Sipp and Nick Hagadone are frustrated with themselves tonight.
Yankees: Chris Stewart, 2-3
Sure, they were both singles, but how often does Chris Stewart go 2-3?
Pirates: Michael McKenry, 3-3, 2B, HR
McKenry is apparently trying to Pipp Rod Barajas, though saying that is a serious insult to the memory of Wally Pipp.
Red Sox: Daisuke Matsuzaka, 5 2/3 IP, 1 R, 6 K
It’s not great. It’s not even a “quality start.” But it is a positive in the context of Matsuzaka’s career, so I’m sure Red Sox fans will take it.
Blue Jays: Two outfield assists in one game is always exciting to see, especially when one of them is credited to Rajai Davis.
Braves: Freddie Freeman, 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R
Freeman pushed his OBP over .300 with this game. That’s not something you want to hear someone say about your theoretically franchise first baseman.
Reds: Bronson Arroyo, 7 2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K
That’s not normally impressive enough to call out, but Arroyo took a no-hitter into the eighth, then gave up the lead to the Brewers with a disastrous sequence of batters. The Reds did come back to win, of course, prompting the above Chapman Somersault Incident.
Brewers: Marco Estrada, 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 12 K
Seventeen swinging strikes in 95 pitches is a good way to rack up two strikeouts per inning.
Padres: Will Venable, 2-4, HR, 25 pitches seen
Pitches-seen is one of my favorite additions to the ESPN box score in the last few years. Getting 25 pitches and hitting a homer is a pretty nice game for a leadoff man.
Rays: Brandon Gomes, 1/3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 1 HR
Royals: Bruce Chen, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K
Chen Music pounded the zone with 72 strikes in 99 pitches. Against a Jeff Keppinger-Hideki Matsui 3-4 batting lineup, that’s the right approach.
Twins: Tyler Robertson, 3 batters faced, 3 K
This was Robertson’s big-league debut.
Cubs: Anthony Rizzo, 2-4, 2B
This is not typically a notable line, but it was the much-heralded Anthony Rizzo’s Cubs debut, so even an 0-4 would have made the Cram Session.
Nationals: Aside from the Hitting Line of the Night, there are too many good individual games to call out just one. Washington had 21 hits and 12 runs.
Rockies: Guillermo Moscoso, 1 2/3 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 3 HR
Sure, Seth Smith was kind of an extra player for the Rockies, but is this really all you could get for him?
Mariners: Jason Vargas, 6 2/3 IP, 10 K
Vargas, you’ll remember, is the epitome of a soft-tossing lefty. He’s not the guy who’s supposed to rack up double-digit strikeouts, even against the A’s.
Giants: Ryan Vogelsong, 7 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 0 R
The man has a 2.23 ERA and he just won his head-to-head matchup with Clayton Kershaw. This is absurd. Still.