February 29, 2008
That sure didn't take long. We've only just started spring training games and there's already one guy who's refusing to comply with the new "Mike Coolbaugh" rule that all basepath coaches must wear helmets when they're on the field
Surprise, surprise, too — It's the born stubborn Larry Bowa who's dragging his feet the most. Along with first-base coach Mariano Duncan, the new Dodgers third-base coach flipped the proverbial bird at Major League Baseball Thursday, refusing to wear a helmet in the spring opener against the Braves.
What's more is that he says he plans on continuing to do so, even though the league instituted the rule after Coolbaugh, a Rockies minor league coach, was killed by a line drive last summer. Bowa says he is so serious about not kowtowing that the MLB is welcome to the contents of his wallet. For the entire season, if necessary.
Bowa, from the LA Times:
"I'm willing to write out a check for whatever the fine is for every game. Whatever 162 games is, I'll write out a check for it."
Then, from MLB.com:
"My question is, how can I be in the league 40 years and the league says who wears a helmet and who doesn't? One guy got killed and I'm sorry it happened. But bats break and they can be a deadly weapon. Do something about bats.
"Umpires get hit with line drives. I've probably seen 50 of them get hit. If coaches have to wear helmets, umpires should. I'll sign a waiver. And there should be a grandfather clause. These (helmets) are very cumbersome.
What's surprising to me, is that even though Bowa comes off as brash and has never met an opportunity to complain he didn't like, I tend to agree with him on this issue. The veteran coaches know that there's a risk of standing 90 feet away from a batter and if they believe it's one worth taking, then let 'em.
Signature on the waiver here. Coaches box over there. Make sure to make any arrangements necessary to have your lifeless body hauled off the field. Not our responsibility anymore.
See how easy the blood washes off the hands of MLB?
For those of you who disagree with this one, consider the thousands of fans that sit behind the dugout in ballparks each years. Should teams provide those people with helmets, too? They're a heckuva a lot closer than Bowa, plus they can't get out of the way like a coach can. Their rights simply get waived by the tiny font on the back of their tickets.
UPDATE #1: They just showed Bowa on the ESPN telecast of the Braves-Dodgers game and he was wearing a helmet after "being told to." It'll be interesting to see what made him reverse his principles after coming out so strong in the morning papers.
UPDATE #2: According to the LA Daily News, Bowa reluctantly donned the helmet after the comissioner's office called to threaten immediate ejection if he and Duncan again flaunted the rule. Bowa still isn't backing off, though, and says he might take the field wearing full catcher's gear. (More to come?)
(BLS head nod to Walkoff Balk for the tip)
Have spring training recommendations for 'Duk? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.