Sean Doolittle Has Issued a Challenge

A brief examination of basically any human encounter ever reveals that people frequently do not agree with each other. This one human over here has an opinion; this other one, meanwhile, has a different opinion. It would be fine, perhaps, if those individuals never interacted, but that is also part of being human: there’s a lot of interaction. At stores, for example. Or on streets. And the one human says to the other, “Hey, your opinion is different than mine!” And the second one says to the first, “I am mad about that!”

Sometimes the interaction in question occurs at home plate during baseball’s postseason and Sam Dyson, for reasons known primarily to Sam Dyson, has decided that the proper course of action for someone like him is just to slap Troy Tulowitzki directly on the buttocks. Tulowitzki, whom one will identify immediately as a different person than Sam Dyson, regards this as not the proper course of action and proceeds to lodge some complaints verbally. Other humans get involved and all manner of other complaints are lodged, some verbally and some even physically. Complaints abound, is what one finds. Then everyone retreats back to their respective holes in the ground (known, in the sport of baseball, as a “dugout”) and awaits the next event worthy of their indignation.

One small thing over which humans frequently disagree is how much joy is acceptable to display publicly. One camp, whom we might characterize broadly as The Sons and Daughters of John Calvin, believe the amount is very close to zero. Another camp, whom we might call Basically Everyone Else, contends that — so long as no one is getting hurt — it’s probably okay to just do whatever.

By all accounts, Sam Dyson belongs to the first camp — or did as of October, 2015, at least — and it seems likely that his curious interaction with the Blue Jays’ shortstop was motivated, in part, by an event that had occurred earlier in the same inning. Shortly before Troy Tulowitzki popped up to end said inning, Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista hit a home run that changed the complexion of that postseason game dramatically. To suggest that his celebration was emphatic would be to traffic in the rhetorical device known as understatement.

Reports indicate that Dyson was not pleased. “Jose needs to calm that down, just kind of respect the game a little more,” he told the Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga after the game. Bautista, for his part, indicated that he was just reacting to the immensity of the moment.

Because humans are so profoundly capable of disagreeing with each other, it’s not unsurprising to learn that they disagree about the best way to “respect” the game of baseball. For Sam Dyson — or, again, the version of Sam Dyson from October of 2015 — that respect is demonstrated by a sort of stoic resolve. For the Sean Doolittle of 2018, however, respecting the game appears to be something different, perhaps something the opposite.

Consider the following passage from an interview with Doolittle and his wife, Eireann Dolan conducted by Kelly Wallace of Expanded Roster published today. Doolittle and Dolan and Wallace are all discussing the kind of joy frequently demonstrated by Latin American players.

Sean: A lot of these guys come to America and baseball was their ticket to give their family a better life. They come from less privileged situations than most American players come from. Don’t talk about disrespecting the game when the game has given them these unbelievable opportunities to improve the lives of them and their families. They’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity to play this game. I promise you they’re not disrespecting the game. If you got your feelings hurt, that’s on you.

If a guy hits a home run off me, drops to his knees, pretends the bat is a bazooka and shoots it out at the sky… I don’t give a shit.

Eireann: I hope after this gets published someone does that.

ER: If someone hits a homer off you in the future —

Sean: They better make it count.

Eireann: Make it count. Moonwalk around the bases.

Sean: Do cartwheels around the entire diamond.

ER: I would pay good money to see that. Can you do that?

Sean: I don’t think that’s a penalty.

Eireann: There’s only one way to find out.

ER: I would offer to pay it, but the fine is probably $10,000.

Sean: How about if I match the fine and give it to charity?

ER: There we go. Sean Doolittle will donate $10,000 to the charity of your choice, if you moonwalk the bases after you hit a homer off him. Tell everyone.

Sean: If you do any sort of celebration, really, but I have to think the celebration was actually good.

ER: Okay, so you have to impress Sean.

Sean: Feel free to use the bat as the prop. An air guitar, a pony, some sort of situation where they’re flying around the bases. I feel like people would be into that.

It’s unlikely that everyone would be into that, of course. The descendants of John Calvin remain well represented in American sport. However, certainly some people would be into that — and, as a result of this conversation, there’s a non-zero chance that it might occur.

Consider the following dispatch transmitted today by the editors of Expanded Roster:

For any of this to occur, of course, Doolittle would have to concede a home run at all, something he’s only done three times in 37.1 innings this year. Also, he hasn’t pitched since the beginning of July, so that renders everything less likely, as well. But he’s likely to be activated this weekend, it seems. Perhaps someone will accept his challenge?

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 years ago

Carson, I completely disagree with your first sentence. Oh, hang on, never mind.