For those who can’t stand the acceptance of bat flipping and related celebrations into major league baseball’s mainstream, I give you Darin Erstad.
Erstad, a two-time All-Star over his 14-year big league career, has been head baseball coach at the University of Nebraska since 2011. He is decidedly old school.
So when one of his players, junior infielder Angelo Altavilla, did this against Indiana on Friday …
… Erstad was not happy about it. (As evidenced in the video, neither was Indiana catcher Ryan Fineman.)
Erstad greeted Altavilla in the dugout with no small amount of displeasure—“Don’t do that again,” were his exact words, according to the Lincoln Journal Star—and then pulled him from the game.
Altavilla had been slumping, as had Nebraska, so they had reason to celebrate. Such details did not matter to Erstad.
It’s one thing to accept that players set the tone for Major League Baseball’s unwritten rules. When a critical mass accepts bat flipping as the norm, well, that’s what it is. In college ball, however, there’s an emphasis on learning unlike anything found in the major leagues. NCAA coaches are shaping ballplayers, but, given that only a tiny percentage of the collegiate ranks go pro, they’re also shaping people. And if a guy like Erstad wants to pass along lessons about respect and decorum that his players can take with them into civilian life, more power to him.
Succeeding with grace is in increasingly short supply in this country. Here’s hoping for an infusion of the stuff from Lincoln.