Thoughts on celebrations differ in clubhouse

Rob Biertempfel
| Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009

LOS ANGELES — Pirates manager John Russell takes an old-school approach to baseball. He appreciates hard slides, big swings and an all-out effort.

What he doesn't appreciate are choreographed, comical celebrations at the plate after walkoff home runs.

"I'm not big on it," Russell said. "When you hit a walkoff, it's an exciting time. But there's still some professionalism involved. It's instinctual that you get excited, so let that take over instead of choreographing it. Enjoy it, then get off the field and get ready for the next one."

Earlier this season, the Milwaukee Brewers untucked their jerseys as they walked off the field after a win. A week ago, Prince Fielder stomped on home plate after hitting a walkoff homer as his teammates toppled backwards around him.

When a New York Yankees player hits a walkoff, he tosses his batting helmet to his mates. Those kind of antics displease some guys, but many of the younger Pirates players think it's fine.

"I think the whole gathering and putting something together is maybe a little extreme," rookie third baseman Neil Walker said. "At the same time, as long as you're not mocking somebody, I don't think it's a big deal."

Jesse Chavez knows that, as a reliever, he might get an up-close look at another team's victory dance. But he didn't want to criticize it.

"You're upset and frustrated when you give up a walkoff and you see them celebrating," Chavez said. "But at the same time, you threw the pitch and that's why it happened."

The Pirates' most dramatic walkoff moment this season was Andrew McCutchen's ninth-inning homer Aug. 25 against Philadelphia. McCutchen traveled the last 10 feet of his round trip in the air, taking a giant leap as he approached home plate to be mobbed by his teammates.

"I don't know if that's going to be my signature," McCutchen said, grinning. "It's just something I did. I had kind of talked about (hitting a walkoff) and then it happened, so I did it."

McCutchen has no qualms if other teams want to perform mini musical reviews at the plate after game-winning hits.

"The game's changing," said McCutchen, 22. "It's all in fun. I mean, you've got to have fun sometime, right?"

Each time the Pirates pick up a routine win, McCutchen and the other outfielders do a leaping, "Fun Bunch" victory bump near second base. McCutchen said they've never gotten any criticism about it from players on other teams.

"It's no different from a closer pumping his fist and doing all this and that after getting a save," McCutchen said. "Everyone wants to celebrate when they do something good.

"Everyone wants to be different. You don't want to be the same as everyone else. It's showing your emotion, showing you care about the game."

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