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Saltalamacchia’s Comments No Different than What You Hear at HOF

By Mike Silva ~ August 31st, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Yankees.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia uttered the dreaded “L” word when discussing Francisco Cervelli‘s antics last night. Cervelli, who admitted earlier this year he needed to cut back on his emotional theatrics, irked John Lackey and the Red Sox with his clap at home plate after a fifth inning home run. Lackey would bean Cervelli later in the game, which actually cost the Sox two runs. After the 5-2 loss, Saltalamacchia weighed in on the situation. It’s just the Latin players,” he said. “That’s the way they play the game. It’s OK to an extent. If you go a little further than that, that’s when you need to step back.” This quote was played on WFAN early this morning, but what the New York radio station failed to mention is that Saltalamacchia retracted his statements later to say younger players are sometimes brought up with a different code than some of the veterans in the league. That is a horrible attempt at public relations, as the true feelings of Saltalamacchia and other players around the league was already let out.

This reminds me of the complaints from National League teams, specifically the Phillies, regarding Jose Reyes and his celebratory displays of emotion. Under Omar Minaya, the Mets had a large Latin contingency that included Pedro Martinez, K-Rod, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, and Reyes. Martinez and Reyes were among some of the most demonstrative in all of baseball. They were hated for it, and some believed Reyes was the reason behind second division clubs, like Washington and Florida, taking pleasure at knocking the Mets out of the playoffs.

Before you get angry with Saltalamacchia, understand the emotional nature of Latin American ballplayers is celebrated at the Baseball Hall of Fame. I was in Cooperstown two weeks ago to witness it for myself. There is a room dedicated to the rise of Latino ballplayers and it’s accompanied by a video. The narrator points out how the Latino culture (and I am paraphrasing) “is one in which they openly express their joy and emotion.” You see video of Pedro Martinez dancing, Jose Reyes celebrating, David Ortiz throwing his helmet, and the ultimate clown - Manny Ramirez. The video makes this out to be a positive development for the game. Isn’t that what Cervelli was doing last night? I don’t think Ramirez fell into the “young player” category cited by Saltalamacchia. The Hall of Fame is celebrating this behavior, but the Red Sox were quick to stifle Saltalamacchia’s comments. As a matter of fact, the Mets in the past have a concert after Hispanic Night to celebrate the event. The league is recognizing and celebrating the culture, but shudders when one of its players states the obvious.

Let’s cut through the political correctness for a minute. I started watching baseball in the mid-eighties. There was showboating, but the Latino influence on the game has brought this to another level. Its spread amongst the other players and is now mainstream in the game. Why is it so hard to admit this? I am not suggesting its bad, but sometimes it does go over the top. Our sports are tame compared to what you see in countries like Europe and South America. Ever watch the antics during a soccer match? If you started to import baseball players from those countries on a wide scale I bet you would see a new dynamic added to the cultural equation.

Should Cervelli have been plunked? As I said earlier, yes, I believe he deserved it. There are consequences to your actions. Just like Lackey gave up a couple of key runs, Cervelli had to experience a little pain. Both players suffered from their actions. I do not think we should legislate players’ behavior. There is nothing in baseball that compares to the silliness of the NBA and NFL. Do I need to get into the cultural element there? Again, that is my opinion, and one that you may not share. Perhaps you like pre-game dancing in the huddle or bombastic end zone celebrations. If I played the game I would act like I have been there before. Of course, I grew up under a whole different set of rules, experiences, and beliefs versus someone from another state, race, or country.

People from different backgrounds behave differently, and it’s foolish to pretend otherwise. Bottom line: let people behave as they wish. They will be judged and punished by their peers. Baseball is now just as much about entertainment as it is about hitting that little round white ball. Again, society has evolved. In the past couples would be seen in separate beds on television shows. Now you basically have nudity on mainstream television. Is it right? It’s up to the viewer to decide. Baseball is more of a melting pot than ever before. You won’t get the same culture with the mix of players today that you experienced back in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and even early 90s.

The real issue, for me at least, is not whether Cervelli was right or wrong. We all have our opinions, and each pitcher would react differently. Let his peers judge him. The sad part is we pretend there aren’t cultural differences that make the game unique. On one hand the league celebrates it; on the other hand they are afraid to admit it. You can’t have it both ways; we shouldn’t allow them.

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4 Responses to Saltalamacchia’s Comments No Different than What You Hear at HOF

  1. dutchsailor

    I’m afraid that I don’t understand. Celebrating is allowed, with restrictions, in other sports. Why is it stifled in baseball. If Lackey thows a fastball down the middle of the plate, it’s his fault if Cervelli puts it over the wall. Why should’t he celebrate? It’s not like he did a war dance on the way to the dugout.

  2. Chuck Johnson

    Until you’ve experienced baseball in a Latin country, there’s really nothing that can be said to justify how they universally feel about the game.

    The first time I saw a Winter League game in Puerto Rico, I was shocked…it was nothing like I had ever seen before, and it takes awhile to get used to.

    They approach the game differently. From the time these kids are old enough to play, all they’re trying to do is get out of whatever environment they’re in.

    It’s no different for the Rucker League players in the city, or Darry Strawberry and Eric Davis trying to get out of south central Los Angeles.

    There’s nothing wrong with what Saltalamacchia said, just like there was nothing wrong with what Lackey did.

    And Cervelli was judged by his peers.

  3. Kiko Jones

    My issue is this: the same people who celebrate the antics of very demonstrative closers-I’m looking at you MLBN “analysts”-were the same ones who defended Cervelli getting plunked.

    Also, how smart is it to plunk the lead-off guy in a game you’re losing by 2 runs? I guess they found out when Cervelli came around to score.

  4. Juke Early

    Nobody on the Red Sox or the whole drunken town of Boston should open their fat mouths about anything a Yankee does. What about that phony hot dogging one dimensional juicing Ortiz? it’s OK for him to pose at homeplate, twirling his bat like a Mardi Gras drag queen? But gee, Cervilli displaying pleasure becomes a Hitler level act, while the ongoing unimpeded & unpunished throwing at, hitting & injuring Yankees is Mother Theresa in Calcutta?

    This is the worst kind of myopic, one-sided psychotic behavior. The Yankees were/are hated by other team’s fans because the NYY win; not because they are thugs & bullies. Yet that’s what the sick so called Boston fans prize and enjoy so much more than winning. If Boston fans lacked decency before 2004—and they did, with their sub-moronic one-note hate, they have only downgraded since.

    There must not be any mirrors in Boston. Or they are all vampires. Because none of them look themselves in the eye and see what they really are. No matter how many “games” they play and win. They are true losers. They are without a doubt, the most graceless World Series winning city in history.

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