Baltimore Orioles: Keep your thoughts to yourself


The Baltimore Orioles and MLB should take note of the lessons in the Odell Beckham saga in the NFL.

The New York “football” Giants and the NFL have conveniently provided me with an interesting topic as the Baltimore Orioles and MLB settle into what’s traditionally a slow period. Let me unequivocally state that what Beckham did on Sunday was disgusting. A cheap shot like what he put on after a play was over has no place in organized sports, and I wholeheartedly support the one-game suspension.

In this age where every hit has the potential to be a fine in football, I would submit that something which takes place in the spirit of an actual play should be looked at with a bit less scrutiny. To use a term from baseball, these are all “bang-bang plays.” Guys don’t have time to stop and think about whether a hit is helmet-to-helmet and so forth. However what Beckham did was after a play was over – and thus has the ability to be much more premeditated in a sense.

Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

But what does this have to do with baseball? First off consider what Beckham said after the game in that the Carolina Panthers were talking trash before and during the game. They actually went to the trouble of bringing a baseball bat onto the field before the game (which they apparently had done in every game to that point) to “inspire” home run plays. Apparently Beckham took exception to this.

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  • But having seen the Panthers on TV several times this year, I would agree with Beckham in that they’re a fairly chirpy team – much in the tradition of the Seattle Seahawks the past couple of years. On one hand, maybe Beckham has a well-known fuse, and is thus an easy target. (Incidentally it’s kind of gutless on his part to come out and talk about them trash talking and bringing a bat onto the field after what he did.)

    However again, this is an issue that MLB unfortunately has as well. There are a few teams out there who seem to thrive on getting under people’s skin. This has never been baseball’s modus operandi; someone like Nolan Ryan never had to verbally or visually intimidate his opponents. His fastball did that for him. But now it’s fashionable to chirp before, during, and after games. Heck, in perhaps the worst moment of grandstanding I’ve seen in some time, one player thought it acceptable to throw his bat to kingdom come after a home run in the playoffs.

    Players will argue that most of these things aren’t necessarily aimed at opponents. However my point would be that if it’s something that’s done publicly, it’s open to public scrutiny – including by your opponents. Both baseball and football are great sports and they’re both a part of the fabric of our society. Thus they should be decided on the field between the lines, as opposed to by stupid acts like that.

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    Incidentally, every MLB team can learn something from this – even teams that don’t grandstand publicly. I would submit that the NY Giants and coach Tom Coughlin gutlessly claimed they didn’t know what was going on in that game on Sunday. If the head coach truly doesn’t know what’s happening on the field like that, he’s not fit to be a head coach. In Coughlin’s case, he’s a great football coach; he just didn’t want to say anything given Beckham’s amazing season thus far.

    Now that there’s an issue, he kind of has to cover himself. The same goes for Carolina coach Ron Rivera, who undoubtedly knew that his guys did some talking before and during games. So similarly there are MLB managers out there who have volatile players on their team who need to take note of this. If you have a guy that’s constantly getting under people’s skin, you need to say something. First off, it’s disrespectful to the game and the opponent(s). However if it spills over like it did with Beckham, you could not only lose a player or players to suspension, but you come off as having no institutional control. That’s kind of where Tom Coughlin is now.

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    At the end of the day, let the game decide itself on the field as opposed to outside the lines. If you want to see a sport with no apparent rules, go watch UFC. Sports aren’t about talk – they’re about winning, respect, and sportsmanship. A lot of athletes need to keep that in mind.