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Old school vs. new school: Nats are split on bat flips & celebrations


Old school vs. new school: Nats are split on bat flips & celebrations

Jose Bautista's bat flip in Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS will go down as one of the more memorable moments in recent baseball history, but not all will look back fondly at what some may see as a teaching moment for how not to show your opponent up.

Baseball has long presented a dynamic unique in the world of sports: the never-ending debate of celebrating individuality vs. the unwritten rules and acting like you've been there before. It has become even more prevalent in recent years with a new generation of players entering the game that know no other way. MLB may be behind other sports in the practice of showboating, but even longtime veterans of the game can sense the paradigm may be shifting.

"I was taught not to do that. I was taught to be humble externally by Hank Aaron," Nats manager Dusty Baker said. "Back in our time, you would have gotten drilled had you celebrated the way they do now. But it looks like today all the kids are doing it. I had to get on my son because one day I was at his game and he was doing the James Harden ‘feeding himself’ or something. That’s what they see. That’s what the kids see. I don’t know if I’m going to have to change my outlook on it or not."

Baker admits the game has changed, if even to a slight degree. That is evident in the differing opinions among players. Some think celebrations should be encouraged, while others believe there is no place for them in baseball.

Reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper, for one, thinks a little personality can be a good thing.

"I think there’s a time and a place for it, definitely. I think players should be able to do what they want," he said. "Everybody says there are unwritten rules in baseball and it’s definitely in the game. We all understand that, but you have to enjoy it and have fun as well. This game is all about having fun and all about personality... You try to go about it the right way every single day, but also throw in a little flair there every once in a while. It’s just part of the game."

Third baseman Anthony Rendon, a 25-year-old entering his fourth MLB season, also finds celebrations to be okay when the game calls for it.

"I think [the whole dynamic] is fun because it adds character to the game. It’s not like golf where you gotta be quiet when somebody’s hitting. That’s why I love the Waste Management [Phoenix Open], you can cheer your tail off and yell at those guys when they’re about to tee off. I feel like that’s how it should be," he said.

"I wouldn’t say [celebrations should be] encouraged, but to an extent. If you do something great for your team, if you get a big hit or have a big strikeout, go ahead. That’s your business. If somebody doesn’t like it, then that’s their business to do something about it. That’s a part of the game. We’re all grown men out here." 

Center fielder Ben Revere sides with Harper and Rendon, and he has an interesting take given he was on the same Blue Jays team as Bautista. He loved Bautista's reaction, but wonders how he would have felt if he were on the Rangers - who Bautista homered against - instead.

"I’ll say this, if you hit a 600 ft. home run, you can pimp it all you want. If you get mad, then that’s on you. But if you hit a home run and it goes maybe to the second or third row and you bat flip, I don’t know," Revere said.

"If he’s my teammate, of course I’m going to support him. But of course if I was on the Rangers, I’d be like ‘Oh man, someone’s going to get ticked. That’s way too much.’ As a teammate, of course you’re going to get pumped up by it."

Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman, two veterans on the Nationals, share the old school mindset. They don't believe baseball should follow football, baseball and hockey, which can sometimes offer individual celebrations as noteworthy as highlight reel plays.

"This game is a team game. It’s not golf or tennis. The less look-at-me attitudes, I think the better," Strasburg said. "I think it’s important to remember that if you are a professional and there’s a lot of kids out there that don’t have the ability that you have, I think those kids need to learn how to respect the game. They need to learn how to respect their opponent. I think if you can do those things and act like you’ve done it before, I think it will go a long way."

"If you can imagine, I’m more of the boring, old school guy. I know everyone is shocked to hear me say that," Zimmerman said.

Zim, though, said he's okay with those who celebrate if they can back it up.

"I think that’s the way that a lot of sports are going. My only thing is that if you’re going to be like that, be like that all the time. Be like that when you win, and be like that when you lose. Be like that when you have a two-week stretch and you hit .400 and you hit six or seven home runs. Then also be like that when you have a two-week stretch when you’re hitting .150 and haven’t had an extra-base hit. That’s my only problem with it. If you’re going to be like that, just be consistent. That’s part of the reason why I was taught to be the way I am. It’s a lot easier to stay even-keel when you’re a little more low-key instead of always being so high-strung. It’s really hard to stay that way when things aren’t going your way," he explained.

Shortstop Danny Espinosa also has a conditional take on the matter.

"I enjoy it. I enjoy celebrating and everything, but at the same time I don’t have the intent of hitting a home run or something and showing the pitcher up. I don’t like to do that. That’s not who I am. Unless it was someone who had done it to you before," he said.

The debate between new school and old school isn't going away anytime soon, but it will be interesting to see the effect younger players and their individual styles have on the future of baseball. Harper, for instance, is one of the young faces in baseball and has a profound influence on kids playing the game. Will players like him usher in a new era, and how will he see the game when he becomes one of its elder statesmen? 

Baseball has a long history and won't change overnight, but the undercurrents of a new approach may be gaining momentum.

[RELATED: Mike Rizzo goes 1-on-1 with CSN to talk Dusty, Harper and Giolito]

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Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

USA Today Sports

Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

Watching Max Scherzrer rack up Ks during a game is a usual sight for fans.

Dancing is not.

On Wednesday while the Sports Junkies were broadcasting at Nats Spring Training in West Palm Beach, we got a taste of what the back-to-back Cy Young Award winner has to offer on the dance floor. 

With just about a week left until their season kicks off, manager Dave Martinez hired a DJ for the day's workout, saying he wanted to "turn it up a notch." 

Well he turned it up a few too many notches, causing the back end of the complex where the Junkies were broadcasting to lose power.

While the Junkies were put in a pickle because of said DJ, we were able to get a glance of Scherzer dancing to Drakes' "God's Plan."


It's nice to see the usually lazer-focused pitcher let loose.

While Scherzer's dance moves didn't actually cause the Junkies to lose power, it's nice to think they were too much for the ballpark to handle. 

106.7 The Fans Sports Junkies simulcasts on NBC Sports Washington every weekday morning from 6:00 to 10:00 am ET. You can stream the Sports Junkies right here

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats.