Juan Soto’s HR swagger riles traditionalists, sparks controversy over code breach

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While Juan Soto has only played two games for the Yankees, his presence is already making a significant impression. This impact extends beyond traditional baseball metrics like bat speed and exit velocity.

Juan Soto’s unique combination of elite talent and enthusiastic celebration has sparked conversations among fans and players alike. This dynamic was on display recently as he hit two near-identical home runs – a 428-foot blast on Sunday and a line drive that narrowly missed going over the wall on Monday.

On both occasions, Juan Soto remained at the plate to admire his hits, a move viewed by some as a subtle display of dominance. While traditionalists consider such actions a violation of baseball etiquette, he suggests this is simply part of his routine.

Juan Soto draws old-school ire

Teammates have been particularly impressed by Juan Soto’s work ethic, which they describe as “obsessive.” His intense dedication to the game is evident in his training and preparation. Additionally, his competitive spirit is described as “savage,” highlighting his unwavering desire to win.

Juan Soto hit a home run during his Yankees' debut against the Toronto Blue Jays on February 25, 2024.
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Beyond his on-field skills, he possesses a unique ability to captivate the audience with his performances. Teammates acknowledge that his presence on the field generates an “off-the-charts” level of excitement and engagement, potentially inspiring both his teammates and the fans.

Over back-to-back games, the phenom launched mirror-image moonshots warranting awe. But in the aftermath, traditionalists bristled at Juan Soto’s batter box bump, speed, and stare, taking his admiration as violating the sport’s unwritten code of humility.

To him, lingering to appreciate one’s own feats reflects personal process more than showmanship. Yet for some, his ritual toasts talent before respecting opponents. In the end, he remains an anomaly – fusing Ruthian drives with contemporary flair. And as MLB evolves aesthetically if not attitudinally, his brand of youthful exuberance collisions with old-guard conventions.

While Juan Soto’s celebratory style sparks excitement for some fans, it doesn’t resonate universally. Unlike him, some players, like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, celebrate home runs with a more subdued approach. This preference for less demonstrative celebrations extends to other members of the Yankees roster.

As one of the most established and historically conservative franchises in baseball, the Yankees typically adhere to a more traditional approach, similar to their policy on facial hair. However, the organization acknowledges the unique circumstances surrounding Juan Soto’s talent and impact.

Juan Soto justifies his style

He expressed that if a pitcher manages to strike him out, he can celebrate as he wishes, acknowledging the achievement. He emphasized the fairness in allowing pitchers to celebrate such victories, as there are no restrictions on their expressions of triumph. However, he asserted his determination to prevail in future encounters, highlighting that such back-and-forth exchanges are inherent to the game.

Looking ahead to Opening Day, Juan Soto hints at potentially continuing his expressive celebrations, including spontaneous bat flips. He shows no indication of altering his style, suggesting fans can expect more “fireworks” on the field.

Juan Soto stated that bat flipping is an integral aspect of baseball. He emphasized that when achieving a significant hit or home run during crucial moments, he intends to perform such actions.

Boone defends his star slugger

Manager Aaron Boone has publicly stated his support for Juan Soto’s individual celebration style, granting him freedom to express himself on the field. This decision highlights the Yankees’ willingness to embrace individual personalities while maintaining the team’s core values.

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The manager remarked that the slugger’s theatrics had never bothered him, even when Juan Soto was playing for the opposing team. He noted that while there were certain players whose actions he found disrespectful and irritating, the Yankees star was not among them.

Boone highlighted that what sets Juan Soto apart is the authenticity and consistency of his rituals, such as the shuffle, the stare-down, and the bat-launch, all stemming from the same demeanor. According to him, the slugger is genuinely intense, and his actions are anything but contrived.

Boone remarked that Juan approaches his plate appearances with a mentality akin to being at war, drawing energy from that intensity. He explained that for Juan, flipping the bat is a natural extension of that competitive mindset, reflecting his genuine enthusiasm for the game.

Juan Soto’s calm demeanor is evident in his approach to media attention. He readily answers questions, welcoming reporters at his locker and fulfilling interview requests. This contrasts with some newcomers who might avoid such interactions.

Juan Soto understands the intense media scrutiny that comes with playing for a high-profile team like the Yankees. He anticipates the questions and actively engages, demonstrating comfort with the spotlight. This proactive approach is well-received in a market where other players have struggled with media attention.

His willingness to engage with the media suggests potential for a long-term stay in New York, beyond the 2024 season, assuming the circumstances are favorable. His comfort with the media may indicate a wider level of comfort with the New York market and its demands.

Juan Soto stays focused

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Despite the repetitive nature of some media inquiries, Juan Soto maintains a positive demeanor in his interactions. He consistently shows a willingness to answer questions and engage in constructive dialogue with reporters.

The slugger mentioned that he’s ready for the questions and has no issue answering them. He acknowledged that everyone is curious about whether he’ll stay with the Yankees.

Juan Soto stated that he has been consistently truthful about his approach, emphasizing his sole focus on baseball. He expressed his desire to secure a championship with the team and delegated matters concerning free agency to Scott Boras.

His Yankees teammates are keenly observant of his contributions. He has not only integrated well with fellow Spanish-speaking players but has also earned recognition from the team’s leadership council, comprising Judge, Anthony Rizzo, and Gerrit Cole, who already consider him a cornerstone.

Gleyber Torres praised Juan, stating that he is well-liked by everyone. Torres expressed that Juan doesn’t feel like someone who just arrived from another team; rather, it feels as if he has been with the Yankees for the past eight years.

Such a strong endorsement holds significant weight, especially considering Juan Soto’s short time in camp. It’s still early days – radio announcer John Sterling is yet to finalize a home run call, and the Bleacher Creatures’ roll call initiation is still a month away.

Yet, Juan Soto already expresses, “I feel like a Yankee.”

Is it possible to feel this way so soon?

Yankees slugger Juan Soto at Tampa during the 2024 spring training camp.
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Juan Soto expressed that he indeed feels like he’s part of a great group of individuals. Wearing their uniform contributes to his sense of belonging within the team.

The Yankees slugger remains focused on his current season with the New York Yankees, politely declining to engage in discussions about his potential playing location beyond 2024. He acknowledges the public’s interest in his future, even encouraging speculation, but emphasizes that such predictions are ultimately futile.

Instead, the focus remains on the present, where fans can witness the electrifying skills of one of Major League Baseball’s most charismatic sluggers every game. The Yankees, for their part, are undoubtedly captivated by his presence and contributions.

DJ LeMahieu remarked about Juan Soto, mentioning that they observe his approach to work. He noted that Soto doesn’t attempt to hit the ball with maximum force every time, which LeMahieu finds enjoyable to watch. LeMahieu added that there are certainly things to learn from players like Soto.

That holds true to some extent. It’s hard to imagine someone as composed as LeMahieu ever engaging in bat tossing. Similarly, Judge epitomizes the G-rated captain, already established as one of the key figures in the current Yankees lineup.

When it comes to flair, does anyone rival Juan Soto? Volpe seems too young, Stanton too serious, and Rizzo too laid-back.

It appears the slugger will be a standout in his own right, perhaps a lone performer on the stage. So, brace yourselves. The curtains are about to be drawn.

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