Game On…with Rob Kriete – MAY 19

Throughout my life, in any and every job I’ve held, I listen to my boss. From delivering newspapers to being a lifeguard to becoming a public school educator, I have always had a boss, and I would comply with whatever directive I received. Sure, I can disagree with a boss or principal, and a private discussion about those disagreements was sometimes necessary, but ultimately the boss would have the final say. What would be or should be the consequence of not complying with your boss, principal, or, say, baseball manager?

Yermin Mercedes, a rookie slugger on the Chicago White Sox, did not comply with a sign from his manager to take a pitch. Instead, he swung and delivered a home run!

Tony LaRussa, longtime MLB baseball manager now in his second stint as skipper of the White Sox, was not too pleased. The fact that the White Sox were up by double-digit runs late in the game was why the sign was given to take a pitch. The home run was meaningless to the game results, and LaRussa wanted to respect the opponent, the Minnesota Twins, by not piling on who had a catcher on the mound to save bullpen arms.

There has been a lot of discussion around MLB on “old school” versus “new school” baseball. Outspoken players like Trevor Bauer have publicly questioned the logic of taking a pitch even in a blowout (despite pitching for the Dodgers now and not a member of either team involved.) But this column is not about that…today. This is about a younger player not complying with a directive.

I can enjoy the argument of whether one is respecting an opponent by openly trying to end the game as quickly as possible or sticking with the attitude that if a team cannot stop their opponent from scoring, they simply need to do a better job. (Perhaps we will have that as a Game On topic soon).

If Yermin truly believed that he should swing away in that instance, there are better ways to express that without disobeying directives and creating a showdown with his team’s manager. Perhaps this too is an “old-school” concept, and if it is, it shouldn’t be. Simply doing what their supervisors tell them to do is essential to making things work well, in my opinion. Of course, there are examples that can be given that would refute this, and I would agree that this is not a blanket statement. But overall, if your boss tells you to do something within your job description, I believe you should jolly-well do precisely that.

Respectfully disagreeing can occur. It can happen in professional sports through national politics. Going rogue, blatantly disobeying, and showing up one’s supervisor is not a respectful or productive way to change things.

If we are going to settle the “old school” versus “new school” way of doing things in MLB and everywhere else, we will need to do so respectfully. We can agree to disagree, but the boss has the final say. Sorry, not sorry.

Be safe, everyone!