Sports Outside the Beltway

The Unwritten Rules are the Worst

Rookie defends celebrating home run with fans.

LOS ANGELES — Mets rookie Lastings Milledge said Monday he doesn’t regret high-fiving fans along the right-field railing at Shea Stadium after hitting his first major-league home run.

Milledge’s two-out solo homer in the 10th inning of Sunday’s game against the San Francisco Giants tied it at 6. As he jogged out to right field for the 11th, he slapped hands with dozens of fans leaning over the railing. The exuberance of the 21-year-old prospect drew some critical comments from some of his teammates and the Giants, who beat New York 7-6 in 12 innings.

Manager Willie Randolph told Milledge to tone it down a little bit and Milledge said it was a rookie mistake afterward. But Monday he said he didn’t feel that way anymore.

“You know what? It happened, and if we could replay the game, I don’t regret one thing I did,” he said. “As far as showing up somebody, it might have looked like that. But I’m not here to show up anybody because I haven’t put in enough time at the big-league level. So I have no right to show anybody up.”

This story has been all over the ESPN talk circuit. I can’t believe someone could get mad at a 21 year old, who had hit his first big league homer, for celebrating with his own fans. Baseball needs MORE players doing stuff like this with fans, not less. Imagine being a fan, and high fiving a new player. Doesn’t that turn you on to the team in general? That player? Should Milledge go on to be a big league star, he has surely created fans who will follow him throughout his career.

I’m glad Milledge has come out and said, “Look, I didn’t do anything wrong here”. I’d like to see more of this type of thing in the majors, and someone standing up for it should point out to most how stupid this rule is. I can understand if someone is gloating toward another team’s dugout, or at the opposing team’s fans. But this was a celebration, not someone showing up the other team.

Also, Lastings Milledge is the best name in baseball I’ve seen in a long time. Sounds like a name that you would have seen playing in the late 1800s or early 1900s along with Dizzy Dean. Here’s to a long career celebrating with your own fans, Lastings.

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