2017-06-16 / Commentary

Fighting for our colors

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation
Mike Cox

I pulled into the parking lot and noticed someone standing by the gate leading into the company property. He was one of those marginal guys, an accepted member of the group on occasion but not close to anyone in particular. His attitudes were a little too squirrelly for most of us.

As he spoke to two guys, I could tell Gene was agitated. This usually didn’t require much; he took off into crazy places with little incentive. Then I noticed several men still sitting in their cars, instead of the comfort of the inside break room.

Gene had been suspended for refusing to work his off day and was encouraging the rest of us to support him, and “show those bastards” who was really in charge by refusing to work that day.

Jimmy, our highest ranking union leader on site, and a level headed guy to boot, reminded us we would all lose two or three days pay if we followed Gene’s lead, and Gene seemed to have a reasonable enough case to get his punishment overturned.

In this circumstance, cooler heads did not prevail. United, we refused to enter the work space, lost pay for that day and two subsequent ones as punishment. I had three growing sons at home and a hard time replacing the money from three work days. But replacing the respect of my co-workers, or fellow tribesmen, would be harder. Staying united was important to everyone. Gene, through proper grievance channels, got paid for everything he had lost.

I thought of this incident as I listened to baseball experts hash and rehash the Giants/Nationals brawl during Memorial Day Weekend. No one understood why baseball players fight each other over nothing.

A pitcher held a grudge for three years, finally settling the score by throwing a baseball into his antagonist’s back at 98 MPH. During the ensuing fight, everyone involved with either side stormed the field to defend their teammate’s honor, or at least appear to.

No one in baseball broadcast circles seem to understand. Writers, announcers, and former players puzzle over unwritten rules, never ending grievances and repercussions, and bizarre behavior as if this is something never seen before.

I’ve played, coached, and observed baseball since I was ten. I’ve watched every version of human get involved in stupidity because, and only because, the other guys were wearing different colors.

Baseball players are tight knit. They spend a lot of time together; most of it idle. During down times, players discuss all manner of things and subconsciously devise ways to determine right and wrong.

First of all, humans don’t need much to distance themselves from someone. The flimsiest of evidence will build a wall high enough to keep reason and common sense away for long periods of time.

During a spirited contest usually in hot conditions, it’s easy to misunderstand opponents’ motives. The breaking point can happen quickly. Lucky for most players, it’s easy to resolve disputes. A bit of screaming curses at each other, a few shoves, and everyone feels vindicated. The matter is resolved and forgotten as soon as the media stops discussing it.

Glad the rest of society handles disagreements more intelligently.

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