May 9, 2011, 5:11 PM EDT
From Buster Olney’s column yesterday. This seems like something from 1971 not 2011:
Before every game, position players on both teams will gather on the foul lines and do their last sprints before the first pitch, and often this leads to greetings in the outfield behind second base — hearty handshakes and hugs.
If Joe Torre, baseball’s new czar of on-field discipline, has his way, then this kind of thing will be curtailed. Torre has asked club staff members to nudge their players toward curtailing that kind of fraternization after the gates have been opened to fans.
I can’t think of a single reason why this would be a priority for anyone in Major League Baseball. What, you don’t want to show fans that it’s OK to like and respect their competitors? That it’s more than a game and extends into personal rivalry? Isn’t that the exact opposite that the Dodgers and Giants players tried to demonstrate back when they had their first series following the beating of Bryan Stow?
Personally, I watched some of the Cubs-Reds on Saturday and Fox had Brandon Phillips miked up for the game. I found it really enjoyable when Fukudome was at second base and Phillips was talking to him about him abandoning his high leg kick and stuff. I like it when I see former teammates talking to each other on the field before the game. I like to think of baseball players less as gladiators, pit in combat with one another than as people who have a great job and like one another’s company. Is that crazy?
Maybe it is. Maybe Joe Torre would prefer if it baseball fans perceived the game like it was professional wrestling and that guys who actually like one another really didn’t. Maybe we need to impose some sort of kayfabe overlay to all of this to give everyone a bigger bang for their buck. To make them think that the competition they’re about to see isn’t merely enjoyable, exciting and expertly executed, but deadly, deadly serious as well.
Actually, no, we don’t need that. It’s a dumb idea. Let them fraternize, Joe. The game and its fans will find a way to endure it.
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