So it seems that Yasiel Puig has decided to limit or even eliminate his bat-flipping, because otherwise he would be disrespecting "American Baseball".
Yes, the obvious response to this is WTF.
Over at Vice Sports -- with an utterly brilliant headline, by the way, Sean Newell was a bit more explicit:
After years of this being a topic, Yasiel Puig has been shamed and hassled into not flipping his baseball bat after getting a hit. Now let that sentence roll around your dome for a bit. I honestly want the names of every single person in the United States of America who thinks Yasiel Puig flipping his bat after a single against the Arizona fucking Diamondbacks is a travesty. I will then ask them to meet me in Temecula where I can ask them one, simple question: "Really?" And maybe one sub-question. "Like, honestly, does this act mean one goddamned thing to you?"
First, let me be clear about this: YES THIS IS A CRUMMY THING.
Yasiel Puig wasn't hurting anybody. He wasn't hurting anyone physically, and if he's somehow hurt some poor millionaire pitcher's feelings along the way ... Well, a good psychologist isn't all that hard to find. Especially if, you know, you're a millionaire.
Until we forget Derek Jeter, we'll keep talking about a new Face of Baseball, and there will be talk about Mike Trout except Mike Trout's sort of a lousy candidate because ... well, because all he does is play baseball like few have played it before. Aside from the occasional homer-saving catch in center field or laser beam off his bat, Trout's sorta boring. In person, I mean. (Statistically, he's enough make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.)
Leaving Trout aside, and assuming that such a beast might actually exist, Yasiel Puig is one of the two or three best candidates for Face of Baseball ... but largely because he's always demonstrated a certain joi de vivre that's too often hidden in the major leagues.
Actually, there's plenty of joi de vivre. Players are celebrating constantly. Outfielders celebrate together after a win, teammates celebrate in the dugout after a routine, moved-the-runner-up(!) grounder to second base, and of course they all celebrate after a 6-2 win in May.
But the best thing a player can do -- hit the ball over the fence -- is supposed to proceed without any demonstration of enthusiasm. Because of the pitcher's feelings, I guess? And because he might get upset and throw at somebody's head, 95 miles an hour?
Well, here's an original idea: Instead of telling guys to stop having fun when they hit a home run, why not tell guys to stop throwing baseballs at other guys? This would have the twin virtues of making baseball more fun for the fans and making baseball safer for the players.
Man, Commissioner Bud never would have let this happen...