It is a known fact that athletes are a superstitious bunch. Whether it's eating the same food before every game or wearing an article of clothing for luck (e.g. a gold thong), athletes don't like messing with the delicate balance of the sports universe.
Everything comes down to a routine, and it seems like baseball players are some of the biggest proponents of sticking to their rituals no matter how ridiculous or unnecessary it may seem to us outsiders.
The re-adjusting of the batting gloves is one of these rituals. It is rare to find a player who doesn't wear gloves nowadays (Jorge Posada and Vlad Guerrerro are the exceptions) and almost all of them have the compulsory need to do and undo the Velcro.
It is not just that they undo and redo the Velcro during every at bat, but it is often several times during one a single at bat. Some may do it after only a few pitches, while others do it after every single pitch delaying a game that already has no time limit. So what's with the gloves?
My father actually posed that question to me, and wanted to know what Major League Baseball could do to stop this excessive habit. I explained that MLB had already taken steps to try and shorten games in 2008. Teams have been instructed to cut down the amount of time for player announcements.
At every home ballpark when a player comes up to the plate, they all have a song to go along with the announcing of their names. MLB has cut down the number of seconds allowed for a song per player in an effort to move the game along. They also put a time limit on meetings on the mound (provided it's not injury related), but while it would seem somewhat unreasonable to impose a rule on how many times players could adjust their gloves, my dad insisted they needed to be kept in line.
I tried another angle. I told him that they're a superstitious breed and the number of times they re-adjust their gloves could have some meaning to them. Players will do anything to avoid a slump. This summer, Jason Giambi grew a mustache, and kept it during a hot streak and immediately shaved it when his batting average dropped.
My dad insisted that all of these superstitions were crazy, and if the batting gloves were part of that theory then what was the explanation for someone like Guerrerro for being so successful when he didn't even wear gloves? Strike two.
I attempted one more explanation. I said that the re-adjusting of the gloves was a tactic to throw off the pitcher. The more times a player steps out of the box and fiddles with their gloves, the more times a pitcher has to re-start their motion, which can mess with a their timing.
Baseball is as much of a mental game as it is a physical game. Some of the game's most successful hitters like Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, and David Wright are notorious for their batting glove routine between pitches, and if they were told they had to cut back on it, who knows how it would affect their at-bats?
My dad's response: "It's all unnecessary and MLB needs to do something about it. These guys have to start relying on their talents, not superstitions to be successful."
While it seems like there is no convincing my dad that there may be some method to the madness of all the re-adjusting of batting gloves, it does pose an interesting question. Should MLB try and limit the number of times a player can touch their batting gloves during an at-bat?
If they do they will come off to some as being a dictator or tyrant, and if they don't some will view them as allowing the players to do whatever they want to delay the game. Or maybe these players need to do away with the gloves completely. Maybe MLB needs to disallow batting gloves all together.
After all, Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle never used batting gloves and they were pretty good hitters.