Dennis Eckersley is wrong to criticize Marcus Stroman for showing emotion on the mound

Alex Reimer
June 24, 2019 - 10:42 am

Dennis Eckersley is one of the few baseball analysts around who will actually dare to criticize players for poor performance or behavior, and he is applauded for his efforts. But that doesn’t mean everything he says is correct and must be supported. His grouchy quip about Marcus Stroman’s post-strikeout yelp embodies the suffocating veneer that prohibits the game of baseball from crossing over into the 21st Century. Eckersley, purveyor of beloved fastball euphemisms such as “cheese” and “educated cheese,” comes across as the crotchety one here.

At the end of the sixth inning Sunday in the Red Sox’ dismal 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays, Stroman fanned Eduardo Nunez with nobody on base. The animated right-hander stood on the mound and roared before heading back to the dugout, prompting Eckerlsey to call his mannerisms “tired.”

Stroman lashed back after the game and called Eckerlsey’a comments “trash.” Then he shared a 17-second clip from an ESPN special on Eckerlsey, in which he defended his propensity for celebrating excessively on the mound.

“Hypocrite,” Stroman wrote.

Eckersley has a history of agitating players, from Jackie Bradley Jr. snapping a passive aggressive picture with him during the midst of one of his slumps –– Eck had been critical of JBJ on TV –– to David Price verbal assaulting him on the airplane for saying “yuck” about one of Eduardo Rodriguez’s subpar rehab starts. There seems to be a personal tinge to Stroman’s rebuttals, which is immature at best. 

But Stroman has a point. It is hypocritical for Eckersley to admonish a pitcher for doing what he did on the mound with regularity. As Twitter user “Rob Freidman” points out, Eckersley’s Wikipedia page even contains a section about his notorious celebratory gestures. And Wikipedia would never lie, right?

“He was aggressive and animated on the mound, and he was known for his intimidating stare and pumping his fist after a strikeout,” the article says.

Stroman’s recent history with the Red Sox may have prompted Eck’s remark. Earlier this season, Stroman quick pitched Michael Chavis, prompting Chris Sale to holler at him from the dugout. But tensions didn’t escalate, and some Red Sox players even appeared to enjoy themselves Sunday, as Stroman was mowing them down. Mookie Betts flashed several grins in Stroman’s direction and Christian Vazquez tipped his helmet after striking out. Eckersley sarcastically said Betts’ smiles were “cute.”

Eckersley is fun to listen to, largely because he appears to enjoy himself in the booth. Too bad he seemed annoyed when Stroman was doing the same thing. 

Related: Marcus Stroman calls Dennis Eckersley ‘trash’ after Eckersley calls Stroman’s on-field theatrics against Red Sox ‘tired’