By Erik Lewis, Feature Writer
Wednesday afternoon’s Brewers/Nationals game brought up a point that should be addressed.
Toward the end of the game with the Brewers up 8-2, outfielder Carlos Gomez swung causing his helmet to fly off. This got the attention of MASN announcers Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo (former outfielder for the Giants, Dodgers and A’s). What Santangelo said didn’t make much sense, especially if he knew Gomez the way Brewers fans, or NL Central fans know.
Gomez, much like his NL West counterpart, Yasiel Puig, plays the game the way a kid would – with youthful exuberance and emotions. Playing the game with a lot of passion, whether loud or not, is why Gomez has become successful in the league.
Early on in his career with the New York Mets and Minnesota Twins, Gomez was taught to slap the ball and use his speed. His coaches didn’t think a guy like him could hit the ball hard.
In his three years with the Mets and Twins, Gomez hit just .246 with 12 home runs and 99 RBIs. Clearly being slap-happy wasn’t working.
“They want to take advantage for my ability,” Gomez said in a NJ.com article. “I’m not saying they’re not doing the right stuff. For that time they’re doing good stuff because I’m the fastest guy in the league and every time I bunt it’s a base hit. So I take that way to my real ability and it takes me longer to pack on the strong, the power.”
His first two seasons in Milwaukee were a transition period, though. But since hitting .247 and .225 in those two seasons, Gomez has put together a .282 average with 55 home runs, 165 RBIs, 90 stolen bases and a Gold Glove. He’ll even drop down the occasional bunt, which wreaks havoc on opposing teams because they don’t assume it’s coming now.
After accomplishing all of this, who can blame him for being excited about playing the game? Now, the way he plays has gotten him into some trouble in the past.
This season against the Pirates, Gomez’s lollygagging out of the box after thinking he hit a home run to centerfield irked Gerrit Cole.
But the problem shouldn’t be with players like Gomez and Puig. The problem starts with the league. Baseball has forever been a sport played by gentleman that don’t show emotions, except in rare cases, and even in those cases they are subdued.
“There’s no crying in baseball!” Why not?
Other leagues, like the NBA and NFL, tend to have more players with extravagant personalities so it is accepted, especially in the heat of the moment. There is also more policing by referees in football and basketball than in baseball.
On the other hand, an umpire will throw a player out for throwing a punch or arguing balls/strikes and other calls. As for celebrat
ing…well, that’s on the players, or so it always has been.
In this era of baseball, where so many players worked extremely hard to make it from a place, like the Dominican Republic – playing for sheer love of the game and maybe some money – making it to the big leagues is exciting. Why not show emotion?
Yes, certain things — like showing up a pitcher on a fly-out — are frowned upon. However, being excited after a big hit is nothing to be upset about. If pitchers have an issue, they should
take it up with HR make better pitches.
Batters don’t take it out on pitchers after striking out…at least not very often.
They tend to snap their bats over their knees. After taking a pitch to the back, whether on accident or not, batters usually just shake it off and take their base. Why are pitchers (and other fielders) so sensitive to something like that?
Let the way you play do the talking and forget about what people think. That’s what Gomez is doing, which is a motto he reiterated following the game.
“I’m not apologizing for nothing I did today,” Gomez said following the brawl in Pittsburgh. “This is my job, I’ve been doing it for eight years like that. They know I play like that. It’s not to disrespect nobody.”
“I heard something I don’t like,” Gomez said. “I don’t think he’s the one who tells me what I have to do. I don’t tell him what he needs to do to pitch.”
If that means taking a few punches or pitches to the back occasionally, so be it. Gomez won’t stop playing the game he loves his way, though.