“Stay off the Sensitive Bus” was not a headline I expected to read, well, ever, but much less in conjunction with baseball, but here we are.
The brainchild of assistant pitching coach Rick Kranitz, the Bus is a plastic toy school bus placed in the locker of a pitcher deemed particularly “sensitive.” As reported by Jim Salisbury, the bus is in custody of Aaron Nola as leader of the staff, and is to be bestowed on a fellow hurler if they get too sensitive.
“You have to have tough skin. The boys, they don't ever want the bus in their locker,” said Kranitz.
This is problematic for several reasons. First, and most bluntly, it’s a school bus and it’s short. “Did you ride the short bus today” was a common enough jab when I was in fourth grade, but among adults in 2018, it really shouldn’t be.
Then there’s the “sensitive” part, which, while not clearly defined, implies that ballplayers need to be hypermasculine unemotional automatons. We don’t know when and how bus ridership is bestowed; whether it’s confined to the clubhouse or if on-field activities are part of the transit system as well. But either way, this is unfortunate.
In the clubhouse, it seems potentially likely to lead to ritualistic hazing; whereas on the field, well, who hasn’t seen a player get emotional? Did Roy Halladay need to be on the short bus for embracing Carlos Ruiz? No, of course not.
Who knows—none of us are privy to the goings-on in the clubhouse, and maybe this will help build team cohesion. Think of it like a complicated swear jar, perhaps? And maybe an exercise in not sweating the small stuff will help a pitcher’s mental state in a road stadium.
But from the outside, it certainly seems problematic. The imagery and name alone are troublesome, even if the concept isn’t wholly wrong.
Or maybe it’s fine and I’m the one on the wrong bus.