The bat flip redux

I was at my local YMCA doing my best to break a sweat on the nearest elliptical machine when I saw it right there on the mini-TV in front of me: Jose Bautista’s code-violating, Goose Gossage-irritating, ethically-questionable, racially-profiled bat flip.

It was an ESPN promo for Major League Baseball’s Opening Day which is only a few days away.   At the very end of their slick promo, the network’s final pitch to get us pumped for the upcoming season was Bautista’s now infamous bat flip.  The same bat flip which I wrote about only a week ago, the same bat flip that sent Goose Gossage and most recently Johnny Bench into a tizzy, the bat flip that Bryce Harper indirectly said was good for the game for it allowed young players to show emotion.

Yeah… that bat flip.

bautista flips

So here is ESPN, the monopoly of sports networks using, not the home run mind you, not the swing and most certainly not the ball leaving the park but rather Bautista’s bat flip to market the game it has invested millions of dollars in to broadcast.

The great minds at Disney must know something we don’t and boy, do they disagree with Rich Gossage.

According to the Goose, and several other, old crotchety fuckers that used to play baseball back when all was sacred and holy, the bat flip is inherently disrespectful.  It shows up the pitcher and breaks baseball’s unwritten code of sportsmanship.

And there is little ol’ ESPN using it to promote the sport.  Oh, the horror!

LeBatardOn a somewhat related note, follow me here, the Tampa Bay Rays traveled to Cuba last week.  ESPN’s Dan LeBatard was one of the network’s few outspoken members to vehemently protest how his employer was celebrating the game and breaking down barriers in our globe’s last bastion of communism.  LeBatard is of Cuban descent and naturally had a different take than the rest of us.

“I’ve never known anything but freedom. My grandparents and parents made sure that was so. Now my grandparents are dead, and my parents are old, and the Cuban regime that strangled them somehow lives on … lives on to play a baseball game with our country this week. America extends its hand toward a dictator who has the blood of my people on his own hands. And now my parents, old exiles, have to watch Obama and Jeter and ESPN throw a happy party on land that was stolen from my family — as the rest of America celebrates it, no less.”

LeBatard, unlike so many other ESPN personalities before him, was not suspended for his comments, which were well-constructed and heartfelt but out of touch with modern reality.  For how long can one hold a grudge?  Memo to Mr. LeBatard: the Cold War is over.  We won.

ESPN, like its parent company Walt Disney, generally likes to avoid politics.  That’s why they demote people like Mike Ditka for calling Obama the worst president ever.  After all, Democrats buy Disney passes too.  We can argue about the nauseating political correctness of it all but that’s not changing as long as the Mouse is calling the shots.

Gossagely, crotchety old fuckers like J-Dub and I will bitch about ESPN and their tactics but we still watch.  We just recognize it for the shallow, self-aggrandizing source of sports news that it is.  Politics or not, if the Golden State Warriors are on, I’m watching.  I just might do so with the volume down.

We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the network is owned by a business which made its fortune off a fictitious mouse so why should any of this make any sense?

We all know ESPN has the uncanny knack for creating its own story.  The Gossage gripe took place on an ABC radio interview.  ABC and ESPN are both owned by Disney.  The Harper comments about the modern state of the game took place in an ESPN the Magazine Interview.  And LeBatard’s Cuba comments obviously took place on his ESPN radio show.

When there is no news, they create some.  There are bigger sins.

mexican donaldJust like we still take our families to Disney despite the hot weather, long lines and ridiculously overpriced gift shops selling us shit we don’t need, we go… because it’s Disney.  So if ESPN’s formula for success is that bat flips are good for viewership then I’m sorry, Goose, but the mouse packs a little more clout.  And if the network says opening borders and allowing baseball in Cuba is a good thing, then Mickey’s pal Mexican Donald is right once again.

Network ratings may be down but ESPN was still the sixth most watched network in the land.  If they have to create a little news, then so be it.  As long as we all know what we’re watching.

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8 Replies to “The bat flip redux”

  1. Well Said Chris. I think your description(s), of ESPN and Disney are accurate. It all seems like such a waste of our time to support and spend time paying so much attention to OPB, and finding it entertainment enough to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. I mean, to know they took Ditka down because of his Obama comments was a different kind of move particularly when you leave the current commentary of LaBatards untouched. I would hope that somewhere in the wisdom of ESPN and Disney, recognizing commentary that has some basis in fact, (LaBatard’s), versus personal, (idiotic in my opinion), sentiment would continue to prove to be useful. As you so eloquently put it, if they have to create a little bit of news, so be it.

  2. Hey, why stop with the bat flip? Why not have your pitcher throw his glove high in the air after K’ing a batter in a key situation? How ’bout a fielder giving a Gronk spike after a key out? In any sport, showing up your opponent deserves retribution. In football it’s called taunting receiving an unsportsmanlike penalty. Let’s let MLB continue to police themselves. I suggest body armor Jose the next time you face Texas.

  3. The bat-flip that caused reverberation around the world of baseball ? WTF ! One more reason why this sport ran , by a bunch aging @ssholes , no longer resonates with the masses in general .

    ESPN much like Fox News , takes itself way too seriously and offers about as much insight as watching wheel barrow load of $hit being poured downhill

  4. Apropos to the subject, I applaud Coach K chastising the Virginia kid for taking and making a three-point shot during the last few seconds of a game the Cavaliers had already locked up.
    Sportsmanship as I learned it is sadly missing nowadays from high school on up. ESPN was wrong in promoting Bautittsa’s showing off.

  5. Mony…

    Rich Eisen, formerly of ESPN, tells the story that when he was approached by the NFL Network to be the face of their media outlet, he would only do so if they wouldn’t interfere with the way he told the news. He wanted to stand by his journalistic merit and criticize the league, on their own network, if he saw fit.

    They agreed.

    Now, ten years or however long it’s been later, I can’t say whether Eisen, and the league for that matter, have held true to their promises.

    Clearly, ESPN has an agenda. They pay good money to broadcast the leagues they cover so there is a definite conflict of interest.

    But hey, ESPN isn’t the only network these days reported slanted stories so why only complain about them, right?

  6. Bets…

    I think that’s fair.

    Retribution is and has always been part of the game. The only problem is a batter better have damn quick reflexes to get the hell out of the way of a rising fastball.

    I’m not too sure ESPN would be using a splitter to the noggin and a batter hitting the dirt to promo their opening day.

    Too bad, huh?

  7. Al…

    In that particular instance, I can understand showing some emotion.

    I’m not saying do it every damn time but a game-winner, well, that certainly seems cause for celebration.

    Just don’t make a habit of it.

  8. Coach…

    I heard Coach K apologized for something but I didn’t get the context. Makes sense now.

    Hey, Spurrier used to run up the score with his second stringers. It made him a few enemies in the SEC.

    Let’s see what happens the next time Duke plays UVA.

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