Rookie Treatment

Rookie Lesson: Mealtime is for Meals, Baseball Time is For Baseball

Noah SyndergaardSo Noah Syndergaard thought he’d grab a between-meals bite during a Mets scrimmage in Florida. David Wright and Bobby Parnell thought better, tossing his food into the trash and pointing him back toward the dugout.

A big deal, this refusal to let rookies eat during games in which they’re not even participating? More of the hazing upon which society has so firmly turned? Hardly. As a rookie, Syndergaard has a lot of baseball to learn, and, as the Mets vets so ably demonstrated, he’s not going to learn much of it indoors with his nose in a plate of baked beans. On their own the young pitcher’s actions are hardly offensive, but Wright and Parnell have taken the admirable tack of setting tone in the clubhouse, making it clear to young players and veterans alike that full effort is more than just a suggestion. That includes paying attention during games; one never knows what one might pick up.

It’s a throwback move. Ron Fairly told his own story about coming up with the Dodgers: “You had to show Pee Wee [Reese] you wanted to play this game of baseball—show him how badly you wanted to play. Pee Wee said he’d take a guy of lesser ability who really wants to play than a guy with a lot of ability who doesn’t give it a good effort all the time. Pee Wee was the captain, the one that controlled that, and if he ignored you, the other players would ignore you.”

Show you want it. It’s the least any veteran should ask.

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