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Is there a place for bat flipping in baseball? Twins players have different views

Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson (7) flips his bat after hitting a two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the fourth inning at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago on April 17, 2019. David Banks / USA TODAY Sports

Most players in the Twins clubhouse had at least heard about the drama surrounding Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and his bat flip against the Kansas City Royals.

There’s been quite a buzz on social media since Wednesday afternoon when Anderson crushed a two-run home run off Royals pitcher Brad Keller in the bottom of the fourth inning, then launched his bat like a javelin toward his own dugout before he ran the bases.

Not surprisingly, Anderson had to pay the piper when he returned to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning, taking a first pitch fastball from Keller directly on left glute.

That caused the two dugouts empty. In the end, umpire Joe West ejected both Keller, managers, a bench coach and, maybe most puzzling, Anderson, who didn’t do much but take his place after being plunked.

“There’s a pretty clear line I draw in the sand,” Twins reliever Trevor May said. “It’s not even about guys having fun, or guys respecting the game, or whatever. It’s about respecting the opposing team.”

May said he’s not opposed to a bat flip but added, “If someone is out there directing their celebration at someone, the line is crossed at that point. If someone is just out there to celebrate themselves and be excited for themselves, and it’s not about the game or the team or anything like that, at that point there’s a problem.”

Perhaps the most notable bat flip of all time came during the ALDS a few seasons back when Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista hammered a go-ahead three-run home run to left field and promptly launched his bat to the heavens.

That rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, especially the Texas Rangers, vilified Bautista for not respecting the unwritten rules of the game.

“That’s something the fans want,” Twins catcher Mitch Garver said Tuesday. “I’m not really on either side of it. I don’t necessarily agree with an aggressive bat flip in the fifth inning or something like that. I think it’s stupid. I also don’t really care. There’s people out there that are going to do it anyway. The game is going to dictate itself. The pitchers are going to retaliate if they want to. It is what it is.”

Manager Rocco Baldelli kept his cards close to his vest. Answering that question, he said, would be “a long discussion” that would take too long to draw to a conclusion.

“There is a feel aspect to it,” he said. “We could all watch the same play and have a different feel for what’s going on out there. There are times where I see guys do stuff on the field and I go, ‘That’s pretty awesome.’ There are other times when I see guys do stuff on the field and I go, ‘I can see why the other guy on the other side is not taking kindly to that.’ It’s something that we’re going to deal with every day when we show up here.”

Those who talked about it before the Twins’ game against Toronto Thursday afternoon said it’s important to let players have fun, regardless of where they fell on the bat flip.

“It’s emotion, man,” Twins second baseman Jonathan Schoop said. “If someone wants to do it, then they can do it. Sometimes a pitchers strikes a guy out and then pumps his fist. It happens. It gets emotional. I can’t say no to it because, I don’t know, maybe one day I’ll do it, too. Sometimes the moment can make guys do things.”