‘Radio Free’ Montone: I Love Sports, Players Not So Much
By John Montone, 1010 WINS
NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — If Yasiel Puig had put on that act against Bob Gibson, he would have dined on dirt the next time he came to the plate.
Puig’s bat-tossing, finger-pointing self-adulation after his line drive to right field in game 3 of the NLCS crystallized the rise of the individual over the team — in team sports.
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The immensely talented Dodger rookie reacted the way a player might if he had hit a “no-doubt” bomb 30 rows deep into the seats to win the pennant.
Puig’s hit did neither. It didn’t even make it out of the park. He got a late start to first base and only a fortuitous bounce allowed him to reach third base where his epic celebration of self continued. “Me, me, me ,me,” he might as well have screamed.
The argument for Puig’s boorish behavior is that sports are meant to be fun and so we shouldn’t try to chill a player’s enthusiasm, passion and joy. But how would Puig have felt if he had been tagged out at third and the third baseman did a dance around the bag while he dusted himself off?
Proof that blowing one’s own horn has now reached ear-shattering levels can been seen every week of the NFL season. Wide receivers who score a touchdown routinely dance, dunk and point to God in heaven.
I know you’re watching me up there, man. And it doesn’t have to be a game winner or even a game changer. They do it when their team is losing. Heck they gyrate in ecstasy even when they don’t reach the end zone. Defensive players may be more obnoxious. Their job is to tackle the guy with the ball. But when they do it’s like the entire world should stop and share in the magnificence of their accomplishment. Look at me! Ain’t I special?
And members of my profession are just as clueless when it comes to their reactions. Remember Russ Hodges’ famous call when Bobby Thompson hit the, “Shot heard ‘round the world,” to beat the Dodgers back in the black and white, no replay days of 1951? He kept screaming, “The Giants win the pennant!” An entirely appropriate display of emotion given the fierce nature of the rivalry– the epic comeback the Giants had staged over the last two months of the season and the stakes.
Compare that to the New England Patriot radio voice who called Tom Brady’s TD pass to win game six of the regular season. He made it sound as if Brady had cured cancer, ended world hunger and wiped out Al-Qaeda.
It was the great Vince Lombardi who told his players, “When you get to the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.” Jimmy Brown, the best ever, would hand the ball to the ref.
And check out a You Tube video of Mickey Mantle circling the bases with his head down after blasting a tape measure home run — because “The Mick” didn’t want to show up the pitcher?
I still love sports. Some of the players not so much.
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