Here’s an idea that probably sounded much better in theory than in practice. The Philadelphia Phillies will have a “Sensitive Bus” toy in the locker room throughout 2018 that they will award to players who get offended during the season, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The “Sensitive Bus” is an actual toy bus that assistant pitching coach Rick Kranitz introduced to the club last season and spruced up this year when he took over as pitching coach. It’s mostly going to be used by the pitchers, though some position players could get involved too.
Kranitz explained when a player will receive the “Sensitive Bus” in their locker.
“You know, sometimes guys get a little sensitive about things,” Kranitz said. “They start jabbing each other a little, getting under each others’ skin. It doesn’t even have to be about baseball. You have to have tough skin. The boys, they don’t ever want the bus in their locker.”
While Kranitz and the players may see it as a joke right now, it could snowball into something more serious. The “Sensitive Bus” sends a message to players that they shouldn’t get upset when a joke goes too far. And if they do, the result is they continue to get teased about it by finding the bus in their locker.
There’s also a difference in ribbing a player and crossing the line. Harmless ribbing is fine, but if someone feels a teammate has crossed the line, that should be discussed. The player who got upset shouldn’t have to deal with more ridicule. It’s unhealthy for issues like that to be brushed aside and buried down within a locker room. That might lead to more serious issues down the road.
It’s entirely possible that’s not the purpose of the bus. Maybe Kranitz and the staff will police it better than that. If the bus is given to a player who throws a temper tantrum after a bad start, that seems relatively harmless, and a way to laugh off a dumb situation.
There are other scenarios that shouldn’t be laughed away, and it’s up to the team to make sure they get it right. Some already view baseball locker rooms as a place of “toxic masculinity” and the bus could enforce those stereotypes.
If a player does feel that way, it will be up to members of the team to listen to those complaints. We’re living in a time where people throw out the terms “triggered, “snowflake,” “safe space” and “too PC” any time something happens they disagree with. It’s tough to have a dialogue about any of these issues if that’s the response. Hopefully, the team can be receptive if something actually crosses the line.
In the Phillies’ defense, we don’t know exactly how the “Sensitive Bus” will be deployed. Kranitz’s quotes give some idea, but there are no specific examples.
Maybe it truly is for minor things that everyone legitimately finds amusing. But the concept walks a real tight rope that could easily spiral out of control depending on the team’s approach with it.
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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik