Mike Trout has finally weighed in on the most pressing baseball culture issue of these modern, new media days: to bat flip or not to bat flip. The bat flip has become a lightning rod for hot takes and Twitter wars galore, the debate that spawns endless think pieces from mainstream fish wrap and niche blogs alike. It is a war between the brazen, nonchalant New School and the curmudgeonly, unwritten rules-worshiping Old School. Well, at least those are the battle lines typically drawn by those writing said think pieces, and while there is probably a large middle ground of baseball fans who would summarize their thoughts on the bat flip as "yeah, don't care either way", it's still fun to see where people's allegiances fall.
I'm guessing Mike Trout was asked about bat flips because of the recent fanning of flames by one prototypical Old Schooler, Goose Gossage, who let his opinions fly unfettered recently and once again, baseball media was in the midst of an anti-"showing the pticher up" feeding frenzy. While I am one of the baseball fans that lands in the Utterly Indifferent category, I do see what's so laughably backwards and joykilling about Gossage's statements. A good bat flip at the right moment(see: Jose Bautista in a freakin' playoff game for the all time best example of bat flipping) is an injection of pure joy and elation in a game that can be seen as milquetoast by even the most ardent students of the game. I get it; bat flips are fun, and like Bryce Harper tried to get across recently, that type of stuff could be useful in getting more eyeballs, and more importantly, more youngsters into America's Pastime(if it can even call itself that at this point).
Bryce Harper's resoundingly pro-bat flip and pro-showing up comments were coming from the mouth of one of the games premier, young stars, so it only makes sense that you try to gauge the opinion of the league's OTHER huge mega-star, Mike Trout. Here's what Mike Trout had to say in a piece from the LA Times today:
"As a pitcher, I'd be pretty upset," Trout said.
And would Trout say that such a demonstrative batter would be showing up the pitcher?
"It definitely would be," the 24-year-old said. Trout said there is no chance he would flip his bat after a home run, even if he might try it during batting practice every now and then.
"We mess around in the cage and stuff," he said. "During the game, I just hit the ball and go.
"I go out there and try to respect the game. I go out there and play. My parents always taught me to be humble."
I don't know about you, but I definitely didn't need to read this to ascertain his thoughts on that type of flashy, schoolyard baseball hi-jinks. It's just not the way Mike Trout lives his life, let alone plays the game of baseball. I've had the amazing pleasure of talking to Trout twice in my life; once was over the phone, and once was in person. Being a gigantic fan of the Angels, I've also watched or read just about every piece of Mike Trout media there is, seen or read all his interviews, etc. I am well versed in the tao of Mike Trout, and he's just not the Bryce Harper type, much to the dismay of journalists and bloggers everywhere who are constantly looking for the latest pro-athlete nugget to write about.
I remember a few years back, after Sam Miller had his Trout profile in ESPN Magazine, there was a conversation between baseball writers on Twitter regarding Trout and how "boring" he is. I saw similar things about the 24 year old phenom from New Jersey last year, too. I'll admit, I've said similar things about him myself when people ask me what he was like in person. I tell them that he's not the guy you're going to get an amazingly hilarious or witty quote from that references a recent meme, and you're not going to get him talking opinions on politics of any kind, and you're not going to see him talking a whole lot of trash on opposing players or teams in the locker room after the game. The only thing you're going to get is perhaps the best baseball we've ever seen played in the history of the game. That last sentence probably sounds ridiculous, but it's supposed to; writers and social media accounts everywhere bemoan the fact that he WONT give you that viral sound byte, instead you ONLY get the best baseball player ever.
Mike Trout is far from boring, he just saves every ounce of excitement and electricity for the field, and if people complain about that, or think he's being old and stuffy by not jumping on the same side of the bat flip debate as Bryce Harper, then perhaps you need to latch on to a different sport. Mike Trout, as far as he can tell, wont be flipping his bat any time soon, so I guess we'll just have to settle for the once-in-a-millennium play on the field and a quiet, humble and well-mannered guy off the field. You aren't going to hear any complaints from me.