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A curious definition of “old school”

Sep 27, 2013, 2:09 PM EST

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.

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