Carrying the Bat to First: Yay or Nay?
In last night's world series game 6, Astros Alex Bregman went deep in the bottom of the first. The home run put Houston up by one at the time. He performed a new kind of celebration, carrying his bat down to first and giving it to the first base coach.
In The 5th inning, Nationals' Juan Soto hit a long blast. It broke up a 2-2 tie. And in a likely retaliatory move, also carried the bat down to first.
This was the first I've ever seen of someone carrying the bat to the coach at first. I didn't really care for it, and give Bregman a firm Nay, while giving Soto a big Yay. Allow me to explain.
I'm fairly old school when it comes to baseball. Celebrations can be fun, but I quickly turn on them the second they get excessive. Plays should be able to have fun though. This postseason has seen a trend of every single home run being celebrated with an elaborate handshake or dance move once the hitter returns to the dugout. Overly planned celebrations just rub me the wrong way. They are tacky and lack a certain sense of joy. Emotions revealed in the moment, like Dexter Fowler's turn and pump in the 2016 world series game 7, or Jose Bautista's walk-off flip are much more raw and inspiring.
I feel like Bregman planned his bat carry. My hunch is that he thought that if he had a big hit in a potential clinching game, an elaborate celebration might make the highlight reels for years to come. But for someone who's just now hitting .245 in the playoffs this year, I think he should be focusing on helping his team win instead of some show off celebration. Really, carrying the bat down to first is showing up the pitcher. Why start that? The Astros would not score any more runs that night. Arguably Bregman fired up the Nats, who decisively forced a game 7. Postgame, Bregman would apologize for letting his emotions get the best of him. So maybe it wasn't as preplanned as I thought.
Juan Soto's retaliatory blast: love it. I really enjoy when someone trolls the opposition perfectly. His home run was longer and more clutch. It was a smooth twist of the knife. Yes, he probably preplanned that, but it was perfectly timed.
I'm fine with celebrations and such, but the reason I bristle at what Bregman did is it just turned all of baseball into a bunch of giant man babies. I listened to his entire subsequent at-bat, and all the radio crew could talk about was whether Strasburg would make him wear one *insert eyeroll here*. I was glad he didn't and glad Soto got to take revenge in a healthier way later. Stuff like this also always seems to backfire on Bregman, like when he trolled Nate Eovaldi pregame on Instagram last year before he started Game 3 the ALCS, and the pitcher wound up holding the Astros to 2 runs over 6 innings before Astros closer Robert Osuna got blown up for 5 runs in the 8th. You'd think he might've learned his lesson by now!
I didn't hate when Bregman did it but didn't love it either. It was a HUGE swing of the bat, but like Pronk said it felt premeditated. If you're going to do a premeditated celebration then go 'FULL T.O.', pull out a Sharpie, autograph it, and give it to a fan.
Otherwise, it just looks weak and made Bregman look like a tool. I loved that Soto copied and instead of fanning the flames he said it looked fun and wanted to try it. :) That said, I used to like the Astros but they aren't fun anymore. They're the Yankees now. Boo. Go Washington Walgreens!