Friday, December 15, 2017
Sports

Schmidt: Bautista 'crossed the line'

You can add Mike Schmidt to the list of Hall of Famers not impressed with Jose Bautista's home run celebration.

Schmidt, 66, writing a commentary for the Associated Press outlining the contrasts of what's acceptable celebratory behavior and what's not, said Bautista "crossed the line" with his emphatic bat flip after hitting a towering home run during Game 5 of the Division Series last season in Toronto against the Rangers that ultimately assured the Blue Jays their first ALCS berth since 1993.

Schmidt, the former Phillies great, wrote:

"Why do so many players today feel the need to embellish their success with some sort of hand signal to the dugout? What got more attention in last year's postseason than a bat toss by Jose Bautista? Pointing to the sky is child's play compared to that moment in the postseason on national TV. A flagrant disrespect of the opponent like that would have gotten somebody hurt back in the day."

He went on:

"That's the problem with these onfield displays, it shows a lack of respect for your opponent and the history of the game. But today there is a faction of players that say damn respect — that guy on the mound gestures to the dugout when he strikes me out, so why can't I flip my bat on a home run? That's a good point, I guess it does go both ways. But who wouldn't agree Bautista crossed the line?"

The wave of criticism Bautista has dealt with for the celebration prompted the All-Star slugger to present his side in an essay for the Players' Tribune in November titled "Are You Flipping Kidding Me?"

Bautista cited his behavior to being in the heat of the moment. The Jays were in the playoffs for the first time since 1993, and he was at the plate with two runners on and two outs with the game on the line.

Schmidt recognized that he is the subject of one of the game's most recognizable celebrations: His high-stepping down the first-base line after hitting his 500th home run in 1987.

"As for me, the most emotion I ever displayed on the field was a little running in place out of the box on my 500th home run. My home run trots were over quickly and without fanfare."

He continued:

"Baseball demands a certain level of dignity toward the opponent. It's part of its charm. Sure, you have to be tough and stand up for yourself, but only when the line is crossed."

Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench also said players wouldn't have gotten away with that type of behavior years ago. "You can flip your bat," the former Reds great said. "We had guys do that … and the next time up there was chin music. And if you play that way, that's fine."

The Bautista talk was ignited by Hall of Fame reliever and former Yankees great Goose Gossage, who lit into Bautista, Yoenis Cespedes and baseball "nerds" earlier this month for their onfield antics.

SANDOVAL HURT: Third baseman Pablo Sandoval has lower-back stiffness and was not in the Red Sox's starting lineup Thursday against the Mets. Sandoval was injured diving for a ball off the bat of Miami's Giancarlo Stanton on Tuesday. Manager John Farrell said he does not think Sandoval will require a stint on the disabled list.

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