Baltimore Orioles: Inspiration vs Professionalism


Ok, full disclosure; like many fans outside of Toronto, I do not like Jose Bautista.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that we had him but let him get away. Bautista compiled 3 hits in 11 at bats for the 2004 Baltimore Orioles before we let him go. He’s everything that the current version of the Orioles desperately needs from a corner Outfielder. Power. Defense. Leadership. And he’s doing it for a division rival.

Maybe it’s because he seemingly can dish it out, but he can’t take it when it comes to players puffing out their chests at each other. His ongoing feud with Orioles RP Darren O’Day is becoming a minor legend in the AL East.

One thing is for sure when it comes to “Joey Bats” though…he sure is entertaining. But is he good for baseball? The more I watch replays of his 7th inning mammoth homerun in ALDS game 5, the more I realize that I want more of it.

As a matter of fact, I have more of an issue with Edwin Encarnacion‘s reaction to his 6th inning solo shot than I do with Bautista’s stare down and bat flip reaction. You know why? Bautista followed his shot up with authority. He understood the moment. He did exactly what he set out to do…what he is paid to do. Encarnacion on the other hand seemed a bit surprised and giddy at his result.

I’m not picking on Encarnacion at all but I am pointing out that what was so great about Bautista’s reaction was that it was an exclamation point on his recognition of his confidence in his ability to get the job done. He tossed his bat in the air as if to say, “I won’t be needing this thing anymore…”. While the mic drop has jumped the shark, the bat flip and all of the inevitable variations of it forthcoming, is here to stay.

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  • Let’s face it, we expect professionalism from our athletes. They’ve been blessed with size and speed and combined it with an immense amount of hard work to make it to the top, and they are paid handsomely for their efforts. But is stoic professionalism very entertaining? Sure there is a limit to the celebrations, especially in the middle of a game, but I love the dugout reactions to big plays. I love when players understand the moment.

    To me, a Homerun is the most exciting play in sports. In an instant the game goes from little action to euphoria. You know it when you hear it and see it come off the bat. The players in the dugout jump to their feet in unison with the fans, all wide eyed and hopeful. We are celebrating it together. We are inspired together.

    I want to see players understanding the moment and entertaining us within it.

    What’s over the top? How about Eric Hosmer‘s Michael Phelps like hulk flex after hitting yet another ‘excuse me’ dribbler against a shifted defense that drove in a run from third, on the road in the 2014 ALCS.  At that point, I’m more impressed with the base runner for taking the chance and running for home on an infield grounder. He’s ready to take one for the team at the plate to get that run. It’s inspiring. Hosmer’s reactions were annoying because the plays were uninspiring. Does it have something to do with those runs being scored against the Baltimore Orioles? Probably, but Hosmer needs to understand the moment. Hit an authoritative gapper off the wall and cruise into second standing after driving in a few runs in your own house? Have at it Chief. You deserve it.

    It’s not just in baseball either.  How many times in football have you seen a player celebrate a sack or first down while down by 3 scores? It’s unprofessional because it’s all about them, and not the team. It’s uninspiring.

    So what does this have to do with the Orioles? Many fans are proud of the professionalism and restraint the Orioles employ. Indeed, in the right moments, it’s the right thing. But I like seeing Adam Jones putting the finishing touch on the play when he guns down a runner at home. I like seeing Matt Wieters show a base runner the ball after tagging him out at the plate. And I like seeing the sunflower seed shower ritual in the dugout after a homerun. One of the things I love about the Orioles is the personality of the team. It’s inspiring. And it’s inspiring because they understand the moment.

    So I want more of it. I want to see more bat flips and fist pumps. I want to see players understanding the moment and entertaining us within it. I want to get a lift out of that moment.

    I want to be inspired.

    Next: MLB needs to control a few things

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