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A curious definition of “old school”

Sep 27, 2013, 2:09 PM EDT

Crols Gomez Brian McCann AP

Dave O’Brien’s column about the McCann-Gomez thing is kinda hilarious. It extolls Brian McCann‘s “old school” mentality of getting up in Gomez’s face. He then added this:

I heard Billy Wagner interviewed on the radio today, and he was asked about what happened. Wagner said if it had happened when he played for the Astros, Gomez wouldn’t have made it past first base because Jeff Bagwell would have started a fight with him.

Old school.

Note: Jeff Bagwell never fought a guy on the basepaths in his entire career. And O’Brien admits that he’s never seen a catcher do what McCann did. Query: how is something “old school” if it’s totally unprecedented? He goes on:

In the past, no hitter would have pulled that stunt against the likes of Bob Gibson, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez … against any hard-throwing pitcher or a team with a hard-throwing pitcher going the next day. Because he’d have gotten a fastball in the ribs as a message, and wouldn’t get tossed because umpires would not have given warnings beforehand

Again, a path not taken by McCann and the Braves. I don’t condone beanings, but at least that would’ve been an old school move. You wouldn’t have seen John Roseboro blocking the baseline. He’d let Sandy Koufax or Don Drysdale handle it. McCann didn’t give his pitcher a chance to be “old school.”

Wait, there’s more!

By the way, can you even imagine if Chipper had done something like that at third base late in his career, when he was in full-on icon mode and seemingly every week provided a new moment to remember from him? They’d have made posters of that moment.

But he never did it either. He let Maddux and Smoltz and those guys hit people. Or he would’ve just gone and rapped a double off the wall the next inning and been happy to laugh at an immature jerk playing for a fourth place team 22 games out of first while he was on his way to the playoffs for the tenth year in a row.

You see where I’m going with this. There was nothing old school about what McCann did. You can like it if you want. You can say it was evidence of a mindset you like. But it wasn’t old school. McCann was not upholding some grand tradition. He was just being a hothead.

But there is one “old school” element to all of this. It’s totally old school for a beat writer to praise the guys he needs to get quotes from, no matter how disingenuous he has to be in order to do it. That’s just about as old as the game itself.

  1. chiadam - Sep 27, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    Actually, he’s a Barves fan. He said so himself in between grating and redundant “look at what this moron said” blog updates.

  2. jwbiii - Sep 27, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    “Old school” is checking to make sure a catcher’s cup is positioned correctly if he blocks the plate.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 27, 2013 at 5:18 PM

      Wow. Look how high off the ground he is. Looks like he’s “Kung Fu Fiiigtiiing.”

  3. thetruth702 - Sep 27, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    and how was mccan a hothead? dude was being a punkass b****. you don’t act like that in baseball..players are not going to allow baseball to become all ghetto like the NFL and NBA. keep it a classy sport in that regard and act like you have done it before. act like a pro

    • crackersnap - Sep 27, 2013 at 7:42 PM

      …said every baseball player who never had the chance to dance and mug like an idiot in a walk-of celebration.

  4. atlfan31833 - Sep 27, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    If someone was punking your brother would you stick up for him?

    For any of the posters or writers that have never played sports before you need to know that a ream has a sense of family. I’ve gone to a teammate’s defense in both baseball and basketball. That’s what TEAMS do. If you don’t understand that basic principle then you were never on a real TEAM.

  5. bills399 - Sep 27, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    u people comparing this to babe Ruth and the cubs are pure idiots. Ruth single handedly saved baseball… himself. he will get more respect them Gomez, who surprisingly…..all of a sudden……began to hit, and with power…hmmmm.

  6. ducksnort13 - Sep 27, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    I’m a long time reader and first time commenter. I usually enjoy Craig’s takedowns of other blowhard baseball writers, but this one struck me as, well, weak and logically flawed and maybe a bit lazy. I’m sure I’ll get 147 thumbs down and a couple tl;dr’s, but I’m going to attempt a takedown of the takedown of O’Brien’s article.

    First point: O’Brien “extolls Brian McCann‘s “old school” mentality”. Totally agree with you Craig, he does exactly that. (Crap, this takedown is not off to a good start!)

    Second: Craig wrote: “Note: Jeff Bagwell never fought a guy on the basepaths in his entire career.”
    Query: When did O’Brien say that he did? O’Brien even wrote after the Wagner quote: “Maybe Wags was exaggerating. Maybe not.” Is O’Brien’s point a strong one? Probably not but Craig’s “countering” fact is even weaker, given that the quote was regarding a hypothetical situation that never occurred.

    Third: Regarding the old school beaning approach: Craig wrote, “McCann didn’t give his pitcher a chance to be “old school.” True, but with an easy counterpoint. I don’t think anyone would confuse Maholm as a “hard-throwing pitcher” and as the last game of the series, there was no “hard-throwing pitcher going the next day”. In other words, the traditional approach wouldn’t play out unless Kimbrel gets in the game to face Gomez, which is no where near guaranteed.

    continued…(sorry, i know it’s long. I promise never to post something this long again.)

    • ducksnort13 - Sep 27, 2013 at 7:45 PM

      Final: Regarding the Chipper hypothetical: Craig wrote, “But he never did it either. He let Maddux and Smoltz and those guys hit people.” And this leads to my biggest problem with Craig’s entire argument. O’Brien notes that McCann’s actions were unprecedented, which Craig points out. However, O’Brien also points out that he “had never seen anyone be quite so over-the-top classless after a home run as was Gomez.” And that I believe is the entire point of his article. Not that McCann was following the old school precedent handed down through the ages, but that given an unprecedented situation where the old school actions wouldn’t necessarily play out and work, he went with his old school mentality and got in Gomez’s face. O’Brien’s point is that he’s condoning McCann’s action as an appropriate old school response. Craig, you probably disagree, but saying so is a lot better than trotting out some poor arguments against O’Brien’s logic.

      That said, I look forward to reading more of your posts. I generally really enjoy them!

  7. ducksnort13 - Sep 28, 2013 at 1:43 AM

    After re-reading what I left in my comment, I want to apologize to Craig for calling his post lazy. It was Friday afternoon after all. I was barely functioning at my job by that time. Wishing everyone a pleasant weekend!

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2013 at 8:49 AM

      Good posts Duck. Keep em’ coming.

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