Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Torre to players: Shut up!

As a manager, Joe Torre won four World Series titles, six pennants and more than 4,300 games. He was a consummate professional, engaging, pleasant to deal with from a media perspective, and the game's definition of a winner. But in one of his first initiatives since becoming Major League Baseball's czar of on-field discipline Torre has swung and missed.

Torre is looking to curtail fraternization among players during games, more specifically once fans have entered the ballpark. Greetings from first basemen to opposing arrivals? Nope. Chats between second basemen and base runners? Never. A quick hello from batters to backstops? Not a chance. All a thing of the past, says Torre.

The insinuation is that the game has become too friendly. That the spirit of competition, intensity and focus is lacking in the eyes of the fans. Question is, who's clamoring for this? I've yet to hear one fan bring it up, or player, or manager for that matter.

Certainly there are players and managers, particularly those of previous generations, who frown upon the in-game chatter. There are more than a few current players who keep their on-field friendships to a minimum. But for every one of them there are a few more like Sean Casey or Brandon Phillips who are regular chatterboxes.

Does it lessen their competitive drive on the field? There's no evidence to support that assertion. In most cases it's simply a matter of personality. Joey Votto doesn't whoop it up with opposing players, but the Reds first baseman isn't the most dynamic personality on most days.

Point is, who really believes this is a big deal? Aren't there more pressing issues confronting the game? How about declining attendance? I doubt Phillips asking Albert Pujols about last night's dinner is causing fans to reverse the turnstiles.

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