The Twins season began in late July with high hopes for a World Series and a long list of dos and don’ts distributed by Major League Baseball governing on-field protocol for players.
Turns out both of them were mere suggestions.
Just as it it was very easy to be struck by all that hasn’t changed with the Twins while watching their 24-hour playoff cameo — they still can’t hit when it matters most, their infield defense is still a liability and Rocco Baldelli is still trying to learn the difference between managing for the long haul and nine crucial innings — it was rather remarkable to look back at the list of all the things that weren’t supposed to happen on the field and chuckle.
*Players weren’t supposed to celebrate. That meant high fives, fist bumps, hugging, etc. There was nothing specific about sharing robes, but that probably would have been discouraged as well. Granted, the Astros had more cause to celebrate than the Twins the past two days. But in both games — and all throughout the season — this rule was largely ignored.
*There was to be no spitting — seeds, tobacco? Nope. But we saw all sorts of wads and spit throughout the season and the Twins playoff games. As one astute observer in my house noted Wednesday: “That player just lifted up his mask to spit. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?” Yes, it does.
*No lineup card exchange? Unless I missed some sort of modification to this rule, managers weren’t supposed to meet at home plate to exchange lineups. That was going to be done with an app.
*From MLB.com: When the ball is out of play, fielders are encouraged to retreat several steps away from the baserunner. We saw fielders and base runners chatting all the time.
Granted, some of the most serious protocols were followed. And maybe it was a little less necessary to be as strict during the postseason, when players were already in team “bubbles” and theoretically COVID-free as long as they were adhering to strict off-field protocols.
But following all the rules, especially during games? It seems as though a lot of it was just in writing only and that muscle memory was hard to tame.
Just like the notion that this year might be different in the playoffs for the Twins.