Brett Gardner is a good baseball player, but he’s more than that. One of the elder statesmen of the Yankee dugout, Gardner is also well-versed in the art of protest, a vital quality for responsible citizens seeking truth, justice, and a reasonably consistent strike zone.
Case in point: in the second inning of the first game of the July 18 doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays, Gardner suffered an egregious called strikeout at the hands of home plate umpire Brennan Miller. Rather than launch into a profanity-filled tirade right then and there, which Aaron Boone provided quite capably later on, Gardner returned to the dugout, where he did this:
Eat your heart out, David Ortiz and your bullpen-phone destroying ways. This is how you express your frustration with a bad call while providing the dugout with both fire and levity (see Hicks’ face in the GIF above).
However, I believe the Yankees have more to offer on this front. The current dugout is filled with characters, ranging from the exuberant and upbeat Didi Gregorius, to the swagger of Luke Voit and Gary Sanchez, to the quiet intensity of guys like Aaron Hicks or DJ LeMahieu. These “savages” should follow Gardner’s lead and introduce a little more creativity in their post-bad call protests. I have taken the liberty of listing a few suggestions below.
Aaron Judge - stand silently behind the umpire for a few moments
Aaron Judge is one of the largest men in baseball. He’s also one of the cooler heads in the Yankees clubhouse, so he probably wouldn’t ever get physical with an umpire. However, he doesn’t need to to put the fear in a stubborn ump’s heart. All he needs to do is remind the umpire of his size.
Giancarlo Stanton - recreate his ESPN Body Issue shoot in the dugout
Fear isn’t the only way to mess with an umpire. Distraction is also an effective means of protest. And what better way to distract the umpire than the most jacked man in baseball showing off his stuff? The logistics are going to be tricky , especially for shots like these -
but with a few well-timed splashes of Gatorade, Stanton should be able to make it work.
Didi Gregorius - immortalize the call in the form of a painting
Protesting during the game is fine, but truly bad calls deserve to be remembered. Nowadays, we have things like YouTube or MLB.TV archives to store our baseball memories. However, I believe Didi can take it to the next level by leveraging his artistic skills. If you truly, truly hate a call, why not turn that anger and frustration into art? I’m thinking a baseball-themed version of Francis Bacon’s 1950 work Study After Velázquez should do nicely.
Aaron Hicks - refer the umpire to his own plate discipline stats on FanGraphs
Aaron Hicks owns a 11.9% walk rate, and has swung at pitches outside of the strike zone just 22.6% of the time over his career. I think he has a pretty good idea of what’s a strike and what isn’t. He should let the umpire know, too.
Luke Voit - fart
I don’t know, it just seems like something he would do. Classic Voit.
Edwin Encarnacion - train a parrot to heckle the umpire from the dugout
It’s time for Edwin to fully embrace the potential of his ornithological home run trot. All he has to do is obtain one of them goofy-looking birds and teach it to say “our guys are savages in that (redacted) box” every once in a while. Of course, depending on the frequency of the bird calls, the schtick could get pretty annoying even for fans. Plus, it would be pretty demoralizing for the players to hear the bird extol the virtues of the Yankees’ plate discipline while they’re being dominated by Justin Verlander or Charlie Morton or whoever else is pitching well that day. Still, there’s potential here for a dugout fixture.