Ned Yost Bans On-Field Fraternizing, But Why?

Manager Ned Yost #3 of the Kansas City Royals argues with umpire Rob Drake #30 after Alex Gordon was ejected from the game for tossing his bat in the air after being called out on strikes in the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Yost was also ejected from the game. The Royals won 4-3. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Hey, it's real easy to mock the last-place team. After all, there's a reason they're in last place, and usually the reason is poor management. Largely in the front office, but sometimes in the dugout and the clubhouse as well.

The Royals are in last place. They've got the worst record in the American League, and they've lost five straight, including four straight to the last-place Mariners.

So it's easy to make fun of them.

And who better to make fun of them than my friend Craig Calcaterra; after all, he practically invented making fun!

Today, the occasion is this ...

I've missed this during the broadcasts, but apparently Rex Hudler has been complaining on the air about various Royals "fraternizing" with opposing players during the games, sometimes after the opposing players have gotten big hits (and there have been a lot of those lately). And according to Fox Sports Kansas City's Jeffrey Flanagan, Royals manager Ned Yost has told his players to cut it out.

Here's Craig:

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.

Look, this is all a matter of opinion. It's Craig's opinion that players in the old days fraternized just as much as they do now, it's Craig's opinion that there absolutely nothing unseemly about such fraternization.

Well, it's my opinion that it's unseemly. I was watching a game the other day, and a guy hit a double and when he got to second base he and the shortstop were smiling and laughing like they were the best of friends, and it was all just a big joke. And I thought to myself, "Self, if I were fan of the shortstop's team I would be sort of disgusted right now."

Yes, Rex Hudler and I are in the minority, and Craig Calcaterra and everyone else are in the majority. It doesn't mean anyone is wrong. It means the opinions are not balanced evenly. And hey guess what, I'm fine with that.

But wait, there's more! It seems that what bothers Hudler isn't players talking to each other; it's that we all can see the players talking to each other. Let's make fun of Rex Hudler! Craig:

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.

Well, yes: of course it's because people are watching. Nobody inside the game has ever expected baseball players to hate or ignore each other when they're off the field. Go back in history as far as you like, and you'll find enemy baseball players hunting and fishing together, playing golf together, etc. But for many years there has been a no-fraternization policy, always in the books if rarely enforced, because there was a time when baseball players conspired to throw games. One response by Organized Baseball was to discourage players from chatting it up before games, when fans were around and might wonder if the players were conspiring to throw games.

Yes, of course the players could almost as easily do their conspiring in a hotel room or a saloon before heading to the ballpark. That wasn't the point. The assumption was that this sort of activity was relatively rare, and almost non-existent after 1920. The point was that public relations was more than half the battle. You couldn't keep the players from talking. You could keep the players from talking when there were hundreds or thousands of fans watching, and wondering what the players might be talking about.

Of course, literally nobody thinks that Alcides Escobar and Denard Span were standing around second base last weekend, talking about how much money they made betting against the Royals. My point is that it's not silly to care about the fans' perceptions. And some fans -- me, for example -- don't want to see Alcides Escobar laughing when Denard Span hits a double.

Hey, everybody's got an opinion.

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