Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Major League Baseball has apparently solved all of its major problems, and has moved on to nitpicking what managers and coaches wear in the dugout.

Performance enhancing drugs, the sanctity of the home run record, the disparity between big market and small market teams, the lack of spending by cheaply run franchises (ahem, Minnesota, Florida), the impending collective bargaining agreement, the question of instant replay. It seems as though these issues have all been properly addressed.

Terry Francona never wears a uniform top. He'll say he does, but it's a lie. There's no way he's got a polyester uniform on underneath his pullovers. But MLB is putting a stop to such outlandish and borderline barbarous behavior.

MLB VP Bob Watson announced the "Francona Rule" a few days ago at the winter meetings in Nashville. All managers and coaches will now be required to wear their uniform tops. They can wear full jackets over their uniforms, but no pullovers will be allowed. Before and after a game, managers can wear what they want. But during the game, that uniform top must be visible, unless it is underneath a jacket.

A first offense will result in a $1,000 fine. The second offense will induce a $5,000 fine. The third offense will result in the manager's suspension for 1 game.

Baseball is the only sport in which the head coach is required to wear a uniform. Basketball coaches often wear suit and tie, as do hockey coaches. Football coaches wear pretty much whatever they want, as we've seen here in New England.

But baseball coaches have to wear uniforms (complete with numbers) just like the players. These uniforms are not conducive to aging, overweight, paunchy men; which describes most baseball coaches.

Baseball needs to wake up. We all like the tradition, and the history, and all that crap; but sometimes tradition is stupid. And it isn't even that much of a tradition. Ever hear of a guy named Connie Mack, one of the best managers in the history of the game?

There he is, in the dugout with his Philadelphia Athletics, wearing a suit!

I'm not suggesting managers wear suits, but the notion that coaches in uniform somehow brings us back to the days of yore is not only silly, but it's wrong.

Baseball coaches should be allowed to at least don a pullover instead of their uniform. It's not as if they're going to go into the game and play. And trainers get to wear whatever team apparel they want to while they sit in the dugout, so why not the manager?

I wonder how long it took Major League Baseball to come up with this rule, write it, review it, and approve it. I wonder how much time was wasted arguing about jackets vs. pullovers.

But most of all, I wonder what Terry Francona's number is going to be. We'll all find out soon enough.