Fun is Dead in Baseball

Baseball is not a place for celebration. It’s not a game in which players are allowed to display pure and unadulterated joy. Baseball may be a game, but it’s not supposed to be fun.

As crazy as this all sounds, there are some baseball purists out there that still believe that celebrations are ruining the sanctity of the game. There are members of the old boys club who think baseball is just pure sport, with no room whatsoever for showboating.

This has all come to light once again after Yasiel Puig’s display of celebration during Monday night’s game in Los Angeles. While a good portion of fans and pundits just see it as good-natured fun, some such as Carlos Beltran were admittedly irked by Puig’s”antics”.


Ironically enough, it turns out the St. Louis Cardinals have been among some of the worst offenders this postseason in on-field celebrations.

It seems as though I’m inherently contributing to the issue by devoting a blog post to it, but actions like Puig’s should be celebrated and not ridiculed.

Opposing players may think it’s other players trying to show them other up, but for the most part it’s just human nature to celebrate a win. It’s what little kids do on dirt diamonds everywhere, and it’s what grown adults should do under the bright lights of the show, as well.

I don’t understand why the Atlanta Braves were deemed as the fun police this season, but along with the St. Louis Cardinals, it appears as though these are two organizations in which these values are heavily instilled.

Let’s take Jose Fernandez for example; he’s a pitcher by trade, but he hits his first big league home run, and he’s not allowed to take an extra two seconds admiring what might be the only home run of his Major League career?

Carlos Gomez hits a home run off Mike Minor and Brian McCann stands in front of home plate as the gatekeeper of all that’s good and holy in baseball, and essentially tells Gomez “thou shalt not pass”.

Now the Gomez situation is slightly different than the Puig and Fernandez one because he clearly antagonized the Braves, but all of these instances share a common thread.

I’m sure there are some folks out there who think that players like Yasiel Puig, Jose Fernandez and even Bryce Harper are disgracing the great game of baseball. But the truth is, these are the very players that are going to usher in the next generation of baseball fans.

Moments like Yasiel Puig’s bat flip are the reason why people tune in to watch baseball these days. They’re the reason why people make GIF’s of plays like that, and the reason why they watch the replays over and over.


One of the things I still can’t wrap around my head around in baseball is the unwritten rule that you can’t overtly admire a clutch hit or strikeout. And if you do, expect retaliation for your actions in the way of a bean ball.

How exactly is that an eye for an eye? If anything, shouldn’t watching an opposing player celebrate on the field motivate you that much more to beat them? I still fail to see the connection between “you celebrate a home run, you get a fastball in the ribs”.

Again, it’s one of these unwritten rules that has been in baseball about as long as anyone can remember. It’s also one of those laws that’s been grandfathered in, and yet no one can really understand why.

And yet for the sanctity of the game, justice must be upheld against showboaters.

So if players aren’t allowed to celebrate on the field, when exactly are they allowed to? Is it only permitted during one of the inordinate amount of designated champagne celebrations during the postseason?

Or are the players taught to bottle up their emotions and simply round the bases or walk towards the dugout?


If that’s the case, then fun is officially dead in baseball. And if fun has been outlawed for the players, then it may as well be outlawed for fans as well.

Make it a game where everybody has to sit on their hands for nine innings; nobody gets up to cheer, nobody heckles the opposing team, and afterwards everyone exits the concourse in a calm and collected manner.

The kind of baseball I want to watch in 2013 and beyond is one that includes players being exuberant and showing raw emotion on the field.

The kind of baseball I want to watch is an exciting brand, not a subdued one.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

6 thoughts on “Fun is Dead in Baseball

  • October 16, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    I've always felt that you don't want someone on the other team admiring a long home run they hit off you, you shouldn't allow them to hit a long home run off you. The Braves would have fewer problems enforcing the code if their pitchers gave up fewer homers.

    • October 16, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      Hear hear … and it's odd how most of the incidents this season on the very subject involved the Braves as well. Maybe it's time they took a look in the mirror and loosed up a bit, eh?

  • October 17, 2013 at 4:00 am

    I agree and disagree. Of course players should be allowed to play relaxed and celebrate good plays, but there's an obvious point where it becomes arrogant, idealizing ones self over the team. You expect it from the young guys, and when it becomes a problem, you deal with it, the way Mattingly is dealing with Puig. As for the Jays, they showboat long before they make any good plays. That's a joke, but there's some truth in there. The common wisdom is that winning, no matter what, is the goal and I just disagree.

    • October 17, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      What happened with the Jays is almost an entirely different animal altogether. They were doing the Lo Viste while well out of it … it looked like it was just harmless fun, but I can see why some people would feel like a losing team shouldn't be fooling around like that. But if the team wins, they can basically do whatever the heck they want.

    • October 19, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      My only real gripe with the Jays was in April, when they still had some hope. The defense would be on the field, making errors you expect a contender won't make, and then celebrate. Outfield and infield. It was like they thought, since the team had so much talent, it would all just come together and they didn't have to work or be disciplined.

      As for this idea that a winner can do whatever they want, I hate the idea that when you're hot, people love you, and when you lose, you're a piece of garbage, so be ashamed, you're not a real human and don't deserve personal respect unless you become a winner. I actually think it's a serious problem in the western world, and it's the same ideals that are connected with the increase in sexual violence.

    • October 19, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      It's one of those tough things … a team shouldn't play like they're entitled, but at the same time, you want them to have fun and play loose. I suppose that's where the manager comes in and decides how he wants to police the team. It's all about finding that perfect medium, and hopefully Gibbons can get a better handle on that next season.

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