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Little Leaguer's Antics Spur Uproar

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Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg was unimpressed with Caesar Garcia on Tuesday, never mind the Altamont Little Leaguer’s three-run home run Tuesday in a nationally televised Southwest Regional game from Waco, Texas.

Garcia and his father, in turn, are unimpressed with Strasburg.

In an eventual 14-6 loss to Lafayette, La. telecast live on ESPN2, Garcia gained some notoriety after he connected on a 1-1 pitch, dropped the bat on a follow-through, walked four steps while admiring his hit and then began his home run trot.

Greg Swindell, a former major league pitcher doing color commentary for the telecast, called Garcia’s reaction “showboating.” Via his Twitter (@stra37) account, Strasburg was more harsh.

“Pretty sad seeing 12 year olds pimp home runs and throwing all curve balls. Times have changed…” the 23-year-old former No. 1 draft pick, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, tweeted at about the time of the blast.

Garcia’s father, Steven, an Altamont assistant coach, said his kid was doing no more than mimicking his favorite baseball player, the Yankees’ Robinson Cano, and, “it’s crazy that a pro baseball player would tweet hateful stuff.”

Meanwhile Caesar, who turned 13 last month, didn’t seem to mind Strasburg’s critique, posting on his own (very accessible to the public) Facebook page, “(A)nd strasburg tweeted about me pimpin my home run!!!!!… blahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh epicness”

Caesar’s 15 minutes of fame extended into prime time Tuesday. SportsCenter showed how his “pimpin” was modeled after Cano. It did a split screen comparing the two. Caesar’s Facebook profile took comments from all over the country. In general, the girls were impressed, the guys were not.

Unwritten (some would say archaic) rules of baseball dictate that home-run hitters don’t react in any way except putting their head down and running the bases briskly. Anything more — standing and admiring the shot, for example — is frowned upon and subject to retribution.

Readers’ reaction to the Journal noted just that. “Just because your hero is in the bigs doesn’t mean he always acts professionally. Hopefully someone will teach you class someday. At the next level you’ll wear the next pitch,” wrote a contributor called “34yo Baseball Tradionalist.”

Another, bigman1985@hotmail.com: “I looked as his Facebook comments and they are embarrassing. He’s 12 years old, he’s cocky and he thinks he’s bigger than the game and better than his teammates. He’ll learn.”

Steven Garcia agrees that there is a learning opportunity for his son. He said he told Caesar that “in high school, college and pros, it would be handled in a certain way. … We had that conversation all the way home.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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