The Brewers are hot and have claimed the early lead in the National League Central. But the only thing anyone wanted to discuss after Sunday's game with Pittsburgh was the "brawl" ignited by Milwaukee's Carlos Gomez, who violated hidebound baseball protocol in the third inning by flipping his bat and pausing a beat too long to inspect a deep line drive he soon converted to a triple.
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole stormed over to third base after the play to advise Gomez that (paraphrasing here) the bat flip was deeply disrespectful not only of Cole but the city of Pittsburgh as a whole and that it had quite possibly soiled the fabric of the national pastime itself.
Them's fightin' words, of course. By baseball standards, the resulting scrum was fairly violent -- a punch, maybe two, actually landed. After a few seconds, though, the guys remembered they're baseball players and returned to the normal script of flooding the field ("The bullpens have emptied!") to holler and glare at the other squad while making sure teammates held them back.
After the game, Gomez denied flouting one of baseball's unwritten rules: Thou shalt not dally at the plate and admire thy handiwork. In fact, he said the bat flip was a sign of frustration because he thought his line drive would end up "a hard out."
Whatever. I wish a guy would finally state the obvious, which is that baseball's hoary code of ethics is unwritten for the simple reason that it's too silly to be recorded in ink. Athletes celebrate in every major sport. There's the fist pump after a big birdie in golf. Soccer players strip off their jerseys and execute full-body slides after goals. Some NBA players talk trash after baskets all game long, while football stars have styled an endless array of backflips, shimmies, spikes and Lambeau Leaps to mark touchdowns. Baseball, as always, lags behind.