Bat tossing, Carlos Gomez, Don't Showboat

Go-Go Gone-Gone: Gomez Pimps, Explodes Over Tongue Lashing


Pimping is a ballplayer’s prerogative. But if one chooses to style in the batter’s box after hitting a long fly ball, one must be prepared should the opposition cry foul. (One must also make sure the ball leaves the ballpark.)

Oh, Carlos. Did Brian McCann teach you nothing?

In the third inning at Pittsburgh yesterday, Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Gomez sent a ball to deepest center field. Thinking it gone, he flipped his bat and trotted to first, picking up speed only upon seeing his drive bounce off the fence. By that time, of course, he was rounding first base. Because he’s fast, and because the ball caromed away from a leaping Andrew McCutchen, Gomez still made it to third without much trouble.

It’s after he reached third that the trouble started.

Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole, backing up the play, had some words for Gomez as he walked back to the mound. Rather than absorbing them and moving on, however, Gomez stalked toward Cole, shouting all the while. When the Pirates bench emptied in response, he started swinging at anybody wearing a yellow cap. (Watch it here.)

Said Cole in an report: “I grabbed the ball from [third baseman Josh] Harrison and I said, ‘If you’re going to hit a home run, you can watch it. If you’re going to hit a fly ball to center field, don’t watch it.’ ”

Gomez got pushed to the ground in the melee. Pirates outfielder Travis Snider—the first one out of the dugout—ended up with a cut on his face after being hit by Milwaukee’s Martin Maldonado (an attack upon an unaware player, to judge by the reaction in the Pittsburgh clubhouse after the game, which the Pirates did not appear inclined to forget).

In the immediate aftermath, the first thing to pop to mind was Gomez’s confrontation last year with McCann, then the Braves catcher. Earlier, Gomez had been drilled by Atlanta pitcher Paul Maholm, and subsequently didn’t just pimp a homer—he shouted at Maholm all the way around the bases. If you don’t remember McCann’s wild reaction, it’s worth reading about, here.

(You can go even farther back, to 2010, to see Gomez acting similarly against the Twins. At least the guy’s consistent.)

It is the right of Cole and every other pitcher to offer verbal warnings to those who they feel are showing them up. It is Gomez’s right to respond in kind—verbally—which is what he insists he was doing, right up to the point that the Pirates’ dugout emptied.

“[Cole tells] me something, I tell him something back, everything is normal, I talk to the umpire,” Gomez said. “And then Snider comes like a superhero and tries to throw punches at everybody. I just tried to protect myself.”

Judging by the videotape, however, Gomez appears to have thrown the first punch … not to mention the part where he approached Cole rather than shouting from his station upon third. One can hardly fault the Pirates for responding to a guy charging their pitcher, even he did it in slow motion.

(Amid it all, Gomez broke another unwritten rule—not just of baseball, but of life: Throwing the first punch when surrounded by friends of the guy you’re swinging at rarely ends well for you. Aside from his third base coach, Gomez was encircled by Pirates at the time of the incident.)

If nothing else, Gomez reinforced a notion that had become apparent during last year’s incident with McMann: It’s not too tough to get inside his head. Yesterday, all it took were a few stern words from Cole, and Gomez over-reacted himself right into an ejection. This would matter less if Gomez was a marginal player, but the guy is a centerpiece of his team’s offense.

Getting his goat is now officially on the table as a legitimate strategy; don’t be surprised to see it enacted once the games really start do matter down the stretch.


Carlos Gomez, Don't Showboat

Gomez Flips, Trips, Quips – and Ultimately Slips out of Trouble

As has long been trumpeted in this space, the unwritten rules are less about on-field actions than the meaning behind those actions. It’s why something as innocuous as a stolen base can serve to enrage an entire roster should it occur at an inopportune moment.

The inverse is also true. Should a ballplayer do something that by most indicators is viewed as disrespectful, he can get away with it if the opposition understands where he’s coming from.

So it went last week with Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez, who actually hit a trifecta of sorts in a game against the Twins.

He hit a monster home run, then admired it.

Then he flipped his bat—which clipped Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer’s wrist on the way down—and threw up his hands in victory.

Mauer waited for Gomez to circle the bases, then mentioned to him that he might want to be more careful in the future. Gomez—without even bothering to turn around, threw up his arms and, back to his opponent, gave Mauer wiggly fingered jazz hands, indicating that he wanted no part of whatever it was the catcher was trying to convey. (Watch it here.)

All of this for a home run that came while his team was trailing, 15-0.

None of this was even remotely okay. Gomez, however, had some things working in his favor.

Most immediately was the fact that he spent the previous two seasons in Minnesota, which gave the Twins a long taste of his exuberance in such situations. He even paid a visit to the opposing clubhouse before the game, to greet manager Ron Gardenhire and his former teammates.

Because they’d seen his act before, they knew it was not personal. (They also knew that he’d just come off the disabled list, and was especially excited to forge a strong start.)

“Just one of those moments that we know Go-Go can have every once in a while,” said Gardenhire in the Associated Press report. “He was excited, and it just happened.”

“We played with him the last couple years, that’s the type of player he is,” Twins starter Nick Blackburn told “It made me mad, but I shouldn’t be getting mad at stuff like that. I’m sure everyone on his team also knew he shouldn’t have done it, but that’s the type of guy he is. He gets so caught up in the moment.”

Even more importantly, Gomez recognized what he did, nearly as soon as he did it. Upon returning to the dugout, he was informed by teammate Joe Inglett that Mauer was offering words of caution, not talking smack.

Gomez regretted his actions immediately. After the game he offered blanket apologies for his actions.

“I didn’t even know the bat was going to hit him,” he said. “I’ll say again: I didn’t try to do this. . . . I had a good night, but you have to be more professional.” quoted him as saying, “Right now, I feel bad because Blackburn is one of the good friends I’ve got over there. I apologized because I don’t want to try to show him up.”

Gomez also addressed the notion of getting drilled the following day, adding, “I’m going to take it like a man because I know I did [something] bad.”

That might have been enough to get him off the hook; he wasn’t hit by a pitch for the remainder of the series.

– Jason