Jerk or not, Derek Dietrich made this week a lot more fun for the Pittsburgh Pirates


Hate him or love him, Derek Dietrich certainly provided excitement to this week’s series between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates

From looking at the scoreboard, this week’s four-game series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds was boring. However, that was not the case.

The closest game was decided by three runs, and the average margin of victory was more than five. One man’s ability to crush baseballs and admire said mashings, however, got a lot of people talking.

In the second and third games of the set, the Reds outscored the Pirates 19-7. But the numbers hardly seemed to matter.

The hot topic surrounding the Pirates wasn’t the team getting embarrassed by a division rival.

It wasn’t about Mitch Keller’s rocky debut.

It wasn’t the fact that the Bucs are 3-7 in their last 10 games. No, the thing everybody wanted to talk about was how a player on the opposing team celebrates his home runs. That man is Reds infielder Derek Dietrich.

The second end of Monday’s doubleheader should have been boring. For six innings, the game was only notable for Keller’s disastrous first Major League inning.

Then Dietrich stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, hit a bomb, admired it, and boom. Excitement.

For the rest of that night’s broadcast, Pirates broadcasters, particularly the former big leaguers, John Wehner and Bob Walk, ripped Dietrich for taking his sweet time around the bases. Throughout the next day, everybody seemed to have an opinion on if he had earned the right to enjoy himself.

We heard from the old school train of thought; the idea that Dietrich should put his head down and run the bases. Then those of the “let the kids play” camp defended Dietrich, saying that how he reacted to his mashings was his business.

Some of a more neutral mindset feel that while “showboating” is ok when done by superstars like Ken Griffey Jr. or Barry Bonds, who weren’t exactly in a hurry to get to home plate, “mediocre” players like Dietrich haven’t earned that right (never mind the fact that Dietrich has 17 home runs and an OPS over 1.000).

The story transcended Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, as it was discussed on ESPN’s “Highly Questionable.” It was also discussed on MLB Radio’s “Leadoff Spot.” Now isn’t debating baseball ethics more fun than reading and hearing about the Pirates getting their teeth kicked in?

I understand both schools of thought on Dietrich’s “pimping” of home run balls. I get why old school guys like Wehner and Walk would disapprove, and I see why those of a younger generation such as myself wouldn’t have a problem with it.

Regardless of whether he was out of line, it can’t be denied that Dietrich made the past few days a lot more interesting.

The day after the moonshot, the Pirates got pounded again, and the “showboat” hit three home runs. While he didn’t quite admire those homers as much, Dietrich’s performance Tuesday night kept people talking about Monday night, and again, made an otherwise uneventful game intriguing.

I’m not saying the drama is always good for baseball, but in this case, what Dietrich did, was harmless. The Pirates handled it appropriately by not retaliating, instead trying unsuccessfully to get him out, other than his 2-for-4 performances in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale when they batted .500 on retiring him.

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Nobody got hurt, and feelings about showboating aside, one can’t deny that Derek Dietrich’s ball watching made baseball in Pittsburgh more fun this week. It certainly be a four-game series split a lot more interesting than it otherwise would have been.