As most St. Louis Cardinals fans are aware, Ryan Franklin and his team received a considerable amount of notoriety over the past few days. The subject was the closer’s remarks over the posting of Major League Baseball’s “Weapons-Free Workplace Policy” in Florida and Arizona clubhouses this spring.
The 36-year-old, who grew up in Arkansas and now lives on a 500-acre ranch in Oklahoma, told the Post-Dispatch this:
“There are a few guys that screwed it up for everybody,” Franklin said. “If it wasn’t for the NFL guy a couple years ago bringing a weapon into a nightclub … you’ve just got to be smart.”
Franklin was undoubtedly referring to former New York Giants star Plaxico Burress, whose unfortunate self-inflicted wound led to the loss of his job and his freedom. The former wide receiver is currently spending two years behind bars.
Some writers have incorrectly assumed MLB’s action was a knee-jerk response to an incident in the NBA this season involving Gilbert Arenas. The Washington guard has been suspended indefinitely and faces criminal charges as a result of a gun-related episode. The difference between this one and Burress’ was that it played out inside the locker room rather than in a nightclub.
An MLB official told the AP that their policy had been put in place last July following the Burress incident, but was just now being formally posted. Union head Michael Weiner acknowledged the issue was negotiated with the players in advance.
The policy, which applies to players and employees alike, states that MLB “shall prohibit the possession or use of deadly weapons in any facility or venue owned, operated, or controlled by it.” Deadly weapons are defined as “any instrument designed primarily for use in inflicting death or injury to a human or animal.” Included are “firearms, explosives, daggers, metal knuckles, switchblade knives, and knives having blades exceeding five inches.”
While Franklin’s comments seemed out there, now that a couple of days have passed, I decided to look around to see if his position had any seconds from corners of the baseball universe.
If there are any, no one is speaking up.
The New York Yankees, a team never short on controversy, were remarkably quiet on the issue. Andy Pettitte and C.C. Sabathia shrugged their shoulders, saying they have never seen a gun in their clubhouse or any other. Spring training instructor, gun owner and Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, who played from 1972 to 1994, agreed and added that he has never even heard a story about one.
A story out of Pittsburgh noted that several of the Pirates players enjoy bow-hunting and brought their high-tech devices to the park. The quote offered was a joke from outfielder Brandon Moss, who had practiced his hobby at PNC Park on occasion.
“I guess I’ll have to switch to rubber tips (on arrows),” Moss said.
Players are competitive by nature and have long periods of downtime, which explains interest in varied hobbies such as golf, video games and even those involving weapons. Yet there seems proper a time and place for everything.
Perhaps there are a few who believe their fame and wealth also offer a level of entitlement beyond that of the average citizen. Yet there seems no doubt that the vast majority of Americans save those in law enforcement would face serious repercussions if they carried weapons into their workplace.
San Diego Padres pitcher Chris Young may have been speaking for the silent majority as he sees MLB’s policy simply formalizing standard practice.
“I think every clubhouse had the no gun policy before,” Young said. “They’re just making it official. But anybody with common sense knows you shouldn’t be carrying guns in most places.”
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