Jim Palmer – six-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion, three-time Cy Young winner and first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee – dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss numerous baseball topics, including, yes, bat-flipping.
“In our era, if you pointed (or showed players up), guys wouldn’t be very happy about it,” Palmer said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I never pointed at guys, I never tried to show up guys – because their job was to hit me and my job was to get them out. When I got them out, I was just doing my job.”
Palmer, the author of “Nine Innings to Success: A Hall of Famer’s Approach to Achieving Excellence,” recently discussed this very topic with Twins manger Paul Molitor.
“When I was talking to Paul, he said, ‘I don’t mind celebratory events when it’s a team-oriented thing,’” Palmer recalled. “I look at the Toronto series. They’re down 2-0, they win Games 3 and 4, they go back to Toronto, they’re down in the seventh inning, Sam Dyson ends up getting in trouble and Bautista hits the thee-run home run. Monumental. Toronto had the MVP in (Josh) Donaldson. John Gibbons, I really like John. I thought that was a pretty momentous occasion. So if you’re going to flip a bat, (that’s when you do it). It’s not like you’re hitting a solo home run (in a meaningless game).”
Palmer, however, disagreed with Noah Syndergaard’s decision to hit – or at least try to hit – Chase Utley this past weekend. In an obvious act of retaliation for Utley’s take-out slide of Ruben Tejada in the 2015 NLDS – which left Tejada with a broken leg and ended his season – Syndergaard whizzed a 99-mile-per-hour fast ball behind Utley on Saturday and was promptly ejected.
Palmer, 70, thought Syndergaard deserved worse.
“He should have been suspended,” Palmer said. “It was so obvious what he (did was on purpose). I’m very surprised. If he had been suspended, which is really the risk you take – not to mention you get into a fight and somebody gets hurt – is that really worth it? The machoism of trying to throw at somebody? And you didn’t even hit him.”
Looking elsewhere around the league, Palmer, like many, has been extremely impressed with Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, but he believes that Manny Machado deserves to be in the best-young-player-in-the-game discussion.
Machado, 23, is hitting .317 with 13 homers, 29 RBIs, 21 doubles and a .389 OBP this season. He also might be the best defensive player in baseball.
“I’m probably a little biased because I do half the games and I get to see him,” said Palmer, who played for the Orioles from 1965-1984. “He can’t run like he did. He’s gotten bigger. He’s going to turn 24 in a month or two. But he can hit home runs, he can hit doubles, he plays shortstop as good as anyone, he can play third base – he plays different. I played with Brooks Robinson. Hall-of-Famer, MVP, MVP of the World Series, 16 straight Gold Gloves. Brooks was really good – and Brooks will tell you, ‘I don’t know if I could make some of the plays Machado makes.’ So there are a lot of real good young players out there now.”