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Joe Torre wants baseball players to cut down on the fraternization. Why?

May 9, 2011, 5:11 PM EDT

Torre and Randolph

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.

  1. yankeesfanlen - May 9, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    Joe Torre is doing this through the Col’s Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston, channelling it in a dream he had of George M. Steinbrenner’s III’s ghost.

  2. Senor Cardgage - May 9, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    I’m always impressed how you find the exact right picture for an article. It makes me wonder how detailed your categorization system is.

  3. jamie54 - May 9, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    It’s a GAME for crying out loud. I’m sick of that warrior type attitude where you are supposed to hate the opposition no matter who it is. These days with free agency and player movement from team to team friendships develop off the field also. Leave the hate for the battlefields where the true heroes reign and it’s kill or be killed, time to get past that early era mindset.

  4. IdahoMariner - May 9, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    Seriously, Joe. Find something actually useful to do. Like push along the A’s relocation, and get instant replay (the version with a 5th ump watching the video and able to instantly overrule).

    But please stay out of managing th eplayers’ relationships with each other. It’s great to see them out there having a good time. It’s part of what makes the game great to me. I don’t want to watch a bunch of people who seem to hate each other play. I love the concept that you can get along with your competition and still work your ass off to bury them on the scoreboard.
    Life’s hard enough.
    Can’t we all just get along, Joe?

  5. sanzarq - May 9, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    Joe should figure out a way to get rid of Joe West, “Balkin” Bob Davidson and a few other crappy umpires, instead of worrying about this stuff.

  6. natstowngreg - May 9, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    As a paying customer, it doesn’t bother me the least little bit. Guys can chat before games and play hard during them.

    Torre goes back to the days of the Bob Gibson attitude of opponent as hated enemy. Never thought much of it.

  7. seano21 - May 9, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    I hate Joe torre as a Yankee fan but he’s exactly right. I dont need to see jeter giggling at shortstop with pedroia on second when the yankees are down 6-1. Be friends after the game, during the game talk to your own team.

    • Steve A - May 10, 2011 at 10:00 AM

      Torre’s plan is to cut down on the pre-game fraternization, not the in-game stuff.

      I understand your point that seeing a player on a losing team laughing with the opposition during the game can be demeaning to the paying customer. However, an innocuous meeting at second base during the course of play is hardly off-limits.

  8. The Rabbit - May 9, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    Joe, you really do need to find another job. This is your second reported idea within the last month that truly sucks.
    Your first stroke of genius was to suggest that umpires be “more involved”. Some of us would like to see less not more involvement. I personally think that a few of the more notorious should be required to take Prozac.
    Regarding this flash of brilliance: This may be the only time that I have found the phrase “think of the children” remotely relevant. The idea that there can be camaraderie among opposing teams is a healthy concept. It does not in any way diminish competition. If we can encourage that thought process in kids, perhaps they can help discourage their nutty parents from the abuse and violence that coaches, children and parents from other teams, and officials endure at amateur and children’s athletics.

    • Jonny 5 - May 10, 2011 at 8:22 AM

      We have something like 5 elementary schools and around 10 teams at my sons age level, and these kids have played with/ against each other since they were 5 in many cases. And one of the coolest things I get to see the kids do is go and chat with their “old buddies” and classmates after the game that they just opposed. It’s almost as fun as seeing a 8-9 year old catcher and pitcher have a meeting on the mound, covering their mouths with their gloves like the pros do. If the Pro’s show less respect to the opposing team, the kids probably will too. I mean they cover their mouths with their gloves, As if lip reading spies will be lurking at little league. LOL!

      • natstowngreg - May 10, 2011 at 7:56 PM

        LOL indeed. Let MLB fpocus on the bad player/manager/umpire behavior, the stuff kids should not emulate.

  9. danderoo - May 9, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    Joe, why don’t you just write another tell-all book about your time with the Dodgers, like you did with the Yankees? What good are you in the commissioner’s office? Is this the best you can do? Is this your lasting contribution? Get out while you still have some semblance of a baseball reputation. You are truly out of your element. Go fishing. Drive around the country and visit our national parks. Cry at the Basillica, for gosh sakes. Just go.

  10. henryd3rd - May 9, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    This is what happens when you have worked for two of the strangest owners, i.e. Steinbrenner and McCourt in baseball. One looses perspective on what is important in life. Baseball is a game first and a business second. That why it is called a baseball game. It gives us a reprieve from our everyday lives and troubles and brings joy at time as well as grief. Don’t make it more serious then it actually has to be. George made it seem like his teams were at war with the opposition. McCourt is at war with is wife. Joe lighten up and enjoy the game

  11. baseballisboring - May 10, 2011 at 12:34 AM

    as a red sox fan…i don’t want to see red sox/yankees players fraternizing. i enjoy my demographically influenced, completely unfair hatred for all things new york. other than that…yeah, i like watching people goofing around and getting along. does that make me a wimp?

  12. frankvzappa - May 10, 2011 at 5:22 AM

    1971? closer to 1939 methinks…germany

  13. florida76 - May 10, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    I think some of these comments about this issue are missing the point. Joe Torre isn’t asking players to hate one another, and that wasn’t widespread back in the day, either. I can see the need for more professionalism and competitiveness, some of the greetings you see between opposing players look like they haven’t seen one another in a decade. Even all star players don’t give maximum effort all the time, and that’s a by product of this relaxed environment.

    It is troubling to see the casual attitude with joking and smiles when a team is losing, you see it on TV with conservations between opposing players when batters are on base. Yes, it’s not war, but there should be more professionalism. Sports do reflect our society in general, and we are more laid back and less competitive, with a reduced sense of urgency. This is having negative consequences for our country overall, which transcend sports.

    Bottom line, there should be a middle ground where professionalism is the top priority.

    • mogogo1 - May 10, 2011 at 7:34 PM

      Transcends sports? Because you sit at work and hate on the people you know at other companies in order to keep things “professional”? I can understand getting pissed about guys yucking it up during the game, but Torre is talking about guys not being able to say hello during warmups. And at a time when you’ve got some fans literally trying to kill opposing fans, is this really a smart time to try and eliminate commaraderie on the field? I’ve been a big Torre fan over the years, but he seems to have completely lost touch.

  14. Steve A - May 10, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    The players of yesteryear have little in common with today’s players. Players make so much money now that being a baseball player is a full-time, 365 day job. They view a baseball game more like a workplace than a battlefield. The competitive drive comes from trying to play well, not from hating the other team. The players in the 60s and 70s had to work in the offseason to make a living. Also, they did not switch teams with the regularity of today’s players, so it was a lot less likely that they knew each other socially.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t see a problem with players meeting up before a game and chatting during a game. This is especially true when the number of cross-team friendships are so plentiful due to greater player movement.

  15. phaseetious - May 10, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    The War on Performance-Enhancing Fraternization (PEFs) has begun.

  16. rcali - May 10, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    Didn’t he retire a few years ago. Whatever was sitting on that Dodger bench last year didn’t have a pulse.

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