If you’ve watched the first two games of the Giants-Braves series, you probably saw it.
Melky Cabrera catches a fly ball for the final out of the inning. He turns to the fans and pretends to flip the ball to one of them. Instead, he holds on to the ball, cracks a wry smile and jogs back to the dugout.
It’s not uncommon to see players do that. They’ll be showered with boos, but I’ve seen plenty of outfielders do that.
What is less common are the other gestures cameras have seen Cabrera doing during the two games.
Braves players have seen Cabrera’s antics. And they don’t like them.
As Cabrera returned to the Giants dugout following his sixth inning, game-tying home run, he made a crotch-chop gesture, presumably a mocking of the chop made by Braves’ fans to support their team.
It’s been well-publicized that Cabrera was out of shape and didn’t play well in Atlanta during 2010. Manager Bobby Cox was not a Melk Man. The Braves didn’t even offer Cabrera a contract after his debacle of a season two years ago.
Melky didn’t limit the taunting to fans. He aimed one discreet taunt towards a former teammate. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Cabrera caught a fly ball and with his glove, motioned towards Braves outfielder Jason Heyward that he should try and tag up from second. Heyward held his ground at second.
Once again, the Braves were paying attention.
After the game, Braves icon Chipper Jones shared some choice words:
“That’s Melky, and that’s why he’s not here anymore. He got a little happy when I think Blanco hit the home run. That won’t be forgotten.”
Manager Bruce Bochy is going to try to put an end to this:
Bochy said he would talk to Melky about taunting Braves. "That's unlike Melky. I don't think Melky means to. It was more about having fun."
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 19, 2012
Safe to say, Melky is going to have a bruise somewhere on his body before Thursday’s game is over.
CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman had a wry take on the friction between Cabrera and the Braves’ fans:
boy, #melky is unpopular in atlanta. guess we can scratch them off as a free agent destination
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 19, 2012