Pablo Sandoval and violations of baseball etiquette

ByJim Caple ESPN logo
Saturday, June 20, 2015

Pablo Sandoval got in big trouble this week when he used his smart phone in the clubhouse during a game and "liked'' a photo of a woman in his Instagram feed. But it could have been much, much worse. At least he didn't post a selfie on Facebook with President Obama while eating Popeye's chicken, drinking beer and deflating baseballs.

Was Sandoval wrong to go on Instagram during a game? Sure. During a game, the only photos and videos a player should be studying in the clubhouse are of the opposing pitcher. "You shouldn't be on it during a game, especially if you're playing in the game,'' said Houston's Chris Carter.

Hank Conger recalled a strict policy that no cell phones were allowed in the clubhouse when he started out with the Angels. If players ever used them after a game, they got grief from veterans. But times change, and phones are now used frequently in clubhouses with all teams having their own rules (none are allowed in the Red Sox clubhouse 40 minutes before a game). And, as Conger points out, MLB encourages players to tweet during the All-Star Game once they are out of the game.

Still, he acknowledges, for a player to get on his cell phone during a regular-season game, well, that "might be a little much.''

But in an era when we are all constantly studying our cell phones, texting friends and browsing websites when we're supposed to be working, was what Sandoval did really that bad? Certainly not as bad compared to other things players have done while breaking clubhouse etiquette.

Mariners shortstop Rey Quinones was unavailable to pinch hit in 1987 because he was in the clubhouse playing Super Mario Brothers, and he wouldn't leave because he was close to reaching the video game's seventh level. Obviously, that's far worse than what Sandoval did. Especially since Nintendo didn't own the Mariners back then.

While the rest of their teammates were fighting to come back in the final inning of the 1999 NLCS, Rickey Henderson and Bobby Bonilla were playing cards in the Mets clubhouse. Again, much worse than Sandoval -- the Mets lost and failed to reach the World Series. But Rickey and Bonilla might have advanced to the World Series of Poker.

Red Sox pitchers John Lackey, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester ate fried chicken and biscuits, drank beer and played video games in the clubhouse during games in 2011. Certainly no Boston fan pressed "like'' for that behavior.

Ken Griffey Jr. fell asleep in the Mariners clubhouse during a game in 2010. Although given the Mariners offense the past six years, Junior probably wasn't the only one asleep at the time (including in the stands).

Vince Coleman injured Dwight Gooden's shoulder by hitting him while swinging a golf club. Definitely improper clubhouse behavior. Worse, based on a 16-over performance at the U.S. Open this week, Coleman is evidently coaching Tiger Woods on his swing.

While playing with San Diego's Triple-A team last year, Jeff Francoeur broke protocol by using the coaches' bathroom, prompting his teammates -- with the manager's approval -- to lock him inside said room for an hour. Francoeur eventually escaped by crawling through a ceiling panel. He didn't share that, but fortunately teammate Cody Decker did.

Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard ate lunch in the clubhouse while his teammates were playing a spring training game. David Wright was upset by this and Syndergaard's lunch was thrown into the trash. Lesson: If a rookie is going to eat in the clubhouse, make sure a veteran like Lackey, Lester or Beckett orders it.

Denny McLain, Rob Dibble and Deion Sanders each dumped buckets of water over reporters at various times. Very bad behavior, but it could have been worse. And it was in Dibble's case. He also angrily fought manager Lou Piniella in the clubhouse, albeit a fight that lasted about as long as Ronda Rousey's earlier this year.

So, all in all, Sandoval's Instagram performance wasn't that big a deal -- though he still should stick to clubhouse etiquette. If you're going to use your cell phone during a game, be like Manny Ramirez: Don't use it in the clubhouse, but inside the Green Monster while going to the bathroom and arranging a drink with Enrique Wilson during a pitching change.

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