Baseball is a strange sport.
Players are eating at all times. Fans catch balls with their beer. Mascots shoot 98 mph hot dogs at the groins of strangers.
It's also the only professional sport where managers—full-grown, aging men—walk around in team-issued tights and no one bats a lash. In no other realm of sport is this arrangement acceptable, and I feel like it isn't discussed enough.
The root of baseball’s uniformed manager rests in ancient, pine tar-y lore, wherein the earliest baseball managers were just the members of the team who could balance a budget and resist blowing the payroll on Appalachian sauce-water.
Early baseball managers weren’t coaches; they were just players in charge of the team’s business affairs, so they wore uniforms and continue to do so to this day. I find this unfair.
Why can’t coaches in other sports throw on playing gear?
What’s keeping Jim Harbaugh from padding up and digging his cleats into the end zone after bad calls? Why do the rest of the coaches of the world have to sweat through pressed collars and team polos while baseball managers get to strut around in Lycra, reliving the glory days?
In this spirit, I (very poorly) attempted to visualize what coaches in other sports would look like if they adopted the baseball manager tradition.
I realized quickly why it hasn’t caught on.
For starters, we don’t have enough canola oil to get these pants ready for Andy Reid.
Secondly, Joel Quenneville would have caught several bodies by now if he wore gear on the bench. I guarantee the Blackhawks coach has put pads on over his suit only to be talked down by a concerned Jonathan Toews.
Furthermore, poor Jacoby Jones would be urinating with the help of silly straws if Mike Tomlin padded up in 2013.
Blake Sims would be evading an additional tackler every other play if Nick Saban taped up on Saturdays.
Son or no son, Doc Rivers in uniform would step out and send Austin Rivers’ stuff into the third row if it took the Clippers into the playoffs.
Pete Carroll gashes his face during special teams practice, and he just lost Percy Harvin. We do not need to give this man and his feathered, lethal hair any more reason to run out and field a punt.
Jurgen Klinsmann secretly believes he could suit up for the U.S. men’s national team in a pinch. And about eight years ago, he’d have been right.
Now that we’re all sufficiently creeped out, I think we’ll agree to continue upholding the uniform-coach apartheid in all other sports.
Baseball had the tradition first, and for all our sakes, it should stay that way.
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