Josh Naylor ‘rocking the baby’ is the latest instance of major league cockiness

Ryan Raggio, Staff Writer

I’m all for showing emotion in the MLB after a home run or any big moment. If there were a campaign about wearing one’s emotions on their sleeve, I would be running it. That’s the way I play when I’m out on the field. However, I draw the line when it comes to how the player historically performs against the pitcher and how the game progresses. 

In game four of the 2022 American League Divisional Series, Cleveland Guardians first baseman Josh Naylor came up to the plate with his team down by two in the fourth inning. On a 2-2 count against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, Naylor lined the ball to right-center field for a home run, making the score 3-2 Yankees. 

As Naylor was running the bases, he made a cradling motion with his arms while rounding first base, while he was heading to third, and while he rounded third also staring down Cole briefly. I think it would be appropriate for me to disclose that I am a Yankee fan. 

I was at my cousin’s wedding when I watched Naylor perform the cradling celebration. My brother wondered why I looked perplexed at the reception hall as we were being served our pasta dish. 

As Naylor went around the bases, many thoughts bombarded my head. The first was that it was awesome — not his cradling, but having the city of Cleveland fired up behind you while celebrating a home run. This would give anyone goosebumps. The second thought I had was, “Maybe we should throw at him the next at-bat.” The last thing I wondered about was what his statistics were against Cole that he felt the need to call him his, “fucking son.”

In my opinion, strong statistics help to justify an obnoxious celebration. If a hitter was batting .500 against the pitcher and hits one out, especially in the postseason, then go nuts. But if the hitter has one hit in 20 at-bats against the pitcher, he should grab a couple of high fives and get ready to go back in the field.  Additionally, if it wasn’t a game tying or go-ahead home run, then I feel that ridiculing someone after that is pointless. Naylor’s home run meant nothing. At the time it posed as a potential spark for the Cleveland offense, but it was snuffed out and Naylor looked like an idiot.

Naylor has been known to show emotion in his celebrations. After a go-ahead home run in Chicago, he yelled at the crowd, “I want all the smoke.” After a walk-off home run against the Minnesota Twins when he grabbed Head Coach Terry Francona’s head in excitement following a walk-off in June. 

Naylor is five for 18 with three home runs and five strikeouts against Cole for his career and this season he is one for nine with his only hit this year being the aforementioned home run. The stats aren’t unimpressive, but they are far from having the right to call someone your son. If Naylor had a batting average above .500 against Cole, then that would be a different story and I would admit that he is Cole’s father. 

 The Guardians ended up losing game four, 4-2, and game five, 5-1. Naylor became public enemy No. 1 in The Bronx as the crowd chanted, “Who’s your daddy?” reminiscent of when the Yankee faithful would chant this phrase at Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez. 

After the game five final, Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres caught the ball, stepped on second base, stared down Naylor and fired back with his cradling celebration, mocking him. When I saw this I was yelling at the television, screaming things that I can’t publish, but I was very happy with Torres after it. 

Looking back at it now, I feel that Naylor’s celebration was so stupid. Even more so now because the Guardians lost game four and the home run meant nothing. The celebration was not necessary. Being so cocky to call someone your son after a home run is not the kind of emotion I enjoy watching. 

I am all about the energetic forearm bumps, shouting the phrase, “let’s go,” or even screaming a couple of cuss words in pure emotion because to me, it shows how much a player cares and fights to win. Naylor’s celebration was cocky and unneeded, and karma paid him a visit in yesterday’s series clincher when the Guardians fell to the Yankees, giving Torres the last laugh by doing it back. 

I thought the celebration was unnecessary, but Cole thought it was, “cute.”