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Don Mattingly on the reaction to Puig and Gomez: “we have to loosen up a bit”

May 12, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Mets Getty Images

Don Mattingly was never a showboat as a player. He was about as straight shooting, business-is-business kinds of guys out there. As a manager he still is. I mean, you don’t get the nickname Donnie Baseball for nothing. He’s the epitome of a “baseball guy,” which is a descriptor most people around the game use to describe people who take the game seriously and never ruffle people’s feathers.

But he has a supreme feather-ruffler playing for him in Yasiel Puig. And he’s well-aware of another feather-ruffler in Carlos Gomez. And over the weekend he said something which a lot of other baseball guys should probably listen to: relax, fellas:

“Guys play with emotion, and that can get on your nerves,” said Mattingly. “Gomez plays with a lot of fire, and it rubs people the wrong way. Every team has guys that bug you. It’s just the way it is. Puig is a guy on our team, he draws as much attention as anybody. But it’s a little silly. You can still be respectful of your opponent and carry yourself with class.

“I do think we have to loosen up a bit or there will be more and more times that guys take offense. I’m not talking about the Giants. It’s all around baseball.”

Sure, he’s obviously defending his own guy here, as these comments came the day after Puig and Madison Bumgarner jawed at each other when Bumgarner took offense at a Puig bat flip. But including Gomez in it too suggests that this is something Mattingly believes even when it doesn’t apply just to a Dodgers player.

And he’s right. Looking to take offense at even the most insignificant of deviations from baseball’s conventions of formality is “all around baseball.” I have no idea whether that strain of no-fun-allowed thinking has increased or if it has merely been flushed out into the open by a couple of flamboyant players, but it’s such a drag.

And if someone as conventional as Don Mattingly is saying it, it’s probably worth listening to.

  1. denny65 - May 12, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Baseball should be “fun?”

    Wow, stop the presses, get me the re-write desk.

    • okwhitefalcon - May 12, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      Part of the fun of baseball for me is the theatre of the game, reactions to actions and wondering if something may happen in response to a (perceived) show of disrespect or lack of decorum.

      Bat flipping is fun to watch, so is watching someone get bent in lieu of said bat flippage.

      • skids003 - May 12, 2014 at 4:23 PM

        “Too many guys looking to take offense.” Welcome to the new America, where our PC police make sure they are always offended at something.

      • sportsfan18 - May 12, 2014 at 5:13 PM

        the absolute truth…

        and the sad part is that so MANY people don’t realize they contribute to it…

        they agree with stopping something because they agree with it and it bothers them…

        but when things like this KEEP happening, it’s simply a matter of time until something they like and do makes the list and becomes politically incorrect and NOW they DO care.

        people fail to realize that it is the PRINCIPLE of things. you have to put up with things in this country you don’t like to be able to do some of the things you do like to do.

        people now cry, moan and whine and many things have become politically correct.

        it’s like a snowball rolling downhill, it’s getting too big, too many things are politically incorrect and idiots don’t wise up until something they like to do makes the list and then wonder how in the world that happened without realizing that their behavior all along helped lead to it…

        makes those kind of people happy though, they get to gripe and complain at what others do and then they get to gripe and complain when their antics become politically correct and they rant about how dumb people are without realizing it was idiots like themselves that caused them to be in the boat they are in…

        WORSE, there will be many folks who read what I wrote and have NO CLUE what I’m talking about…

      • infieldhit - May 12, 2014 at 6:23 PM

        The new America? Players were way, way more sensitive about perceived slights in the pre-“PC” days.

      • Reflex - May 13, 2014 at 12:37 AM

        sportsfan – There is a really simple way to always be on the right side of the PC bandwagon: Treat others with the utmost respect unless they specifically and as an individual do something to earn your disrespect.

        I learned this around the time of kindergarten. I haven’t seen anything described as “PC” that does not still fit into that golden rule. And occasionally, I find out that something I do is actually disrespectful to others even though I was not aware of it. Being a considerate human being, I change my behavior because that is the respectful thing to do.

        Nothing ‘political’ about it. Plenty of ‘correct’ however…

  2. stephenacosta91 - May 12, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    As much as people don’t like showboats and some players attitudes it puts fans in the stands. Those people may not be cheering for the showboats but they want to see what they will do next. If you like baseball and or the Dodgers you need to check out this top rated fan blog.

    • gothapotamus90210 - May 12, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      Unwritten Blogging Rule: don’t spam. Sheriff McCann will be in touch.

  3. happytwinsfan - May 12, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    Darn right no fun allowed. If players get to be rich AND happy, that’s just not fair.

  4. dilwad - May 12, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Save the chest pounding and the jersey name pointing for the NFL and NBA. This is why I like baseball. There are consequences for showing up another player or showboating. A little chin music please?

    • paperlions - May 12, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      Is any celebration “showing up another player” in your world? Because if it is, there are a lot of guys that are showing up other players.

      There is a huge chasm between celebrating and showing up (i.e. disrespecting) an opponent…and flipping a bat while watching the ball sail out of the yard is on the celebration side. Now, if a guy is staring at the pitcher as he flips his bat or if he squawks about it going around the bases, that’s different….but a guy should be able to flip a bat without the pitcher getting his panties in a twist….especially when pitchers celebrate outs FAR more often than hitters celebrate hits…which is funny, considering how much easier it is to get a guy out than it is to get a hit.

  5. rocinante rides again - May 12, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Baseball is fun as it is, I don’t understand how watching showboating is supposed to constitute fun. Never liked it in other sports, and it’s a reason why I continue to watch baseball but not a lot of other sports. I like the “let your actions do the talking” code. If the new wave of journos who bemoan the uptightnes of baseball and want to welcome NBA-style showboating, then it should go back to pitchers being able to drill batters and let the game regulate it’s own.

    • tedwmoore - May 12, 2014 at 3:41 PM

      Bat flipping is an action, and it does some talking on your behalf.

  6. neoshweaty - May 12, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Want to make sure people don’t showboat? Don’t let them hit home runs. That’s it. Do better and stop being so sensitive.

    It’s a game. Have fun.

    • infieldhit - May 12, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      Don’t let other players get the upper hand against you? It sounds so simple. Someone’s always going to win a pitcher-batter duel, and he shouldn’t exactly have free reign to do backflips or dances every time.

      I’d like to know what Mattingly’s own pitchers would think if an opponent got a little too theatrical against them.

  7. illuminancer - May 12, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    It wasn’t the bat flip that pissed Bum off, it was the slow stroll around the bases. I suspect it was also that he was pimping his home run right after the Giants got the news that one of their best players is going to be out for at least six weeks because Paul Maholm doesn’t know where the ball is going.

    If Puig wants to show off and make a major production out of every at bat, then fine. However, I’m not sure why it’s wrong for other players to express their feelings that he’s being an obnoxious tool.

    • koufaxmitzvah - May 12, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      Thank God there’s a reason for Madison Bumgarner behaving like a whiny brat in the school hallway. By the way, your boy Sergio was quite exuberant yesterday after striking out Puig in the 9th. I guess there’s a reason for that, and that it’s the Dodgers who made him do it, too, right?

      I’m sure you think it’s fine if other posters consider you an obnoxious tool. I mean, we’re looking for parallels, right?

      • illuminancer - May 12, 2014 at 4:35 PM

        And people accuse Giants fans of being thin-skinned! See, I wouldn’t have said you’re an obnoxious tool because I don’t know you, and while I enjoy the rivalry, I prefer not to make it personal. But I guess you feel otherwise, and that’s fine.

        All I’m saying is that if Puig’s exuberance is okay because he’s “passionate” and “exciting”, then it should also be okay for other players to express their opinions and show their passion.

      • koufaxmitzvah - May 13, 2014 at 9:43 AM

        I just think obnoxious tool is a weak and cheap insult of Puig. I’m just beating you with your stick. I agree I should stop doing that.

      • koufaxmitzvah - May 13, 2014 at 9:44 AM

        As for the second part, I actually have no problem with the Giants exuberance, and I don’t think the Dodgers had a problem with it. Mad Bum should stop having problems with the Dodgers exuberance and let the game go on.

    • hcf95688 - May 12, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      Roid Rage set Bumgarner off.

  8. raysfan1 - May 12, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    A bat flip is hardly in the same category as chest thumping in terms of trying to make oneself the center of attention. It’s definitely not taunting the opponent or even honestly showing the opponent up. Comparing that to the showboat antics one sees in football and basketball is nonsense.

    Take the oh-so-genteel sport of golf…how many people get really mad at Tiger Woods’ fist pump after a great putt? …or 30 years ago when Chi Chi Rodriguez would brandish his putter like a sword? Nobody I know, and no one should.

    One more time:
    “The man says play ball, not work ball.” –Willie Stargell

    • raysfan1 - May 12, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      Watching the ball sail over the fence and jogging slowly around the bases is not taunting either.

      • paperlions - May 12, 2014 at 5:12 PM

        Exactly. Heaven forbid a guy enjoy hitting a HR…nope, you should feel and act the same after a HR as you do after a pop out or a 27 hopper that finds the hole.

  9. rcali - May 12, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    Agreed. In someone else’s words “Lighten up Francis”

  10. nickmiller63 - May 12, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    Giants: 24-14.

  11. davidmartin1979 - May 12, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    My favorite line in this article is “But including Gomez in it too suggests that this is something Mattingly believes even when it doesn’t apply just to a Dodgers player.” If that were the case we would have seen this after the Gomez incident.

    • Craig Calcaterra - May 12, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      Dodgers reporters aren’t going to ask him about something not related to a Dodgers player. Mattingly didn’t issue a press release here. This came in response to questions.

  12. beachnbaseball - May 12, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    I loved this bat flip after a HR against the Giants that turned out to be a not so deep (less than 300 feet) fly out to right. And he was wearing Jackie Robinson’s # 42. Hey, Pug……Jackie would have run it out. He embarrassed himself and it was a good laugh.

  13. nickmiller63 - May 12, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    If Puig can flip his bat, Bumgarner can flip his lid. Just that much more entertainment, right?

  14. smcgaels1997 - May 12, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    Says the guy who’s got try star player who’s a punk…I bet his tune would’ve been different if Posey acted like that. Easy to say when he’s your guy and you haven’t been able to control him

  15. Francisco (FC) - May 12, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    No Fun allowed
    You’re not our crowd
    Obey the rules
    unwritten true
    Keep off the mound
    showboating clowns
    You’re not our crowd
    No Fun allowed

  16. bh192012 - May 12, 2014 at 6:51 PM

    Who has to loosen up? Didn’t look like any big deal to me from either side.

  17. chip56 - May 13, 2014 at 12:04 AM

    Mattingly is correct. You can have fun and respect your opposition. I don’t care about bat flips or any of that. Where Gomez looses me is that when someone takes umbrage with his styling his first reaction is to start a brawl.

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