Bat flips: Fair or foul?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Celebrating scoring in sports

Spring is in the air, some days, and baseball is here. UVU baseball has started its season and MLB’s spring training is in full swing. Baseball brings the best things sports has to offer with warm summer days, sunflower seeds, double plays and towering home runs. But with towering home runs comes a yearly controversy: How much celebrating is too much?

The bat flip has become the regular celebration among home run hitters as they leave the batter’s box and watch the ball sail over the outfield fence. But sluggers have been criticized for showboating and over-celebrating home runs. “Act like you’ve been there before” and “respect the game” are phrases that come to mind as these power hitters flip their bats aside. I say let them have their fun.

We’ve seen players showboating home runs for years. Hall of famers Ricky Henderson and Ken Griffey Jr. always celebrated home runs. Henderson used to dance around and tug at his jersey after a home run. I don’t know how many times I watched Griffey Jr. strut out of the box as he admired a long homer.

The home run is the pinnacle of scoring in sports. It’s used in everyday terminology to express a job well done. Why shouldn’t it be celebrated as such? Through 17-plus weeks of the NFL we watch football players celebrate every touchdown like they just won the lottery. And why shouldn’t they? Comedian Daniel Tosh put it pointedly when he said, “I don’t care if you get in the end zone and have a 10-minute tea party. It’s a game!”

The same applies with a bat flip. In fact, shouldn’t a home run be celebrated even more than a touchdown? Yes, home runs come in more volume than touchdowns, but the frequency of home runs is far fewer. During the 2015 NFL season teams scored touchdowns at a rate of 2.6 TDs per game, while the MLB hit just 1.01 homers per game. So really, every home run should be celebrated with more enthusiasm than that of a touchdown.

Home runs are an exciting part of baseball, and they should be celebrated to the fullest extent. Toronto’s Jose Bautista emphatically flipped his bat aside after hitting a go-ahead three-run homer in last year’s American League Division Series. It was fantastic. If Washington’s Bryce Harper decides he wants to take it to the next level and gallop around the bases like John Cleese from Monty Python, let him. If you don’t like it, get them out.