So, where do you stand on carrying the bat to first base?


Here’s a little thought experiment…

Earlier, some of you expressed disapproval of the crowd booing Trump at the World Series Sunday night, while others defended it.

Contemplating another Series controversy from last night’s game (and not the disagreement that led to the Nationals’ manager being ejected — it was quite a game), it occurs to me that it might be a sort of related issue.

I’d like to see y’all’s positions on the booing thing alongside your positions on whether it was OK for Alex Bregman and Juan Soto to carry their bats to first base after hitting home runs.

I have this theory that people who were disturbed by the booing would also disapprove of the bat-carrying, both being violations of certain standards of behavior. Likewise, anyone likely to approve of the “Lock him up” chant would be more inclined to let those young ballplayers strut a bit.

Me, I disapprove of both. I see both within a context of society fraying, becoming less civilized.



33 thoughts on “So, where do you stand on carrying the bat to first base?

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Mind you, this is not some major issue with me. In fact, I was sort of confused about the whole bat-carrying thing.

    I grew up thinking it was a RULE. I was taught to drop the bat immediately as I headed to first, and NEVER to throw it.

    Turns out that the bat-carrying thing is more a guideline than a rule — a practice that is frowned upon, seen as uncool. Jack (Master and Commander) Aubrey would call it “showing away,” or “topping it the nob.” Which are not quite the thing, you see.

    Now that that is clearer to me, I recognize it as something I disapprove of, if you make me take a stance one way or the other.

    One story I read this morning noted the irony that managers and coaches are disapproving of what Bregman and Soto did, at the same time that MLB is running an ad celebrating younger players for their brashness, players who Play Loud. (“Es una nueva generación.“)

    Harrumph. Baseball shouldn’t be played loud. We have stupid games like football for that. Baseball should be civilized…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Except that it wasn’t!

        Everybody assumed that at the time, but after the game he said he saw Bregman do it, and decided to do it himself because he thought it looked cool…

        We have to remember, he’s just a kid…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    An interesting thing about Soto’s gesture…

    Many folks took it as an answer to Bregman, like, “If you’re gonna be a jerk, I’ll be a jerk, too.” And the pointed way he carried and dropped the bat seemed to fit that interpretation.

    But Soto himself later said that he just thought what Bregman did was cool, so he did it, too.

    This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we need to model proper behavior for young people…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Speaking of modeling correct behavior…

      Dave Martinez said he was going to speak to Soto about the bat thing.

      Trouble is, while he’s going that, Soto is going to have in his head the picture of Martinez totally LOSING IT over the Turner call, and getting ejected from the game.

      By contrast with that, what Soto did seems like proper, dignified behavior…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, but I like these esoteric points of a time-honored game, things that you have to be in the culture to care about.

      It gives flavor to the experience of watching the game.

      Next you’re going to say that it’s OK for pitchers to never have to bat, like in the wicked American League…

  3. Bryan Caskey

    I sort of liked both the bat-carrying. You have to understand it within the larger context of “bat flipping” which is the new-ish trend when hitters hit home runs. They flip their bats towards the dugout before starting their home run trots, and each flip has varying degrees of flair. Bat-flipping is pretty normal now, and it’s fun, but again, it’s normal.

    Accordingly, I was mildly entertained when Bregman, rather than flipping his bat as expected, carried it to first base. You can see he tried to hand it off to the first base coach, but the first base coach was not expecting this new carrying-the-bat thing, so he was confused about whether to high-five or accept the bat. His confusion led to a fumbled exchange between him and Bregman at first base, which sort of put a damper on the cool factor, but only mildly. (This also shows how Bregman’s carrying the bat was not pre-planned. It was a spontaneous thing that the did without giving any advance warning to the first base coach, who was clearly taken by surprise…hence the fumbled exchange.

    In any event, I was entertained that Bregman had moved past simply flipping his bat to carrying it to first base. Something new and all…

    For Soto’s home run, which was later, it was even better. Soto hit an absolute moon-shot by the way…and he copied Bregman’s bat carrying thing in what I took to be a good-natured, “anything you can do, I can do better” taunt, which I heartily approve of. Anytime you can use an opposing team’s taunt against them, I’m here for that.

    I’m hoping that someone in Game 7 hits an important home run and carries the bat all the way around the bases with them over their head.

  4. Norm Ivey

    The booing was inappropriate. I don’t care bout the bat. These are guys who have the skill that allows them them to make a living knocking a ball around a field. If they want to show off a little, I’m cool with that.

    It’s the violent or boorish behaviors that some athletes are prone to that sours me on professional sports.

      1. bud

        I agree 100% with Norm. The booing stuff is understandable but I want those who agree with me that Trump is utterly deplorable to nevertheless set a better example going forward. Besides I think silence would have served the cause better. Booing just provides ammunition for the right wing nuts. Our political discourse is so toxic right now we need to change our behavior as a nation. I say that even though the vast majority of toxicity is on the side of the Republicans. And I regard false equivalency as a major problem among pundits. But I’m fine with carrying the bat. Throwing the bat could be dangerous so don’t do that.

      2. Norm Ivey

        Isn’t expecting anti-bat carriers to also be anti-booing along the same lines as assigning an entire raft of beliefs to an individual who identifies himself or herself as a conservative or liberal? Aren’t you assuming those people are members of the same tribe? I identify as an independent when considering the myriad components of a baseball game.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          “Isn’t expecting anti-bat carriers to also be anti-booing along the same lines as assigning an entire raft of beliefs to an individual who identifies himself or herself as a conservative or liberal?”

          Maybe, sorta. And since I hate that kind of “if-you-think-this-then-you-think-that” thing (a major peeve for me, for instance, is those people who say pro-life people don’t care about the child after he or she is born), I guess I should apologize.

          But I wasn’t trying to label or dismiss anyone. I just can’t help looking for patterns in human attitudes and trying to figure them out, and this seemed like a fun one to study.

          I was thinking it fit in with a larger idea that I’ve sort of been toying with the last few days. It’s related to what I was saying the other day when I cited the way the word “enthusiasm” was viewed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

          Back then, it had a connotation that had to do with less formal forms of religious worship. Dissenting sects tended to be seen as more “enthusiastic” than high Anglican and Catholic. I’m not sure when the Pentecostal movement reached its peak, but as I understand the archaic meaning of the word, they would definitely have been seen as “enthusiastic” in Jane Austen’s or the fictional Jack Aubrey’s day.

          I think it also bled over into politics. People who cheered on the French revolution would have been seen as engaging in enthusiasm, I suspect. Jefferson tended that way. Adams was less of an enthusiast in this sense.

          Anyway, I’ve just been making some leaps, noting the enthusiasm (in modern as well as archaic sense) of the Warren and Sanders campaigns, and of political partisans in general. Warren and Bernie (and Trump) attract enthusiastic crowds, it’s often mentioned.

          And I see the booing of Trump the other night as something from the enthusiastic side. And also bat-carrying.

          It has to do, I think, with the differences between “Apollonian” (relating to the rational, ordered, and self-disciplined aspects of human nature) and “Dionysian” (relating to the sensual, spontaneous, and emotional aspects) modes of behavior.

          Or maybe I don’t understand the way they meant the word at all. I’m basing this on inference from a few mentions in writing from the period, and in writing meant to imitate writing of the period (Patrick O’Brian).

          Anyway, I was thinking maybe that was the thread that ran through my tendency to disapprove of certain things, and others’ tendency to like them.

          It’s a pretty rough idea at the moment. Still polishing it… 🙂

          1. Mr. Smith

            Many of those “enthusiastic” dissenting “sects” were in the forefront of progressive change in the 19th century, everything from anti-slavery to gender equality and more. And I’m sure there were folks harrumphing them at that time, too. Thank goodness the world is not populated altogether with Jack Aubreys.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              And that brings me back to what I sometimes call my “tory sensibility.” Not so much about political positions, but having to do with a general temperament. I’m a change agent on a LOT of things, but I tend toward the careful, deliberate, thoughtful (as opposed to acting on feelings) approach. And I distrust jumping up and down and getting excited.

              One of the wonderful things about O’Brian is the way he pulls you in to care deeply about both the very conservative Jack and the very liberal Stephen. It’s wonderful…

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                OK, OK… I need to stop using that word so casually.

                I’m spending my Friday evening filling in some holes in the family tree, wherever I can find new hints, and I just ran across someone who MAY have been my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather.

                He was known as Capt. Jesse “the Tory” Barfield. Yikes. He apparently fought AGAINST Francis Marion.

                Or maybe not. There was another Jesse Barfield who served UNDER the Swamp Fox, so a patriot…

                So… from which am I descended…?

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Oh, this is ridiculous.

                  Some sources show Jesse the Tory as being married to Sarah Castelo (or Castellaw).

                  Others show the OTHER Jesse as being married to her — and having children who had Castellaw as a middle name.

                  I give up…

  5. David T

    Don’t watch the next most boring sport than golf. I had to look up to see who the Washington Nationals were, they’re the old Montreal Expos. Used to be a big Houston Astros fan growing up, but that was back when Nolan Ryan was still pitching for them.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      I understand why you think baseball is boring. On the surface, the game looks slow, which is a turnoff. Understanding the strategy behind each pitch and positional realignment opens up a whole new level of interest and enjoyment, but that it takes effort to learn all that.

      Here’s a good West Wing quote on baseball for the group:

      “I think Americans like to savor situations: ‘One down, bottom of the 9th, one run game, first and third, left-handed batter, right hand reliever, infield at double play depth. Here’s the pitch …'”

      1. David T

        Give me hockey over that. Once you learn what’s actually going on and that it’s just not a bunch of guys slapping a piece of rubber around it’s a lot more enjoyable to watch. Plus the action is non-stop and you’re in and out in around 2 hours.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          I like a good hockey game every once in awhile. It’s great in-person. I have trouble following the puck on tv because it’s so fast, but it’s incredible to watch in person. I also have a huge respect for hockey players because I can’t even skate while they are out there skating, boxing, and putting a puck in the net all at the same time.

          One of my good college friends was from up north, and he watched hockey all the time, so I sort of got it by osmosis. Seeing a Maple Leafs/Canadiens game is up on my sports bucket list.

  6. Doug Ross

    I’m okay with the bat carrying but the batter better be 1000% sure it’s a homerun when he does it. It would be pretty bad for the ball to hit off the wall while the batter is carrying extra weight down the first baseline.

  7. Bryan Caskey

    Bregman didn’t make a crude or offensive gesture. He didn’t directly taunt the opposing players. He didn’t say anything to the pitcher.

    If he had done any of the above things, he would rightly deserve condemnation. He enjoyed his home run in the world series and was emotional about baseball.

    It’s not a competition in stoicism. I don’t mind seeing players having fun. I’ve been coaching 7 and 8 year olds in baseball the last two years. Guess what we tell constantly tell them?


    Nothing Bregman did brought dishonor to himself or showed disrespect to “the game”.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Seriously, though, I do kind of enjoy it when the players are celebrating a win, or a great play, and looking like a bunch of little boys, jumping up and down…

        All my harrumphing notwithstanding, that does make me smile…

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