The Philadelphia Phillies suffered a heartbreaking, 7-6 extra-innings loss at the hands of the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. 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. They wanted to know: Was he bothered by Ronald Acuña Jr.'s celebration while he was running the bases after 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 he can't control it, so he tries to not 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 best pitchers. More importantly, the home run broke a 1-1 tie and put the Braves up 3-1 on the Phillies. Acuña celebrated accordingly, holding his arms out straight and flapping his hands like a bird while he jogged around the diamond. His teammates in the dugout did the same motion back.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 12, 2023
Thomson appears to let his own players celebrate however they want. When they get on base, they 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 his postgame TV interview, other players douse him with liquid or seeds or random dugout trash while 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 maybe a bit showy, since it's a celebration that was done while actively running the bases, but consider these facts before making a judgment:
The Braves have a 95-50 record, at least three games better than any other team 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. He has a top-five batting average (.333), top-five on-base percentage (.415) and top-five slugging percentage (.586), and he's sixth in home runs with 37.
When a team and its best player are that good, they can do what they want. Because it comes down to one thing: If Thomson doesn't want to see the Braves do their home run celebrations, well, the Phillies should stop giving up home runs.