By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Trying to sort out the Pedro Strop and Alexei Ramirez “Gesture Fest” on Friday in the Cubs’ 6-5 win against the White Soxtakes one into the baseball etiquette conversation. The question of when too much celebration is cause for retaliation begins to get complicated when even the players the media trust turn away from the off-the-record subject matter.
Did Strop — by exaggerating his body movements after striking out two White Sox hitters to get out of a jam in the eighth inning — cross the line of baseball’s unwritten rules?
“Stropie got excited,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said about his pitcher’s funny dance and fist-pumping. “Good for him if he did get excited; good for him also if he didn’t. I have no strong feeling about it one way or another.”
The sequence of events had Ramirez taunting Strop about throwing to second base, which he occupied while Strop was getting ready to pitch. Ramirez wagged his fingers at Strop after the pitcher turned to check on the runner. Was this just some simple gamesmanship or the beginning of bad blood between the two rivals?
“I thought they were just playing,” Maddon said. “Alexei threw me a baseball before the game (Friday), and I returned it with my phone number on it. He does (fun) stuff all the time. He does a lot of cool things, I like the guy a lot. He is out there just playing baseball, none of that stuff bothered me in the least.”
Others had different opinions about proper celebration mode.
“Things have changed,” White Sox Robin Ventura when asked about the on the field hand gestures and gyrations players go through after getting on base and pointing to their teammates.
“It used to be something like that (Strop movement), a guy would get hit. That is not how it necessarily is today. You see it all the time. I have seen worse than that. That is just a guy who is emotional in a tight spot and gets out of it.”
This in-your-face era of sports may indeed dictate a new set of unwritten rules that allow in-your-face moments. Both the Cubs and Sox have little hand signals they relay back to the dugout after getting on base.
“It’s part of the game,” White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton said about the Strop incident. “I really think fan bases like it. I believe it brings a little bit of flare to baseball that traditionally hasn’t always been there. I think the old-time guys would say ‘save it’ and get off of the mound. Other people now think it’s good for your team in a big moment of the game. It did end up being a key part. So hat’s off to him, he made his pitches.”
Will there be a follow-up to the minor dustup? Only time and baseball logic will determine the outcome.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.