David Ortiz Says Bat-Flip Critics Should Shut up

Ortiz tells pitchers who give up home runs to "take it like a man."

David Ortiz by Keith Allison on Flickr/Creative Commons

David Ortiz by Keith Allison on Flickr/Creative Commons

Over the last several months, the bat flip has been at the center of baseball’s culture war between proponents of its stodgy unwritten rules and those who want the game to loosen up. David Ortiz weighed in on the debate over the weekend, and told bat-flip critics to can it.

In an interview with the Globe‘s Alex Speier, Ortiz said hitters have every right to celebrate after they hit a home run.

“Whenever somebody criticizes a power hitter for what we do after we hit a home run, I consider that person someone who is not able to hit a homer ever in his life,” Ortiz said. “Look at who criticizes the power hitters in the game and what we do. It’s either a pitcher or somebody that never played the game. Think about it. You don’t know that feeling. You don’t know what it takes to hit a homer off a guy who throws 95 miles per hour. You don’t know anything about it. And if you don’t know anything about it, [shut up]. [Shut up]. Seriously. If you don’t know anything about it, [shut up], because that is another level.”

The bat-flip debate was reignited last fall, when Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista demonstrably tossed his bat aside after he belted a late go-ahead home run in Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series. Rangers pitcher Sam Dyson, who gave up the 442-foot bomb, admonished Bautista afterwards, saying he needs to “respect the game a little more.”

The issue returned to the forefront two weeks ago, when Hall of Fame hurler Goose Gossage unleashed a profanity-laced tirade about how he thinks Bautista disgraced his heritage when he flipped his bat last season.

“Bautista is a f—ing disgrace to the game,” Gossage said. “He’s embarrassing to all the Latin players, whoever played before him. Throwing his bat and acting like a fool, like all those guys in Toronto. [Yoenis] Cespedes, same thing.”

The 64-year-old Gossage’s comments may be crass, but they’re ultimately harmless. He’s a bitter, out-of-touch gasbag whose greatest influence on baseball today is the couple of days he spends hanging around Yankees camp each spring. What’s notable is that some of baseball’s current stars have expressed similar sentiments against on-field celebrations, albeit in far less inflammatory tones.

Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who’s commonly regarded as the best player in baseball right now, said he thinks bat flips disrespect the pitcher. Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright agreed, saying he doesn’t think bat flips need to be a part of the game.

Even one of Ortiz’s newest teammates, David Price, has spoken out against it. Price criticized Ortiz three years ago when he took him yard twice in the ALDS, saying he should run the bases instead of admiring his shot. The two have made up since, but they remain on different sides of the debate.

“This game is competition. This ain’t no baby-sitting,” Ortiz said. “There ain’t no crying. When somebody strikes me out, I’m not up there crying, like, ‘Boo-hoo . . . this guy’ . . . No, no, no. There’s none of that. There’s no babysitting in baseball. There’s no babysitting. If you’re going to take it like a baby, I’m going to take [you] deep again. How about that? Take it like a man and make better, quality pitches the next time I face you, and then you get [me] out, and then you do whatever the hell you want. This is competition.”

And while we appreciate that he’s apparently seen A League of Their Own, Ortiz isn’t alone in his crusade to bring more showmanship to the baseball diamond. Reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper said recently in an ESPN the Magazine profile that baseball is a “tired sport” because of its systemic anti-fun mentality. Much like Ortiz, Harper has routinely been lambasted for his celebratory antics.

It’s clear Ortiz doesn’t intend to tone his act down as he enters his final season. He seems to feed off the criticism, and as long as baseball players remain divided on this issue, he’ll certainly face plenty of it as he rides into the sunset.