Major League Baseball, so Jorge Arangue says, is divided between the celebratory approach of Latinos and the stoicism of traditional Americans:
Forget about the stats vs. scouts argument: The biggest dissonance in the game right now is between the showmanship of Latino players and the stoicism of the old guard. Some believe it is the fight for baseball’s soul. Some believe that allowing such behavior will irreparably damage the game. It’s a silly argument, of course, but it’s happening.
A bat flip is not meant to ridicule a pitcher for having allowed a home run. The act is more of a celebration of an accomplishment. What is the harm in that? Furthermore, does the retaliatory action of throwing a baseball at someone really justify the perceived insult? …
It may be that the style of baseball that has been played for decades, and was developed during a mostly all-white era, has been long-lasting, but that doesn’t make it any better than another style of play.
So far, no one has been able to convince me that admiring a home run or pumping a fist after striking someone out somehow damages the fabric of the game. It might be showy and, yes, in part egocentric, but it doesn’t change anything about how baseball is actually played.
The Dominican Republic’s triumph in the World Baseball Classic this year showed everybody that flash can equal substance, and that baseball played in a not-so-serious manner can be fun to watch. The Dominicans boisterously celebrated each hit, each strikeout, each win, and the world did not implode, the seams did not come off baseballs, and anarchy did not reign in clubhouses.
Baseball will have to adjust to the changing racial dynamic of the game, just as the NBA and NFL did when they became predominantly black populated leagues. Basketball and football changed off and on the court/field, and eventually, the NBA and NFL embraced these changes and shrewdly marketed the game to a broader audience. Even the NFL, which critics call ‘the No-Fun League,’ allows simple celebrations like a touchdown spike or a fist-pump. Attitudes in baseball must change as well.