Maybe there’s more to this story than meets the eye, but what’s meeting the eye here seems pretty dumb: Royals announcer Rex Hudler has made it his personal mission to stop Royals players from being friendly with opposing players during games, so Ned Yost has put a stop to it.
I’m sure cause and effect will be denied by Yost if he’s asked, but the story about all of this from Jeffrey Flanagan of Fox Sports Kansas City lays it out thusly:
- Royals infielders have been friendly with opposing baserunners, even after some big hits by the opposition.
- Royals announcers Rex Hudler and Ryan Lefebvre have gone on-and-on about it on the air and on recent radio spots, saying it’s disrespectful and not old school and whatnot, and that Ned Yost should do something about it.
- Ned Yost held a closed door meeting and has instructed his players to no longer fraternize with the opposition.
This despite the fact that Royals GM Dayton Moore said when asked about it all that he doesn’t think it’s a big deal.
This all seems so silly. Players on every team chat up players on the opposing teams. It’s a state of affairs that has existed for a long time. Probably longer than most of the old timers who claim that it was unheard of back in their day will admit. Why this is bothersome to anyone now is a mystery.
What’s worse, though, is this bit from Hudler:
Hudler commented on Kansas City radio station WHB: “You can stand 10 feet away from a player and smooth out the dirt and still talk to a player without giving the appearance that you’re in his back pocket. When you’re in uniform out there, respect the game of baseball and respect your teammates. And stay out of the back pockets of opponents when people are watching. It makes me want to vomit.”
So it’s not that Hudler is opposed to players talking to one another. He’s just opposed to them looking like they are because “people are watching.” So who is it, exactly, that Hudler thinks the players should be deceiving?
Whatever the case, here’s a great tip to any major league organization: don’t let your broadcasters dictate team policy. You’re unlikely to get good results.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.