Last night Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman recorded his ninth save of the season when he struck out Martin Maldonado with a 99 m.p.h. fastball. Upon finishing his achievement, Chapman decided to celebrate by performing two somersaults towards home plate. He didn't scream or yell or thump his chest, he just lightly rolled forward, and when he came back up he had a big smile on his face. He had accomplished something, and he felt great about it, so he decided to somersault. No big deal.
Except Chapman's celebration apparently was a very big deal to many of the humorless stooges who populate the baseball rank and file, namely those on Chapman's own team. Following the game, Fox Sports reported that multiple Reds players and coaches frowned upon Chapman's "antics."
From the report:
The Reds reacted with concern – that Chapman might injure himself, offend the opposition, or perhaps both. Manager Dusty Baker, who saw the tumbling exhibition only on video replay, said pitching coach Bryan Price addressed the incident with Chapman after the game.
By the time Chapman returned to the clubhouse, the smile he wore on the field was gone. He rested his forehead on a bat as he sat silently at his locker. He declined comment through a team official, saying he was not "mentally ready" to take questions from the media. Veterans Joey Votto and Jay Bruce spoke with Chapman quietly for several minutes after the game.
Sigh. What the hell is wrong with people? Aroldis Chapman, who is a grown man getting paid to play a game, celebrated in a child-like fashion after demonstrating once again that he is very good at playing said game. Apparently, Chapman's decision to have a bit of fun while playing a game was grounds for being scolded by teammates and coaches to the point that he ended up staring blankly at the ground like a kid who just watched his dog get hit by a car.
Aroldis Chapman should be allowed to do all the somersaults he wants after earning a save, because when he pitches he's not just throwing a baseball really hard, he's unlocking his body's full potential. There are very few people on earth who can throw a ball with as much velocity and accuracy as Chapman can (according to FanGraphs, his career average fastball velocity is 98 m.p.h.). Yet those few are expected to nod along quietly with sedated reverence after such a tremendous physical accomplishment? Please! If you can geek out after an alley-oop or a bone-crunching tackle, you can do the same after a game-ending strikeout.
So keep throwing hard, Aroldis Chapman, and keep somersaulting if you want to, because there aren't many people who can do what you do, and that's something worth celebrating.