MLB: Spring training has sprung, and so will the jokesters

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 28: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs has a laugh with teammate Kyle Schwarber #12 before a game against the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 28, 2019 in New York City. The Cubs defeated the Mets 10-7. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 28: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs has a laugh with teammate Kyle Schwarber #12 before a game against the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 28, 2019 in New York City. The Cubs defeated the Mets 10-7. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images) /

MLB: Spring training has sprung, and so will the jokesters

Tread Lightly, Not Everybody Takes it Good-Naturedly

Of course, not everybody takes it good-naturedly. Maybe the most infamous example was relief pitcher Jesse Orosco giving freshly-signed Los Angeles Dodgers free agent Kirk Gibson a ghoulish welcome-aboard in Gibson’s first Dodger spring. Orosco smeared eye black around the liner of Gibson’s batting helmet, and when the goo melted down Gibson’s face in the warmth of the field the former Detroit Tigers star exploded.

“No wonder this team finished in fourth place last year,” Gibson thundered.

About a week before Gibson’s orthopedically challenged 1988 World Series-winning Game One, with the Dodgers down a run and Gibson hitting with two strikes and two outs, Thomas Boswell wrote, “Gibson tore the clubhouse up, left camp, criticized his teammates and said that wasn’t how he played baseball like it was some Sunday picnic for laughs.”

So maybe spring training isn’t going to be or supposed to be fun for everybody. Yet Gibson had his soft side, even in the postseason. He’d inscribe a teammate’s initials on his uniform sleeve to brace him up. It might inspire another teammate to say he’d do likewise if Gibson didn’t play the next day. Just don’t expect him to be Costello to somebody else’s Abbotts.