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Phillies’ Rick Kranitz brings ‘Sensitive Bus’ to clubhouse

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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia published a column on Wednesday detailing one of the ways the Phillies are trying to help build clubhouse camaraderie. At some point last season, head pitching coach Rick Kranitz brought the “Sensitive Bus” into the Phillies’ clubhouse and he has brought it back for the 2018 season.

The “Sensitive Bus” is a yellow toy school bus, adorned with a whining emoji, that gets placed in a player’s locker if he’s deemed to have been too sensitive.

Kranitz said, “You know, sometimes guys get a little sensitive about things. They start jabbing each other a little, getting under each others’ skin. It doesn’t even have to be about baseball. You have to have tough skin. The boys, they don’t ever want the bus in their locker.”

Kranitz added, “If somebody gets on somebody’s nerves and there’s some sensitivity, I’ll just go get it and put it in their locker. Hey, I might put it in my own locker.”

On the one hand, this type of team-building exercise is a step above some of the stunts used in the past, like making rookies dress up like women and wear pink backpacks.

On the other hand, this is still problematic because it teaches men — in the case of the Phillies’ clubhouse: young, impressionable men — that being sensitive is a bad thing. It’s not. If someone doesn’t like something that a fellow teammate said or did, his environment should make him feel comfortable enough to speak up and establish his own boundaries. Some teammates you can joke around with, some you can’t. Sometimes a player will have a bad day or a bad week and not be in the mood to joke around. That’s life; that’s people. Those that don’t enjoy silliness — whether in that moment or in general — shouldn’t have to silently suffer because Kranitz wants to promote toxic masculinity in Gabe Kapler’s clubhouse.

When Kapler got hired, the Phillies were essentially saying to fans that they were going to change up the way things had been done. The front office is now very analytically-oriented, for example. The Phillies are going to experiment with mid-inning outfield realignment. So, it’s surprising that someone as forward-thinking as Kapler would allow Kranitz to implement such a retrograde team-building exercise in his clubhouse.

Tony Clark: Universal DH ‘gaining momentum’ among players

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Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark met the press late this morning and covered a wide array of topics.

One of them: free agency, which he referred to as being “under attack” based on the slow market for free agents last offseason.

“What the players saw last offseason was that their free-agent rights were under attack on what has been the bedrock of our system,” Clark said. He added that they “have some very difficult decisions to make.” Presumably in the form of grievances and, down the road, a negotiating strategy that seeks to claw back some of the many concessions the union has given owners in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. CBAs, it’s worth noting, that Clark negotiated. We’ve covered that territory in detail in the past.

Of more immediate interest was Clark’s comment that the idea of a universal designated hitter is, among players, “gaining momentum.” Clark says “players are talking about it more than they have in the past.” We’ve talked a lot about that as well.

Given that hating or loving the DH is the closest thing baseball has to a religion, no one’s mind is going to be changed by any of this, but I think, practically speaking, it’s inevitable that the National League will have the DH and I think it happens relatively soon. Perhaps in the next five years. The opposition to it at this point is solely subjective and based on tradition. People like pitchers batting and they like double switches and they like the leagues being different because they, well, like it. If the system were being set up today, however, they’d never have it this way and I think even the DH-haters know that well. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dislike a universal DH, but it does mean that you can’t expect the people who run the game to cater to that preference when it makes little sense for them to do it for their own purposes.

Anyway, enjoy convincing each other in the comments about how the side of that argument you dislike is wrong.