Well, that was fast. Before even arriving to Spring Training, the Giants' latest acquisition, Jae-gyun Hwang, has opted not to bring from South Korea his most famous move: his bat flip. While this would seem to be a practical move for a new player coming into an unfamiliar league, it's disappointing in that the Giants have been a somewhat boring team to watch the past two seasons; and so the idea of a new guy infusing the squad with a dash of unexpected charm and energy is one that's hard to let go. And yet, that's exactly what we must do. Because the bat flip is no more.
But I ask you: wouldn't you like to watch Hwang do this against, say, Clayton Kershaw?
I'm sorry. That was actually a clip from the opening of the feature film Wayne's World where we meet Wayne and Garth doing their public access TV show and being true to themselves.
What I meant to link to was *this* clip of Hwang:
No, no wait. This is another scene from the feature film Wayne's World. This one comes right after Wayne and Garth sell the rights to their public access show for $5,000 apiece to a TV producer. They're in the major leagues now!
But I'm getting away from my point here. Just watch this clip and tell me you wouldn't be thrilled to watch a player in a Giants uniform do this!
Okay, well, I guess I'm pulling video from the wrong folder here, but again, I think Wayne's World is actually speaking to my point. Why is Hwang giving up the thing for which he's most known (at least here in the States)?
Sure, there's a whole debate over the value of bat flips, and I'm sure if you polled every baseball fan you'd likely find a 50-50 split in terms of what The People want to see. And we already know that every active and former pitcher to ever appear in a major league game wants to make bat flips punishable by death. But what is the value of entertainment if we kill the improvisation? If art cannot exist in a fun space and if personality is anathema, then what really is the point of this pointless diversion?
It does suggest that there's really only one way the owners prefer to make their money. They want baseball culture to hew to certain rules of decorum. Grabbing your junk, spitting everywhere, and leaving the dugout smelling and looking like 30 bros puked all over it is totally fine. Advertising beer, liquor, and erection-boosting medicine is totally fine, but don't you dare make a pitcher on the downside of his career feel worse about his mortality. Don't you dare put an exclamation point on a momentous swing -- that's offensive!
But we wind up talking in circles about this, don't we? The fact remains, Jae-gyun Hwang is just trying to get by like the rest of us. And maybe part of the adjustment to his swing involves thinking less about the performative act of flipping his bat. That's me being fair to the situation, though. We all know the truth: he's conforming so that he doesn't get even more scrutinized for being an outsider.
So let's be annoyed by his decision, even if we can understand it, because if he makes the team we'll know that we could've had this: