It's always awkward walking into a new job. I'd imagine that it'd be even more awkward when you become the “leader” of an established group of people. A Major League manager has to come into Spring Training looking to win the affections and trust of his new ball club, while at the same time trying to ignore said awkwardness. Ron Gardenhire's new job with the Detroit Tigers could have its own share of awkwardness, however, the best combat for it seems to be a good amount of light-hearted joking.
Coming into Lakeland, Gardenhire has a great number of faces and names that he has to match up. As a teacher, who teaches 140 students a day, I know the terror the first few weeks brings. It's no easy task, and Gardenhire reportedly said as much when he told his guys he'd call them “Buddy” if they failed to put their name on the back of their jersey.
Gardenhire said last week that if players didn’t wear their names on their backs, he’d be calling them “Hey, buddy.” Looks like Fulmer, Wilson and Zimmermann are taking him up on that. pic.twitter.com/D9TLtTj56D
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) February 19, 2018
This is akin to a summer's double session in high school football where the head football coach takes the athletic tape and scribbles the player's name across the front of their helmet. However, some of his players, in a joke, took it literally — to create some humor.
In the photo above, you'll notice that reliever (and possible 5th starter) Alex Wilson and starters Jordan Zimmermann and Michael Fulmer played a little joke on their new skipper, with all of them having “Buddy” stitched across their back. A well played and well-crafted joke, a sign that Tigers' spring camp is nothing short of loose.
One way to combat the awkwardness that comes with a new job is to defer to humor. It is the great equalizer and allows for a pretty light and fun atmosphere. Probably the best way to get what promises to be a down year for the Tigers off the ground and running.