Bat Flips, Showboating and Baseball’s Unwritten Rules

There’s no sound in the world like the crack a baseball makes on the sweet spot of my maple Marucci. You blink on contact. The immediate roar of the crowd lifts your sights to see where the ball is going. Imagine the feeling of watching it land in the seats. How would you feel? What would you do?

There was no script. I didn’t plan it. It just happened.

I flipped my bat.

José Bautista – Joey “Flipping” Bats
The Player’s Tribune (Nov. 15, 2015)

Ahhh the bat flip – love it or hate it. Whether you consider it showboating or celebrating with passion, one could say it’s the centerpiece in the debate between old school “playing the game right” and new school “making baseball fun again”. I’ll state right off the bat, I’m in the camp that thinks baseball is already fun, but I’m also a big fan of the bat flip. We’ll get back to that in a minute.

Before there were mega stadiums and multi-million dollar contracts, baseball was considered a gentleman’s game. In the early years, gameplay exhibited a spirit of gentlemanly sportsmanship. However, in the late 1800’s the sport became more professional and the players started earning money. Shocking, I know, but apparently money became a motivator in changing the tone of the game. Rough play, cheating and showboating worked their way into the sport. Presently, these three things have manifested in brawls, PEDs and the bat flip.

Rougned Odor, of the Texas Rangers, clearly stated how he felt about José Bautista’s bat flip.

Along with the numerous rules on the books, no sport has more unwritten rules than baseball. These rules have traveled down through the generations. You know the ones I’m talking about, no bunting to break up a no-hitter, no stealing a base when you’re walloping the other team and if you hit a home run, you put your head down, run those bases and no celebrating. These are just a small sampling of the unwritten rules the players adhere to in differing degrees today. The difference now is, players are no longer responsible for policing the rules. Today, Major League Baseball polices the game.

Many of these rules, to modern day fans, may seem overly sensitive. Perhaps less respecting the integrity of the game and more let’s not hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m looking at you MadBum! It’s no slight against you, your family and all you hold dear when an opposing player pops up and shows frustration. So, simmer down big guy.

Yasiel Puig and Madison Bumgarner “discuss” playing the game right.

Today with the ever expanding rule book the umpires issue warnings and ejections as needed for infractions. The MLB handles the enforcement with wide-ranging penalties, fines and suspensions.

Despite these ramifications, lines are still crossed and players face on-field repercussions. Consequently, most of these repercussions result from the perception of showing up the pitcher.

For instance, two sure-fire ways to enrage opposing pitchers is admiring your home run and the slow home run trot. The debate lives on whether New York YankeeBabe Ruth, did the major in your face move by calling his shot off Charlie Root of the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series. The players on the Cubs bench, along with the fans, were razzing Ruth mercilessly. As the legendary story goes, Ruth pointed to the center-field wall declaring his intent, and went on to hit one of the greatest home runs in history.

What do you think, was he calling it?

For the record, I like to believe he was calling it. Because that’s a boss move and the Bambino was the boss.

So, back to bat flips – with discretion, I support them 100%. As a fan, they’re fun to watch. I enjoy seeing a player caught up in the excitement and passion of the game and, come on, a tiny bit of taunting never hurt anyone. These players should be allowed to show some personality, if taken too far, they’ll be reigned in by the other team, and often, they’re own.

Naturally, there is a time and place for bat flips. Extra-innings walk-off grand slam – flip it. Home run that propels you into the postseason or championship – you flip that bat like a gold medal winning USA gymnast.

“David Ortiz does the same bat flip after every home run. He carries a Mariachi band around the bases with him every time he hits one. But it’s OK because he’s Big Papi.”
~Brandon McCarthy via ESPN.com

Dodgers Ranked High in ESPN Early 2017 Power Rankings

So, just choose your flips wisely – a badly timed flip, can lead to a plunk in the hip. Choose wisely.

“As long as nothing’s done maliciously to offend the opposing team,” A.J. Ellis said. “If it’s only done in genuine excitement to what’s accomplished for your own team, I have no issue in any way with people celebrating.” ~A.J. Ellis via LA Times

Up until this year, Yasiel Puig bat flipped on home runs, pop-ups and once, I think, even on a check swing. But then he stated, “I want to show American baseball that I’m not disrespecting the game” and he gave up his trademark bat flip. Subsequently, his game fell off, his injuries persisted, his joy diminished and now he’s playing in the minors. Sure, none of these things are due to lack of bat flips, but perhaps like Sampson cutting his hair, losing the bat flip caused Puig to lose his mojo.

Bring back the bat flip, Yasiel, and get back into the game.

imageNoteworthy in regards to bat flips upsetting pitchers, there is no more prolific bat flipper than one-time Dodger, current Diamondback pitcher, Zack Greinke. The fact that he often follows the flip with a little smirk can’t go unnoticed either. Since there are more good hitting pitchers now, maybe they’ll be less sensitive to the bat flip, especially since they probably want to do it too. So, if a pitcher bat flips, doesn’t that make it a bit more acceptable?

In conclusion, baseball rules are fine, but let’s be careful not to water down the game too much. I fully support protecting players from harm, but on the other side of that, it’s a sport… at its core it’s entertainment. There is no reason to homogenize these players into one personality. They’re human and they have emotions, showing them shouldn’t be a crime and makes the game more exciting. I’m in the camp that respects the integrity of the game, but also supports keeping it “fun”. And in my humble opinion, bat flips and a bit of personality are just good, clean fun.

So, flip on, boys! Flip on!

A quick polling of the Dodger faithful shows you’re a fairly bat flip friendly crowd.


As always, Go Dodgers!

Baseball Is The Most Unpredictable Sport

Jody Wahl

Jody was born and raised in Southern California. She currently splits her time between CA and CO. She has been a true blue Dodger fan since birth. She also roots heartily for the LA Kings and the Green Bay Packers. Jody firmly believes the NL should not adopt the DH. Let 'em hit.


  1. hey Jody… 

    While I don’t always like bat flipping, you’re right, it is a bit of an ego boost, and it enthralls most fans after a home run! 
    Short of MLB making a celebration penalty rule like the NFL does, I say let’s keep it going! 


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