Bat flips and moral philosophy?

Revised on Oct. 19. When Toronto slugger Jose Bautista crushed a monster “homerun” off the hapless Texas Rangers’ reliever Sam Dyson, Mr Bautista arrogantly chucked his bat to the side before rounding the bases. (The T-shirt pictured below breaks down Bautista’s epic bat flip.) So, what’s wrong with some brashness in baseball? Andrew Keh’s eloquent essay “Baseball reaches a flipping point” sums up the debate this way:

To some, the [bat flip] maneuver symbolizes a break from the gentlemanly principles that have supposedly steered the game across generations. * * * To others, bat flips represent a breath of fresh air in a stuffy sport and reflect the game’s increasingly diverse clubhouses, which feature more and more players from the Latin America and Asia, where such celebrations tend to be more common. * * *

Notice that “reciprocity” or the Golden Rule doesn’t solve this debate at all, since a norm of reciprocity could go either way in this case. Likewise, an argument based on “tradition” doesn’t really carry very much weight either, since we still have to decide which traditions are good and worth keeping and which are bad and worthy of elimination. Lastly, could John Rawls be helpful here? That is, what “bat flip” rule would most people favor from behind a veil of ignorance? (Or, is your guess as good as mine? Yeah, that’s what we thought!) In other words, is there a principled way of solving this debate, or is it just a matter of your personal preference, like so many rules of ethics, law, and morality?

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