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"Old school" Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt hates bat flips

Mike Schmidt doesn't think much of players having fun.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports


Phillies great and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt grabbed his "old school" No. 2 pencil and faxed in an op-ed to the Associated Press on Thursday, coming out against bat flips and modern players showing too much emotion on the field.

In his op-ed, Schmidt reiterated much of the same old tripe we've heard other "old school" players spout for years, that only minuscule amounts of emotion should ever be seen on the baseball field.

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.

Schmidt specifically noted the famed Jose Bautista bat flip in Game 5 of the classic ALDS series against the Texas Rangers last year. For those of you who don't remember...

Schmidt said...

That's the problem with these on-field 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?

In one breath, Schmidt admits there's a double standard, that pitchers are allowed to be emotional when recording a big out, but in the other, a player like Bautista, who had just hit the biggest home run of his career in a huge game with tremendous emotional swings, "crossed the line."

And just for the record, Schmidt let us know exactly what types of emotion are OK.

They are free to display their passion and emotion with certain boundaries, and many do. But let it be noted, there are still those who subscribe to the notion of respect, so be mindful. The game is hard, very hard, and being disliked by the opponent makes it even harder.

Look, Michael Jack is not alone. Goose Gossage just went on an epic three-day rant against bat flips and flash and flair and Cam Newton and Bryce Harper and everyone else who wants to bring more showmanship into the game. There have been many others. Johnny Bench recently said players should start getting beaned againI even spoke to former Phillie Brett Myers about this very issue last October on my podcast.

But that doesn't mean they're not wrong. It is possible for Hall of Famers who haven't played the game in more than a generation to be wrong about how the game should be played today.

Schmidt's reaction is not surprising. After all, he was one of the most unemotional players the game has ever seen. Consider that this is what Mike Schmidt considers emotion on a baseball field (scroll to the 1:07:33 mark).

"Look at that reaction!" screams the broadcaster. A simple fist pump after a two-run single that put the Phillies up 2-0 in Game 6 of the 1980 World Series. A huge moment and Schmidt didn't even crack a smile.

Of course, as he mentions in his op-ed, he did get admit to getting excited one time. You know, the time he hit his 500th career home run.

But those weren't the only times in his career Schmidt showed some passion. Much like, no, exactly like, Bautista's home run in the ALDS, Mike smoked a go-ahead home run against the Montreal Expos at the end of the 1980 season that helped clinch the National League East for the Phillies.

That was an enthusiastic hand-slap delivered to Pete Rose right in front of that catcher's face. And while it's not quite the same as Bautista's bat flip, it was an overt display of emotion after a huge home run with playoff implications.

Was Schmidt concerned he would show up the pitcher or the catcher there? No, because he was into the moment and delivered what was, up to that point, the biggest home run of his career.

Of course, all of these emotional outbursts were entertaining and humanized Schmidt to Phils fans, because the rest of the time, he appeared to play the game with little joy or excitement.

But there's nothing wrong with that. If that's the way Schmidt wanted to play, that's fine. It is a shame, though, that "old school" guys don't have thick enough skin to realize that culture and society are changing, and that kids are drawn to flair and flash and personality on the field.

And however annoying essays like this are from former players who played the game 30 years ago, it's not really news. It's not even surprising.

Jesse's right. If Rickey Henderson comes out and says Bryce Harper is an idiot, then you've got a hot lead.

But Schmidt was often criticized for playing like a borderline zombie, and while it's not even remotely eye-raising that he's against bat flips and slow home run trots and yelling and gesticulating on the field, it is important to remind some of these "old school" legends that it's the year 2016 and some of these beliefs could be holding the game back.

Times, they are a'changin'.

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