Here is a post that shows Aroldis Chapman doing two celebratory somersaults toward home plate after recording the final out of the game. Predictably, Dusty Baker gave a "we don't play that way" quote, and speculation abounds: will Joey Votto get a pitch in his ribs in retaliation? Will the Reds fine Chapman? How many absurd columnists will write screeds about how Chapman is unprofessional, and how many bloggers will hit back with screeds about how writers are old fogies?
I'm writing in the evening on June 26th, so most of this reaction and re-reaction hasn't happened yet, but by the time you're reading on June 27th, you'll surely have no shortage of material to consume on the subject.
But what is the subject? A celebration, right? A guy got happy because he accomplished a task, reached a goal. Is it embarrassing to the other team that Chapman somersaulted? Then maybe they should try winning the game. Does it disrespect the game itself? I'd love an explanation of how that's the case. It's a game in which a dude throws a ball and another dude tries to hit that ball with a stick. If he successfully hits the ball, a bunch of people run around. People slide around in the dirt and grass. It's trite, but it's trite because it's true: sports are an amusing recreational activity during which we are supposed to behave, to a large degree, like children. We get sweaty and dirty and worry later about the consequences. We shout and we whoop and holler when we win. We pump our fists and jump in the air and point to the sky.
But somersault! My gosh, that's unimaginable. How could anyone dare somersault?
Have you seen the way teams celebrate after a walk-off home run? I have pretty recently, actually, because I'm an A's fan, and Derek Norris hit a three-run homer to power Oakland to a 4-2 victory over the Giants on Sunday. Do you know what happened? Twenty-four men gathered around home plate jumping and laughing. Norris came around the bases, tossed aside his helmet, and jumped onto the plate. His teammates mobbed him, pounding his head, pounding each other, hugging and dancing and laughing and yelling. Norris's shirt was ripped off at some point. Later, during a television interview, Norris got a pie in the face from Josh Reddick. This is June, by the way, and the A's won't play a meaningful game (in terms of their own playoff implications) all season.
But somersault! Well that's just disrespectful. We don't play that way.