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The unwritten rules of baseball will never “let the kids play”

Why hitters celebrate home runs, but pitchers don’t celebrate strikeouts

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Major League Baseball wants the game to be fun, but some of its players will never let it happen. The old school and new school regimes continued to clash earlier this week when White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson crushed a home run off of Royals pitcher, Brad Keller and then proceeded to flip his bat.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has been a huge proponent of making baseball more entertaining for the fans by introducing the marketing campaign during the 2018 postseason called, “let the kids play,” using Ken Griffey Jr. as their spokesperson.

Unfortunately, not everyone in baseball wants to “let the kids play.” The issue isn’t with the hitters, it’s with the pitchers. Advocates of bat flips for a more entertaining game argue that it should be both ways. They say that pitchers should celebrate when they strikeout a hitter, but it usually never happens. Yet we always see hitters celebrate home runs with bat flips and various other celebrations. Why does it seem like hitters celebrate home runs, but pitchers don’t celebrate strikeouts?

The answer: the home run takes time.

A pitcher celebrating a strikeout doesn’t have the same celebratory effect as when a hitter hits a home run. The amount of time that a home run takes to fully complete seems like an eternity compared to a strikeout. Starting from the point of contact where the hitter knows it’s gone, to the time the hitter steps on home plate is a long nightmare for a pitcher. A home run allows a hitter to relish in their accomplishment, whereas a strikeout happens so quick, that feeling of accomplishment for a pitcher is fleeting. A home run is already celebratory in nature. The hitter literally “runs circles” around the pitcher, almost shaming him. So when a hitter flips his bat on top of all that, it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.

This retaliation is emotional, not rational. It’s not OK and incredibly dangerous to purposely throw a baseball 95 mph at another human being. Unfortunately, this will continue to happen until all of the players get on board with “letting the kids play” or MLB implements sanctions or a penalty for this type of behavior. There were suspensions issued for both Anderson (1 game) for using a racial epithet and Keller (5 games) for the retaliation. However, this is not a good look for baseball because people seem to be more divided than ever on the “right way” to the play game.

Baseball players have long memories and short tempers. MLB wants to promote emotion, but it’s a double-edged sword. Until strict rules are put in the place in regards to celebrations and retaliation, hitters will continue to get drilled by pitchers for flipping their bats after home runs. The difficult part for baseball is how to enforce this issue. How do you prove that a pitcher intentionally hit a batter? Watch a baseball game and look at where the catcher’s glove is set up. How many times does the pitcher miss their intended location? The answer: quite often. In regards to celebrations, what type of celebratory action is deemed OK? These grey areas allow for “accidents or “cross ups”, which results in players getting hit merely for being successful at his jobs.

The NFL reinstated team celebrations and has benefited immensely from them because of its popularity among their fans. MLB is trying to do the same thing to attract more fans to the sport, but is receiving hard push back from active and former players.

Displaying celebration and emotion in MLB only brings positive things to the sport. Pitchers will never like it and it’s completely understandable. However, there shouldn’t be retaliation by a pitcher when a hitter hits a long home run off of him because it sets a poor image for the game. If Rob Manfred really wants to “let the kids play,” he can start be writing some of the unwritten rules down on paper, so this doesn’t happen anymore.

John LaLoggia writes about baseball at Beyond the Box Score, Banished to the Pen and Foul Territory Baseball. Please follow him on Twitter @JohnLaLoggia, email him at