Per Mark Saxon on Twitter, Martinez said, “I simply want him to respect the game and respect me as a veteran player. That’s it. Just play the game.”
Each episode of bat-flip condemnation gets sillier. Major League Baseball ran a ‘let the kids play’ campaign, which Acuna was a star of. Official MLB social media accounts have promoted bat flips, celebrations and the notion that – god forbid – these young, immensely talented ballplayers, can have some fun. There’s a clear disconnect between those hoping to grow the game and the seasoned veterans.
The obvious suggestion for Martinez is to not throw meatballs. The Cardinals’ closer very nearly blew a four-run lead after the Atlanta Braves‘ bullpen had collapsed, giving the Cardinals a supposedly easy Game One win. Acuna, then Freeman, took Martinez deep, and they weren’t cheapies.
This might seem like a novel idea for some veterans – who enjoy telling others how to play the game – but they should consider pitching better, then they won’t have such issues with watching their opponents celebrate. Martinez nearly blew an comfortable lead for St Louis – maybe those comments were displaced frustration at his own performance. It’s up to each baseball fan if they want to give him the benefit of the doubt on that.
While there are plenty of people who see bat flips and a celebratory home run trot as a matter of utmost disrespect, there’s never the same concern when pitchers show emotion. As if Martinez’s comments needed to seem more unnecessary, he’s renowned for his strikeout strut. A couple of times in Game One, Martinez broke into his swagger only to be disappointed when the umpire didn’t call strike three. Martinez is an entertainer, as is Acuna, and while a bit of conflict adds to the spectacle, it would be nice if we could get to a point where all baseball players respect each other’s right to enjoy the game.
It’s meant to be fun, after all.