Friendships Between Competitors: What Place Does It Have in Baseball?

Wendy AdairAnalyst IApril 10, 2009

CINCINNATI - APRIL 09:  Jose Reyes #7 and David Wright #5 of the New York Mets are pictured during a moment of silence in the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 9, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The moment of silence was in honor of an Anahiem Angels player who died last night.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Major League Baseball players are no doubt part of a huge fraternity, one that those of us who have never played sports at that level cannot begin to understand.

Relationships are forged between these players, from childhood buddies such as David Wright of the New York Mets and Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals to fellow countrymen such as the Mets’ Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez of the Florida. Marlins.

Wright and Zimmerman grew up together, along with BJ Upton of the Tampa Bay Rays and his brother Justin of the Arizona Diamondbacks in Norfolk, Virginia. Reyes and Ramirez bonded while playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic last month.

Reyes' wife gave birth to their third daughter in February and Ramirez will be asked to become her godfather.  There are many people that think Reyes is making a mistake by asking a fellow baseball player and competitor instead of asking a family member or lifelong friend, but the reality is that he and his wife feel that Ramirez would take care of his child in their absence. That is quite an honor and Ramirez will no doubt be touched by the gesture.

The Mets and Marlins are serious competitors with each other, as the Marlins have been spoilers to the Mets for the last two Septembers.  This relationship is to a certain extent more of a rivalry than the Phillies and Mets, which can be more of a fan base against fan base rivalry.  Reyes and Ramirez have a tremendous respect for each other as players and have great national pride in the Dominican Republic. 

Being that the Mets and Marlins face each other on average about sixteen times per season, the players know each other very well and do have respect for each other on and off the field.

The Washington Nationals are the bottom dwelling team in the NL East, with probably one of the worst records in baseball, but for some reason, the Mets have difficulty in winning games against them. 

Wright and Zimmerman do interact on the field as they are both third basemen the same way that Reyes and Ramirez are both shortstops so there is a common bond for playing the same position.

Wright is single, but when the day comes for him to get married, Zimmerman will most likely be in the wedding party, not as best man as Wright has three younger brothers. However, he would most likely be an active part of the wedding celebration.

When teams are warming up prior to a game, there are subtle greetings such as a wave, nod, or even a hug in some cases, but the line does need to be drawn on the field in the competitive spirit.

Players can acknowledge and be civil to their opponents before and during the game, but their ultimate loyalty is winning the game with their teammates.

The sudden death of Nick Adenhart of the Los Angeles Angels no doubt shook up the baseball world and his family, friends, and teammates must move on with their lives without him. This is a sad part of life that even being a professional athlete does not prevent.

When players either die or move on to another team, they are not forgotten by their former teammates, so even former teammates of Adenhart, such as Darren O'Day of and Francisco Rodriguez of the Mets were hit hard by this tragedy.

Players are competitors on the field, but the relationship factor cannot and should not be ignored. They are all sympathetic human beings who look out for each other and have bonds the rest of us have, and that should be cherished.