As the war rages on between the vindictive professionalism of baseball’s old guard and exuberant shows of emotion from the sport’s younger generation, one pitcher is making it very clear he won’t mind if an opponent goes wild in celebration.
Nationals closer Sean Doolittle joked in an interview with Expanded Roster this month that he’s willing to pay any fine a player may incur if they celebrate a home run against him, no matter how ridiculous the demonstration may get.
Hitters will have to wait a while for the opportunity though, as Doolittle has been on the 10-day disabled since July 10 due to left toe inflammation.
Nationals closer Sean Doolittle issues challenge to MLB hitters
Expanded Roster went and ran with the idea, offering up Sean Doolittle’s Home Run Challenge.
Looks like the @Cubs, @Phillies, and @Braves are up next on the @Nationals' schedule. Is anyone brave enough to take the challenge when @whatwouldDOOdo returns? @javy23baez? @ronaldacunajr24? @RhysHoskins? pic.twitter.com/f4M3kRStiL
— Expanded Roster (@expandedroster) September 5, 2018
As Doolittle puts it, any opponent is free to moonwalk, do cartwheels, play air guitar and ride his bat like a pony around the bases. If he likes the celebration enough and MLB dislikes it enough, he joked he would be willing to pay up to $10,000 to the charity of a hitter’s choice.
ER: If someone hits a homer off you in the future—
Sean: They better make it count.
Eireann: Make it count. Moonwalk around the bases.
Sean: Do cartwheels around the entire diamond.
ER: I would pay good money to see that. Can you do that?
Sean: I don’t think that’s a penalty.
Eireann: There’s only one way to find out.
ER: I would offer to pay it, but the fine is probably $10,000.
Sean: How about if I match the fine and give it to charity?
ER: There we go. Sean Doolittle will donate $10,000 to the charity of your choice, if you moonwalk the bases after you hit a homer off him. Tell everyone.
Sean: If you do any sort of celebration, really, but I have to think the celebration was actually good.
ER: Okay, so you have to impress Sean.
Sean: Feel free to use the bat as the prop. An air guitar, a pony, some sort of situation where they’re flying around the bases. I feel like people would be into that.
It’s quite unlikely MLB would fine anyone for a celebration, no matter how exuberant, but the spirit of Doolittle’s challenge is clearly more around making clear that opponents will face no backlash if they decide to flip their bat and do whatever they want around the bases against him.
Doolittle later clarified that he was only joking, stating his preferred outcome is simply that no batters hit a home run off him.
I can’t believe I have to clarify this but I was just joking. While I am extremely in favor of players having fun and showing emotion I do not think that they should hit a homerun off me…that would be bad. https://t.co/WwAoJqCa1S
— Sean Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) September 5, 2018
This is nothing new for Sean Doolittle
Doolittle has long been one of baseball’s most outspokenly liberal players, most recently directly condemning the recent rash of offensive tweets from several MLB players. That public presence also extends to confronting and mocking baseball’s culture of suppressing shows of fun and emotion on the field.
🚨WE NOW RETURN TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED GAME RESPECTING🚨
Please refrain from using any custom arm sleeves, spikes, bats or personality until next year’s #PlayersWeekend event. Thank you.
— Sean Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) August 27, 2018
During his interview with Expanded Roster, he explained why he believes there’s something wrong with admonishing foreign players for not properly “respecting” the game, drawing attention to the conditions so many of his fellow MLB players had to persevere through just to make it to the United States to pursue their dream.
ER: I talked to Kolten Wong about that recently, the flag sleeve that he was asked not to wear. He had a Hawaiian flag sleeve after the volcanic eruption and MLB had a problem with it.
Sean: I know [Willson] Contreras was wearing the Venezuela sleeve and he got a letter as well. They docked him for it and then a month later every player, regardless of where they were from, had to wear stars and stripes for the Fourth of July. The optics of that really bother me.
A lot of these guys come to America and baseball was their ticket to give their family a better life. They come from less privileged situations than most American players come from. Don’t talk about disrespecting to game when the game has given them these unbelievable opportunities to improve the lives of them and their families. They’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity to play this game. I promise you they’re not disrespecting the game. If you got your feelings hurt, that’s on you.
If a guy hits a home run off me, drops to his knees, pretends the bat is a bazooka and shoots it out at the sky…I don’t give a s—.
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