The games change, the cultures change, the people change. But the pendulum never stops swinging.
The pendulum might not get Derek Dietrich. It might not get the next Dietrich, either. But it'll swing back soon enough.
Believe it or not, I'm not referencing this:
That was Dietrich purposely pushing the Pirates' faces in the dirt Monday night in Cincinnati after a home run. And I say purposely not because he stood and admired the ball but because of the even-by-his-standard extra pause in the box, then an interminable 27-second round stroll around the bases.
... he didn't ham it up nearly as much. Drop of the bat. Opening stutter-step. Playful shrug toward the Reds' dugout after the third one. But nothing close to Monday, which now clearly represented Dietrich's perceived revenge for the Pirates' perceived overreaction when Chris Archer threw at him.
But again, that's not the pendulum in play here.
Rather, it's this: Pitchers will bite back when it comes to regaining the fear factor.
Baseball's been around for a century and a half and, in all that time, pitchers backing a batter off the plate has been part of it. That might be because they see or sense something soft in the batter's demeanor. Or because they're trying to set up their next pitch. Or to slash the plate in half horizontally. Or, most commonly, to scare the bejeezus out of the opponent:
[caption id="attachment_815753" align="aligncenter" width="800"] ROB ULLMAN / DKPS[/caption]
To take charge. To show who's holding the ball.
Such pitchers are scarce in the modern game. But they won't be. There might never be another Dock Ellis or another Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan or Pedro Martinez. But the pendulum will swing back, and the next will belong to the pitcher. Maybe that personality will be as obnoxious as Dietrich's, maybe it won't. But it'll come. And that pitcher will be debated as much as Dietrich and his bat-flipping, posing, preening ilk are right now.
Ideally, that pitcher would come along in Pittsburgh. But I'll celebrate it wherever it happens. I might even admire it for a couple seconds.