Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle is known for being outspoken on a number of issues. He most recently tackled the notion of excessive celebration in the game of baseball.
Doolittle doesn’t give up many home runs — he’s allowed just three so far in 2018 — but when he does, he wants to be clear. Go nuts. Go crazy. It doesn’t bother him.
“If a guy hits a home run off me, drops to his knees, pretends the bat is a bazooka and shoots it out at the sky … I don’t give a s—,” Doolittle said.
Doolittle was willing to put his money where his mouth is. He said that for any player who takes him deep, as long as the celebration is sufficient enough to impress him. He’ll match whatever fine MLB issues and donate that amount to a charity of the hitter’s choice.
Doolittle later tweeted that he was joking, but only about paying the fine. He still encouraged a lavish celebration — some of his suggestions included doing the moonwalk around the bases or riding the bat like a pony. He just wouldn’t encourage anyone to hit a home run off of him.
“Really, on a serious note,” Doolittle said, “I think those things make baseball more fun, they make it more accessible to the fans. The fans feel like it’s something they can connect with.”
Baseball certainly has a reputation as being most popular among older fans. The game’s slow pace and inconsistent doses of excitement haven’t done it any favors, and it consequently has struggled to grow its audience. But would celebratory theatrics really move the needle for the younger demographic?
What’s Your Take?
Take 1: Baseball is a great game, but needs a boost
Nothing stays good forever. Baseball has its traditions, which are great, but it shouldn’t take itself so seriously. Look at the Little League World Series. People love that because the kids are showing their real emotions out there, that authenticity is so compelling to watch. Not only should MLB players be able to feel free to celebrate, they should be able to show their individuality in other ways. And MLB should do a better job marketing its players. How many people around the country even know Mike Trout is one of the best players of all time?
Take 2: Baseball is great because it doesn’t change
Not everyone has to like baseball. If it’s not flashy enough for some, then so be it. But the game shouldn’t change the way it is just to draw in new fans. Baseball fans like the pace, they like how players conduct themselves. It’s a respect thing. If a player wants to do cartwheels around the field, that’s not respecting the game. He’s making it about himself. Baseball is just fine the way it is. It’s not MLB decreeing that, players just understand that’s not how the game is meant to be played.
So, should players be free to express themselves fully? Or is baseball simply just a stoic game? Have your say in the comments below.
From GameChanger and Todd Kortemeier.