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    Friday, September 30, 2022

    If we have to apologize for advocating sportsmanship, I'll need therapy

    The conversation, I imagine, would go something like this:

    Me: "I don't know, Doc. Having trouble channeling my anger. Lately, I don't just want them to get off my lawn, but I want them to pull a hammy en route."

    Doctor: "Why are you feeling this way?"

    Me: "Because much of what I was taught as a kid by people a lot smarter than I am is getting dismissed by people now who strike me as a lot dumber."

    Doctor: "What do you mean?"

    Me: "Well, I publicly support many old-school ideas, like the unwritten rules of baseball. These people make me feel like I should go to confession for simply being respectful of an opponent."

    Doctor: "Ah, I see your point. It's kind of like how everybody thinks they wrote the manual on sportsmanship."

    Me: "Exactly. I mean, did you see the thing last week between the White Sox and Twins? The guy Mercedes for the White Sox blows off a 3-0 take sign with a 15-4 lead and homers off a position player throwing 47 MPH."

    Doctor: "I did see that. Tony La Russa got annoyed."

    Me: "Look, I'm no La Russa fan. Blowhard. And I don't like the way he threw Mercedes under the bus after the game. Almost like it was more important for him to pose as a keeper of the gate instead of quietly taking the kid into his office after the game and explaining that 1) it's called a take sign for a reason; and 2) since it's my name on the door, I get to make the rules."

    Doctor: "I'm curious. What are some unwritten rules you were taught?"

    Me: "Are you sure I can say them without some nitwit on Twitter turning it into a referendum?"

    Doctor: "It's called 'doctor-patient privilege' for a reason."

    Me: "OK. Good. Well, you don't swing 3-0 or steal a base with a 10-run lead. You don't bunt to break up a no-hitter. You don't flip the bat when you hit a home run. You don't gyrate after striking somebody out. And if you do any of those things, you don't get to be the victim when the next pitch you see is coming at your ear."

    Doctor: "But I get the feeling you're harboring more inside."

    Me: "Is it that obvious?"

    Doctor: "Yes."

    Me: "Well, what really frosts my adenoids is when these youngins label violations of sportsmanship as 'having fun out there.' I mean, I doubt they were ever taught proper sportsmanship in the first place. Then they make the mistake of using social media to confirm that while some drink from the fountain of knowledge, they've only gargled."

    Doctor: "Do you have any examples?"

    Me: "I was reading something in the New York Post the other day. Some guy named Jeremy Layton. The guy isn't a columnist but gets to inject his opinion into a news story for some reason. He wrote, 'Ah yes, the unwritten rules we hear so much about in baseball. Don't flip your bat, don't admire a home run, don't swing up 3-0 with a healthy lead. In other words, don't have fun on the baseball field.'"

    Doctor: "Why does that bother you?"

    Me: "When did 'fun' become swinging 3-0 with a 10-run lead? Why is that 'fun?' I think 'fun' is sitting on the beach sipping one of those drinks with a little umbrella sticking out of it. Or playing poker with the guys. Or watching George Carlin. But why is rubbing the other guy's nose in it on the field 'fun?'"

    Doctor: "It's almost like there's a generational disconnect."

    Me: "Well said. Then there's that dope Trevor Bauer, who suddenly fancies himself as baseball's conscience. He tweets, 'Dear hitters: If you hit a 3-0 homer off me, I will not consider it a crime. Dear people who are still mad about a hitter hitting: kindly get out of the game. Can't believe we're still talking about 3-0 swings. If you don't like it, managers or pitchers, just be better.'"

    Doctor: "Why does that bother you?"

    Me: "Because it's not about a 3-0 swing per se. It's about a 3-0 swing with a blown off take sign in an 11-run game against a position player. Big difference. This is what I mean about people who think they're a lot smarter than they are but have these giant platforms to show their room temperature IQ."

    Doctor: "What's your solution?"

    Me: "Instead of teaching bat flips, maybe we can sit the kids down at youth levels and talk to them about what's acceptable behavior and what's not. It's clear we have a generation here whose educations were sadly neglected."

    Doctor: "I think we're going to need another session next week."

    Me: "And another one after that. Do you take insurance?"

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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