For fans who reside outside the imaginary lines that surround the Nationals and Astros’ fanbases, an argument can be made that the 2019 World Series has been boring. There has yet to be a lead change after the fifth inning, leading to a lack of game-changing moments and heart-stopping performances.
That remained the case in Game 6, when the Nationals took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth and didn’t relinquish it for the rest of the contest. But this game was different, as an infusion of drama thanks to a questionable interference call and a close score through the first eight frames kept fans glued to the TV screen all night.
Perhaps the most exciting parts of the night, however, were the kids adding a little flair. Alex Bregman hit a mammoth go-ahead home run in the first inning and carried his bat with him all the way to first base, drawing the ire of his opponents in the visitors’ dugout.
Four innings later, Juan Soto took the lead back with an upper-deck shot of his own. He too brought a souvenir with him for the first 90 feet of his home run trot.
This dude Juan Soto really carried his bat to 1st base too!— Cut4 (@Cut4) October 30, 2019
Also a legend. pic.twitter.com/SVFHsPPfBe
Twitter was already sent into a frenzy when Bregman pulled his stunt, but everyone lost their minds after Soto followed suit. It was a funny and exciting moment, something any baseball fan could enjoy and banter about.
Then after the game, Bregman told reporters he regretted his actions.
“I just let my emotions get the best of me and it’s not how I was raised to play the game,” Bregman said. “I’m sorry for doing that.”
Davey Martinez spoke about both Bregman and Soto at his postgame press conference, and he wasn’t happy with either of them.
“We didn’t like it. And the fact that Soto did it, I’ll be quite honest with you, I didn’t like it when he did it, as well,” Martinez said. “It’s a conversation I’ll have with Juan. That’s not who we are. I mean, if he feels like he wants to carry the bat all the way to first base, then that’s him.
“But I don’t like when our guys do it. I don’t like the celebration outside the dugout. I’ve said that before. That’s just not who we are.”
Soto, to his credit, didn’t feel any remorse for pulling off the stunt.
“Since I saw what Bregman did in the first inning, I was like, ‘That looks pretty cool,’” Soto told MLB Tonight. “I want to do it.”
Bregman didn’t need to apologize for carrying the bat. Soto shouldn’t get a talking-to from his manager for doing the same. Both those moments were electric.
Bregman’s celebration wasn’t about showing up Stephen Strasburg, who admitted he was accidentally tipping pitches in that inning, it was about adding his own flavor to a feat he just accomplished. The moment was his, and he earned the right to relish in it.
Sure, Soto stuck it to Bregman by copying his celebration. But that’s how MLB should be encouraging players to respond to these things. Drilling a guy in the back is an unnecessary threat to a player’s safety. And with stricter penalties being enforced for throwing at hitters, this is the perfect avenue for players to seek revenge through instead.
It got fans talking all over social media. SportsCenter showed the highlights on loop all Wednesday morning. Kids who watched that game are going to go into their backyard today, pretend they just crushed a World Series home run and carry their bat all the way to the tree stump they use as first base.
For a World Series that’s been relatively boring as far as World Series go, MLB should be capitalizing on as many exciting moments as it can. One player apologizing and another’s manager criticizing him aren’t steps in the right direction.