So I’ll put this one in my just when I thought I’d seen everything file.
The WAFB-TV-distributed video of what transpired during the Scotlandville-Central baseball game played Thursday popped up on one of my phone apps late Friday night.
I didn’t watch it at first because I was working on a deadline story. When I did I was dumbfounded.
On one side of the frame, I could see a Central player with a face obscured by something white. He was pointing a bat in the direction of Scotlandville players much like you’d handle a gun.
I’ve seen players use bats like guitars before and I could see how it would be an easy transition and use it as a gun. But this was troubling. Was this just a very poor personal choice? Or was there more to it?
It was apparently both. I had no idea what “baseball sniping” was until I talked to Central Athletic Director Sid Edwards on Saturday morning. If you search it on the Internet, you can find plenty of examples.
Edwards did and so did I. This baseball ritual started at the college and pro levels and has now filtered down to the high school level.
Given the circumstances, I can understand why Scotlandville parents reacted the way they did. Now I can also see why there wasn’t much of a reaction from the Scotlandville players.
Could this be the new era equivalent of the old “Swing, batter batter, swing!” chants. The goal of the sniper is to put the Mojo on the other team’s pitcher and/or hitters.
Given that most current players grew up in a video game era that features plenty of war games, it makes sense.
Only not so much when you’re dealing with teams of racially different make-ups. Throw into the mix what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, and other places and you’ve got a whole new ballgame. The teammate’s white T-shirt that was left laying on the bench was an impromptu head wrap that could conjure up images of the Klu Klux Klan. Of course, if it had been a black T-shirt, you could think Isis.
“If it was two teams with the same racial make-up, you probably don’t hear about it,” one coach detached from the situation offered. “But in my mind you just can’t do it.”
Central took a hard line and suspended the player and coaches for one game each. Apologies have been issued, and it looks like both schools are looking to move past what happened.
Some of the Internet images of other “baseball snipers” are striking. Bats are propped up automatic rifles, complete with paper cups taped to them to serve as a scope.
In one image, a player has a white towel wrapped around his face but has his baseball cap on top while pointing the bat toward whoever took the photo.
A photo that proves how complicated this issue is features one of Major League Baseball’s top young African-American stars, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutcheon, playfully pointing a bat straight ahead like a gun.
Chances are, none of us will look at a guy holding a bat near a dugout quite the same way again. I’m not sure what that says about us or the world we live in.
It’s also another example of why all schools need to be conscious of what goes on during every phase of the game.
Just because something has never happened at your school or in your sport doesn’t mean it won’t.