Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Showboating Vs. Sportsmanship

Monday night, during the Mets - Nationals game, the Nationals bench was apparently doing little chants and cheers that got under the skin of the Mets' journeyman starter Nelson Figueroa. Figueroa said the Nationals were "cheerleading in the dugout like a bunch of softball girls...Truly unprofessional. That's why they are who they are."

So is this unprofessional? Is there a difference between playful exuberance and classless showboating? I suppose it depends on the situation. I didn't get to watch the game so I don't know exactly in what spirit that chanting was. Apparently it was loudest in the third inning after Figueroa walked in a run. Perhaps Figueroa was a bit sensitive in his press conference after the game since he'd blown three leads in the first four innings.

These controversies seem to be following the Mets over the past few years. Jose Reyes was bush for giving too many high-fives. Lastings Milledge was bush for giving fans high-fives after his first career home run (among other things). Carlos Delgado was bush for not taking a curtain call. Is it possible that we are looking at these guys a little too closely?

No, the Nationals should not be taunting the opposing pitcher, especially being that they are a last place team. But Figueroa should probably keep his yap shut and just have John Maine put one in Nick Johnson's back (the guy hitting at the time) and let it be done. Now it will live on in the press for the rest of the season.

Sure Reyes and Milledge were being a little over the top, but they were young and how offensive are high-fives really? Ozzie Smith used to do running cartwheels and back-flips when he took the field!

As for Delgado, he was absolutely right to not take a curtain call. He is having a terrible year following the worst year of his career. He booed constantly by his own fans for months. So he has one big game and they fall in love again and expect him to thank them for cheering for him? Screw those fans! The only thing they are entitled to from Delgado is effort because they pay his salary. He doesn't have to crawl around under the table and be thankful for scraps of cheers leftover after David Wright leaves! Delgado didn't give them the finger. He didn't say anything in the media. He just didn't stand up one time. If he wakes up, starts hitting and carries the team to the postseason, then maybe he will feel he has done something worthy of a curtain call.

Joba Chamberlain is in the news for acting like an imbecile on the mound, but he is bringing that on himself. The guy is a middle reliever who celebrates every strikeout like he just won the World Series. What if a hitter did that arm-pump at first base every time he got a single or a walk. He'd get plunked every other at bat.

There is nothing wrong with being excitable and getting excited. We all get on players who don't seem to play with any joy (Jeff Kent, Garret Anderson, Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield, etc.) but then we can't stand players who play with too much! I guess it is a fine line, and maybe the fans and media are a bit overcritical. It seems like Baseball takes care of this kind of stuff better than other sports though. If some guy gets too high on his horse and shows someone up, there is no need to whine to the press about it - just go tell your pitching staff to take care of it.

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