The Philadelphia Phillies suffered a heartbreaking 7-6 extra innings loss at the hands of the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night. And manager Rob Thomson said as much when he spoke with the the morning show hosts on 94WIP, Philly’s sports talk radio station.
But those hosts had a question for Thomson that wasn’t about anyone’s play on Tuesday night. They wanted to know: was he bothered by Ronald Acuña Jr.’s celebration while he was running the bases during a home run?
“I like our guys to act like they’ve been there before,” Thomson said. He went on to say that he knows the game has changed over the years and that he can’t control it, so he tries not to let it bother him too much.
Let’s take a look at the celebration that rubbed Thomson the wrong way. Acuña’s homer came in the fifth inning, and he hit it off Zack Wheeler, one of the National League’s very best pitchers. But more importantly, that home run broke a 1-1 tie and put the Braves up 3-1 over the Phillies. And Acuña celebrated accordingly, holding his arms out straight and flapping his hands like a bird while he was jogging around the diamond. His teammates in the dugout did the same motion back.
Thomson appears to let his own players celebrate however they want. When they get on base, the do the “big balls” dance. They do stupid stuff in the dugout when someone hits a home run. When the player of the game is doing their postgame TV interview, other players always douse him with liquid or seeds or random dugout trash when it’s happening.
So Thomson is anything but a stick-in-the-mud. Which is why his complaint about the celebration feels a little hypocritical. Every team chooses to celebrate differently. The bird arms are a bit showy, since it’s a celebration that was done while actively running the bases during a home run, but consider these facts before making a judgment:
The Braves have a 95-50 record, at least three games better than anyone else in baseball, and 16 games ahead of their closest competition in the NL East (the 79-66 Phillies).
Ronald Acuña Jr. has more hits (196), runs (132), and stolen bases (65) than anyone else in baseball, has a top five batting average (.333), top five on-base percentage (.415), top five slugging percentage (.586), and is sixth in home runs with 37.
When a team and its best player are that good, they can do anything they want. Because it comes down to one thing: If Thomson doesn’t want to see the Braves do their home run celebration, the Phillies should stop letting them hit home runs.