What's the deal with the convoluted handshakes/hi-fives baseball players have with each other?
August 21, 2006 10:18 AM   Subscribe

What's the deal with the convoluted handshakes/hi-fives baseball players have with each other?

How do they negotiate whose "routine" gets done? Do players make up their own, or do their teammates give them? Do players keep them for years on end, or do they change every season/when they change teams?
posted by mkultra to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total)
It is just like any other sports celebration/routine; I think it is meant to foster a team spirit, create a bond between players, and look cool. (Whether it accomplishes those goals is open to debate.) In Green Bay, they do the Lambeau Leap into the stands after a touchdown. In Denver, they did the Mile High Salute. The 1999 St. Louis Rams had the Bob and Weave. The Oakland A's had the Bash. Mark McGwire (a repeat offender), had that weird overhead bash, chest punch thing with the Cardinals during his 1998 record season. A couple of Los Angeles Clippers (led by Darius Miles) used to pull little antennae out of their heads after a big shot. It goes on and on.

It says "you're my teammate, this belongs to us." Typically, it stays between teammates only. In a profession where you publically celebrate (and where your image and marketability in part depend on your level of coolness), I'd imagine a high five or a slap on the butt gets old and feels stale. And they have time on their hands. And they are 20-something jocks. So they make up goofy, elaborate celebrations.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:07 AM on August 21, 2006

They make up their own, and they're usually specific to players or teams. And they often spend a lot of time working on it (a lot of down time in pro sports....)

From this article about two guys on the Mets:

"For goodness sake, Reyes spent a week in spring training working with Wright on handshakes."
posted by inigo2 at 11:13 AM on August 21, 2006

Consider that pro sports is a multi-quadrillion dollar business - so... entertainment value?
posted by scheptech at 11:13 AM on August 21, 2006

Response by poster: I understand the general "why" of it, but if you actually watch baseball games, players each seem to have their own routine. A player coming home from, say, a home run, will run through several of these on the way to and through the dugout. I suspect that the receiver's routine is what gets done, since the player doesn't repeat the same one over and over with each teammate, but I haven't gone through the effort to cross-reference it all.

I haven't seen anything so individual in any other pro sport; I think it's unique to baseball- that's why I'm asking.
posted by mkultra at 11:25 AM on August 21, 2006

I haven't seen anything so individual in any other pro sport...
Ever seen the various end-zone routines football players have had over the years? The NFL ordered the players to curtail the showy "celebration" dances and whatnot, but you still get the individual "praise be to the lord for letting me make this touchdown" actions.
Admittedly, these tend to be enacted by individual players, and not as a team.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:45 AM on August 21, 2006

It's a secret handshake, and athletes aren't the only ones who use them.
posted by sdrawkcab at 11:48 AM on August 21, 2006

Um...I think it has less to do with secret Masonic handshakes and more with camaraderie and coolness, jock-style. This behavior isn't limited to baseball players, or even athletes in general. Have you hung out with any teenagers recently? No one under 20 uses a standard business handshake.
posted by markcholden at 12:27 PM on August 21, 2006

Response by poster: Look, folks, honestly- I know all about secret handshakes and end-zone celebrations (FWIW, the ones in baseball tend not to be public/for the fans). I'm not intersted in hearing idle speculation- if you've got some actual knowledge about this, I'd love to hear it.
posted by mkultra at 12:48 PM on August 21, 2006

I have actual knowledge of different handshake routines with different people, but not specific to baseball. Back when I was a teenager, my friends and I used to kick back in the Summer and do all kinds of idle timewasters. One of them was coming up with elaborate handshakes. You co-invent them with the other person and that becomes the handshake you do with that person. We definitely got the idea from either baseball or some other professional sport or TV thing. Occasionally the same handshake was taught to another person if it was particularly creative.

Yes, hours were spent on such things and the handshake could have 15+ steps, easily. The more, the better.
posted by empyrean at 1:05 PM on August 21, 2006

Response by poster: What I really want to know is what determines which handshake gets done.

Imagine players A,B,C. Which of the following applies?

- A gives the same handshake to both B and C
- A gets the same handshake from B and C
- A/B, B/C, and A/C each have their own handshake.
posted by mkultra at 1:10 PM on August 21, 2006

I think it's a case of:

A/B, B/C, and A/C each have their own handshake.

with the caveat that, A/B/C may have learned one of the other handshakes (refer back to my "taught to another person if it was particularly creative") and it's either previously decided in the dugout which one they'll do or there's just a physical cue (what angle they bring the hand in, someone says something ("budweiser surprise handshake"), they wink, whatever.

It really is a bonding thing.
posted by empyrean at 1:16 PM on August 21, 2006

ummm, we came up in the hood doing neighborhood handshakes. dont know the handshake, dont get into the neighborhood. most NBA'ers arent far removed from their urban upbringing. even if you didnt grow up hood, its still the thing to do when around hood type. i got all the entitled white guys at my place of business 'giving dap'. i havent been in a ghetto in nearly 10 years, but i still 'grip' my boyz up. its also a black greek fraternity thing (which would include black masons). black frats have elaborate handshakes. look for basketball players with greek letters branded on their arms. you might see a Sigma or an Omega. i have 3 sigmas branded on about my person. its nearly guaranteed: see a brand, see a gratuitious handshake. but not always the reverse. look for Shak to throw up his arms with his hands hooked out. look for emmit smith - in old videos - to make a fist with his index finger and pinky raised. once you see it once, you'll see it all over the place. Jordan is an Omega, he prolly has a number of brands.
posted by Davaal at 6:59 PM on August 21, 2006

Response by poster: Again, I'm asking specifically about baseball, which probably has proportionately fewer blacks, college graduates, or even Americans than either pro basketball or football. It could be that in other sports you simply don't have the time to give it up to your entire team after a sweet play.
posted by mkultra at 7:44 PM on August 21, 2006

Look at what's specific about baseball. On average, a player spends 49% of his time sitting in the dugout, waiting for his turn to go play defence or go to bat.

Think: boredom.
posted by Mr. Blint at 12:57 PM on August 22, 2006

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