San Diego Padres pitcher Bud Norris said foreign players in Major League Baseball need to show more respect for “America's game.”
In a piece by USA Today’s Jorge Ortiz examining the fact that a majority of baseball's benches-clearing brawls occur over incidents involving players of differing ethnicities, Norris was informed of that statistic and weighed in about what he deemed to be proper on-field behavior.
“I think it’s a culture shock,” Norris said, regarding foreign players. “This is America’s game. This is America’s pastime, and over the last 10–15 years we’ve seen a very big world influence in this game, which we as a union and as players appreciate. We’re opening this game to everyone that can play. However, if you’re going to come into our country and make our American dollars, you need to respect a game that has been here for over a hundred years, and I think sometimes that can be misconstrued. There are some players that have antics, that have done things over the years that we don’t necessarily agree with.
“I understand you want to say it’s a cultural thing or an upbringing thing. But by the time you get to the big leagues, you better have a pretty good understanding of what this league is and how long it’s been around.”
The piece notes that bat-flipping is common in Korea and not frowned upon, and that domestic ball in Latin countries often features a more demonstrative style of play, with pros looking to entertain the crowd. According to Ortiz, Dominican-born reliever Fernando Abad of the Oakland Athletics said players will “dog” or taunt each other out of fun, not disrespect.
“We learn to play the game a different way than they do,” Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez, who has been involved in several on-field incidents, said of American-born players. Gomez was singled out in the story by Norris as a notable violator of the game's code of ethics. “They play the game by the book, and I don’t mean that as a criticism. We learn to play the game with our ability, with our passion. That’s the difference.”
The most recent incident to ignite discussion about baseball's unwritten rules occurred in the Nationals dugout between teammates Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper after the closer grabbed the team’s star outfielder by the throat for not running out a pop-up. Both Papelbon and Harper are American.
- Jeremy Woo