Boston outfielder Jonny Gomes says, "It's like the military situation: The stars on your chest and the stripes on your arms are symbols of something important, something earned. We don't wear them; we have them. The game gives you that, not a person, not a committee. The more you move up the ranks, the less the unwritten rules apply to you."
And yet today, the young guys are celebrating their fifth career home run as if it's No. 500. The Dodgers' Yasiel Puig, for example, has been known to celebrate a meaningless extra-base hit like it's a Game 7 home run.
"But I understand it," says Gomes. "You have every right to say, 'Hey, I've been waiting since I was 4 years old to hit a home run in the major leagues, and you want me to hurry up?' But when a young guy hits his third major league homer and just cruises around the bases when he's up 10-0, now he has self-proclaimed stars and stripes on his shoulders."
What would Gomes tell that kid the next time he goes to the plate?
"DUCK!" he says.
VETERAN NATIONALS infielder Greg Dobbs says, "When you pimp a home run, or flip a bat egregiously ... I'm not saying you have to put your personality in the shadows, but how far do you take it? When you do that, act selfishly, you are disrespecting the founders of the game, the guys that came before you. When you hit a homer, flip your bat, walk 10 feet toward first base and stare at the pitcher, showing bravado, you are disrespecting the other team, your team and the name on the front of jersey. That's the worst thing you can do."
And if a young National does that?
"I'd air him out," Dobbs says. "I'd tell him, 'That's not how we do things.' When you can't control yourself, you're not setting an example for children. You're not being a representative of the game. You're not representing those bigger than you. It's not about you."
Of "Cadillac-ing" it around the bases in a 10-0 game, McGehee says, "You better not! You are going to get yourself smoked -- or worse, get someone else smoked. You are an idiot, and someone hits [Marlins star Giancarlo] Stanton, breaks his hand and he's out three weeks, that's on you. He's hurt because you are selfish. We're here to protect people from being selfish."
Tigers reliever Phil Coke says, "You're up 10-0, and you hit one that just goes over the outfield wall, and you're a fresh guy -- you're going to get thrown at if you pimp it around the bases. I didn't see it; it happened 3,000 miles away from us, but [the A's Yoenis] Cespedes did that two years ago. You think, 'Hey, Bro, this isn't bush league. Respect me.' You don't want to dance on Mariano Rivera's toes when you've had a cup of coffee in the big leagues. He deserves respect. He commanded respect because he showed respect."
Hunter says, "If a teammate of mine did something like that, I would light his ass up. I'd tell him, 'Don't you ever do that again!' I would tell him that because I love him; he's a teammate. And I wouldn't want him to get a bad reputation in the game, because he would."
Last year, the Brewers' Carlos Gomez hit a home run off the Braves' Paul Maholm. Gomez says the Braves had thrown at him intentionally several times that season, so he reacted by admiring the home run, flipping the bat, making a slow run to first base, then screaming at Maholm all the way around the bases. Ten feet before he reached home plate, he was confronted by Braves catcher Brian McCann, which nearly started a major brawl.