Watching the highlights over at MLB.com of yesterday's bushwhacking of the St. Louis Cardinals by the Milwaukee Brewers, two thoughts came to mind. The first is that Bob Uecker is a national treasure. The second thought is that this observer has never seen a team celebrate in such an "In your face" style. Look at the highlight (that's okay, this Fan will wait). Okay, did you see the celebration after Prince Fielder's homer and after Yuniesky Betancourt's? After seeing these football types of celebrations, this writer had to write this all down in a stream of consciousness type of way to get a handle on how this "feels" to a baseball purist of sorts.
There is no doubt how Milwaukee Brewers fans feel about the...umm...emotional expression shown by their beloved team. They eat it up like candy. To be sure, St. Louis Cardinal fans, a fan base that you would think is more traditional considering the age of the franchise, must hate the celebrations and must gnash their teeth at the way the Brewers express themselves. Tony LaRussa, about as conservative a baseball manager as you can get, must be seething. Don't be surprised if at some point, Tony directs one of his pitchers to get retribution of some sort with a well-placed rib shot (not that this writer is advocating such action as it's a dangerous ploy).
Since Jason Wojciechowski coined the Tasker Integrity Position (or TIP for short) in a recent post, this Tasker--for whom the moniker was named--has a moral obligation to give an opinion on such things. Surprisingly, the TIP status of the Brewers' celebratory emulations is not negative. This writer likes the celebrations in the NFL and chafes that the NFL tries to regulate against it. The NFL, like many of the conservative ilk in MLB think that there should be some professional protocol in how the players conduct themselves. No team--in their minds--should ever try to show up the other team. No doubt there is some small measure of concern for fights that might occur because of such in your face actions, but the larger reason seems to be an old-fashioned sense of chivalry.
And there is a fine line between hot-dogging, self-indulgent actions and expressions of joy that come from doing something spectacular in an dramatic fashion when it really matters. While this writers is somewhat offended by Nyger Morgan's language, there is joy in his actions that is hard not to cheer. It seems the Brewers' situation also has to be considered. This may be Prince Fielder's last season in Milwaukee. The team went all in to compete this season knowing that reality. For him to share a love-fest with his home crowd doesn't seem out of line under those circumstances.
And this isn't the first time that this debate has been encountered. When Joba Chamberlain first came up, his antics on the mound were criticized and seemed in stark contrast to the way Mariano Rivera goes about his work with professional aplomb. Jose Valverde's antics have caused the same kind of debates. Personally, this writer thinks that Valverde's antics are fun to watch. And that's the bottom line. Sports is a form of entertainment. And yet we try to think of it as a modern day expression of the chivalrous days of jousting. The truth is that jousting was a product of its times just as such non-chivalrous displays of celebration are a product of our times. This writer lived through the 1960s and a part of that movement was young people deciding that the staid ways of their parents weren't for them. We live in the overflow of that era and into the era of rap and other forms of more "in your face" type of entertainment.
So how should the Cardinals react? Well, if you want the antics to stop, you have to beat the Brewers. If you beat them, you win. If you don't, then what can you say? If a Cardinal reliever strikes out a Brewers' batter in a big spot, then he should run to the dugout with his arms extended in celebration. That's only fair, right? Complaining about those antics without winning the series will not do the Cardinals any good. The games are played to be won and if you lose, you lose. How the winning team reacts is not your problem. Losing is.
After carefully examining inwardly on this issue, this writer has no issues with what he has seen from the way the Brewers are celebrating their successes. There is a joy in their expression and a satisfaction in performing in ways they've dreamed about their whole lives. What's wrong with that? Does it show up the Cardinals? Only if the Cardinals let themselves be shown up. How do the Cardinals avoid being shown up? Win.