In most cases, waving a white towel is a sign of surrender. For the New York Mets, it means something different. Curtis Granderson started the trend a couple days ago and it has taken off since. Now, almost every player, and even 61 year-old pitching coach Dan Warthen is whipping white Gatorade towels over his head to celebrate hits and home runs.
“It just popped in my head, and we’ll do that when we get a hit. We started doing it and then a couple other guys did it and now we just needed the guy on the base to do it back. Then it got a little bigger. Now we’ve seen the guys in the bullpen doing it and some of the fans in the stands are doing it,” Granderson said.
A team-wide celebration to congratulate a player isn’t new to baseball. In 2010, the Texas Rangers used a similar system as the Mets. When a Ranger stole a base or stretched a single into a double, he would be serenaded with “antlers” from the dugout. When a player got a hit, he would put a hand over his head in the shape of a bear claw. The dugout would do the same. In 2011, Jose Reyes and a few other Mets adopted the claw.
Last season, the Boston Red Sox rode their bushy beards all the way to a World Series title.
The importance of team chemistry can often be overstated in sports. A team that doesn’t get along will almost always implode, but good chemistry doesn’t guarantee a championship. It certainly doesn’t hurt, though.
While a unique celebratory hand signal or a team-building facial accessory isn’t necessary for a championship team, it’s a good way to unite fans with the players.
Who knows, maybe the Mets will be giving out rally towels at Game 7 of the 2014 World Series. When David Wright crushes a home run, the whole stadium will by waving the white towel.