There is no doubting the obvious talents of Minnesota Twins’ mega-prospect Miguel Sano, but it appears as if Sano still has a lot to learn about baseball etiquette before he makes his debut in the majors. According to ESPN 1500’s Judd Zulgad’s Twitter account, Zulgad spoke with Paul Molitor this week and Molitor reported that the New Britain Rock Cats—the Twins Double-A affiliate—have decided to sit Sano for “a few days” due to the manner in which he conducted himself after he hit a home run this week. While this may be a small overreaction to a young player demonstrating some emotion, it sends a clear message of the Twins’ organizational expectations and hopefully protects their budding star from future harm.
Sano is one of the most talented prospects to ever come through the Twins’ organization and there are huge expectations for him once he makes it to the majors. Many believe that he and fellow mega-prospect Byron Buxton are the saviors to the struggling Twins’ franchise and could be ready to contribute—in Sano’s case—as early as September of this season or April of next season; but the fact that Sano is being disciplined for a post-home run celebration should be nothing to worry about. Instead, fans should be thankful that the Twins are taking the time now to send a message to their bright young star in order to get him with the proper mindset for when he makes it to the majors.
Too often in baseball and sports today, players get involved with showing too much emotion after a big play or even the most routine play. Sports are an entertainment business and the players are putting on a show for the fans who like to see the displays of emotion, but there is a fine line between displaying emotion and being disrespectful or unsportsmanlike. In Sano’s case, Sano hit a huge home run during a big moment in the game and celebrated excessively after the home run. I am not positive what he fully did during his celebration to merit the discipline—you can view the homerun by clicking here if you’d like to take a look for yourself—but he certainly took forever to get down the first baseline which likely means that Sano admired his home run or did some sort of bat flip before starting his home run trot.
Sano’s celebration has no place in the game of baseball simply for the fact that it shows up the pitcher and puts himself at risk for future retaliation later in the game. Even if Sano’s celebration was not that excessive, any celebration—other than a game-winning hit—at all will put a target on his back for a pitcher to possibly throw at him later in the game in response to his home run celebration. This poses a possible injury threat to Sano and if history is any indication, a pitcher can do plenty of damage to a hitter if he throws at them and actually connects. Imagine if a pitcher threw at Sano’s head—and actually connected—in response to Sano showing up the pitcher with a celebration after a home run. Although the pitcher’s response would be highly scrutinized, Sano’s career could be in jeopardy because of the dangers connected with head injuries. In the end, all of this could be prevented by Sano not celebrating after the home run and simply acting like he has been there before (hitting a home run).
By sitting Sano for a few days, the Twins are not only sending a clear message to Sano about how to conduct himself in this organization, but they are also protecting their investment and key to their future. It’s alright for Sano to get excited on occasion after a big hit, but he needs to contain himself with his excitement so he doesn’t show up the pitcher and invite in some retaliation for him or his teammates. By correcting this issue now, the Twins are protecting themselves from future harm and teaching Sano how they expect their ballplayers to behave. That mindset and discipline should be celebrated by fans, not scrutinized; sadly, not all fans see it that way.
While it may seem like a minimal move now, this discipline could reap huge benefits down the road for the Twins simply because they may be preventing an injury to one of their most prized possessions in Sano.