Bumgarner was not happy, following Muncy around the bases and giving him an ear full.
After the game, Muncy said, “Bumgarner said ‘don’t watch the ball, run’, and I just told him if he doesn’t want me to watch the ball, go get it out of the ocean.”
Bumgarner’s post-game comments were along a similar line.
The San Francisco Giants’ left hander said “I can’t even say it with a straight face but the more I think about it, I should just let the kids play. But I just … I can’t. … They want to let everybody be themselves, then let me be myself. That’s me.”
And this is good. This is what baseball needs more of.
MLB have pushed the ‘let the kids play’ line this season. There were adverts based around the concept, trying to move the sport on from the nonsense of plunking batters and ‘unwritten rules’.
Batters have still been hit. Punishments have been weak, and there have been brawls aplenty for a variety of silly reasons.
In the 162-game slog of a MLB regular season, the sport needs fun. It needs players to enjoy it, and it needs to join the NBA and NFL in prioritising entertainment over nonsense traditions.
Bumgarner did not throw at Muncy in the following plate appearance. He responded in a way that was not popular, and understandably so, but it’s emotion, and baseball should not reject that.
The Giants are bad. The Dodgers are good. This game, for both teams, was pretty irrelevant, but the fire of rivalry made it a headline game, a story worthy of MLB fans’ attention.
People are angry at Bumgarner. The vast majority won’t care that Muncy admired his homer. And while it remains silly, which it undoubtedly was, it is something, it makes the game into something more than bad team plays good team.
With so many games in a season and so many teams a million miles from the playoffs, MLB needs things to give a game relevance. It’s not perfect, and Bumgarner’s reaction was OTT, but baseball should be encouraging emotion from its players. A few angered words are a hell of a lot better than a deliberate hit-by-pitch.
While bat flips, and hitters celebrating are good thingsTM, baseball benefits from pitchers being more than robots.
Bumgarner is a fiery competitor, a heart-on-his-sleeve guy. As he said, we should let him be himself, because whether the emotions are positive or negative, it’s things being genuine that matters most of all. In the same way we don’t want hitters to suppress their joy, we shouldn’t want pitchers to hold back their frustration.
Important note: Hitting batters isn’t a show of frustration. It’s a pathetic, old school tit-for-tat move.
Real emotion is good in sport. Muncy enjoying a monster bomb is good. Bumgarner caring is good (especially in the Giants’ situation).
MLB want to change a lot about baseball. One of the key things, though, isn’t about a ruling or financial regulation, it’s harder than that. It’s altering the approach to emotion (positive and negative).