Are Baseball Players Obligated to Acknowledge a Home Crowd's Standing Ovation?

Steven Matz

Are Baseball Players Obligated to Acknowledge a Home Crowd's Standing Ovation?

MLB

Are Baseball Players Obligated to Acknowledge a Home Crowd's Standing Ovation?

In today’s column, the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick yet again criticized Mets pitcher Steven Matz for not acknowledging a standing ovation from the Citi Field crowd. The young lefthander was pulled from the game August 14th after his no-hit bid was broken up in the eighth inning.

Were we again not supposed notice that Steven Matz doesn’t appreciate appreciation? Matz, receiving a standing ovation after leaving with a one-hitter with one out in the eighth, just ignored it. He entered the dugout not even bothering to touch the brim of his cap. SNY’s Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez must’ve missed this. Again. Even dour Colin Montgomerie acknowledged applause.

Mushnick previously took issue with similar behavior back in May when Matz departed another quality start.

Even in an act-too-cool-to-care era, Steven Matz would be even easier to root for if he returned a little bit of Mets fans’ love.

Wednesday he was removed with two out in the eighth, allowing two hits and no runs. As he reached the dugout, those devotees who had sat through a cold, rainy game gave him a standing ovation.

Game-faced, he ignored them. Didn’t even touch the bill of his cap, give half a wave or make with a slight smile. Nothing to indicate mutual regard or a back-at-ya “Thank you.” Come on, kid.

In the grand scheme of things, this seems like an insignificant quibble. The easy thing to do would be lambast Mushnick for being out-of-touch and overly nitpicky. But his sentiment can be used to explore a larger issue.

Are baseball players obligated, out of respect, to tip their caps or otherwise acknowledge such shows of affections from home fans? Perhaps more importantly, is refusing to do so too much of a risk to undertake considering how little effort is required?

Personally, I think anyone offended because a player on their team doesn’t flash a non-verbal sign of appreciation for the support is suffering from a case of Yeahbutitis.

Yeah, you pitched a great game and helped the team I root for win, but you didn’t make me feel special for getting out of my seat to clap.

Give me a team full of indifferent .340 hitters and an applause-deaf bullpen over a roster of middling but gracious hat-tippers. I’d argue most fans would rather win on the scoreboard than being told they’re the real MVP.

Fans demanding a thank-you for their thank-you probably aren’t entirely onboard with players showing demonstratively negative body language when they are booed. They seem to only want to be recognized for their support while having their fickle and sometimes arbitrary Chicken Little behavior ignored.

No one said fans are reasonable.

Having said that, Matz’s failure to simply reach up and touch the brim of his cap is a curious choice if one weighs the cost-benefit of such an action. It’s a minute gesture that could quash any narrative of him being ungracious. It’s entirely unfair to make sweeping character generations on how a pitcher walks from the mound to the dugout but here we are.

I’m genuinely curious to hear the public’s thought on this issue. The predictable, reasonable answer is somewhere in the middle: that players have no obligation to acknowledge the crowd, but it’s probably in their best interest to do so — even if they’d rather not.

[New York Post]

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