Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia published a column on Wednesday detailing one of the ways the Phillies are trying to help build clubhouse camaraderie. At some point last season, head pitching coach Rick Kranitz brought the “Sensitive Bus” into the Phillies’ clubhouse and he has brought it back for the 2018 season.
The “Sensitive Bus” is a yellow toy school bus, adorned with a whining emoji, that gets placed in a player’s locker if he’s deemed to have been too sensitive.
Kranitz said, “You know, sometimes guys get a little sensitive about things. They start jabbing each other a little, getting under each others’ skin. It doesn’t even have to be about baseball. You have to have tough skin. The boys, they don’t ever want the bus in their locker.”
Kranitz added, “If somebody gets on somebody’s nerves and there’s some sensitivity, I’ll just go get it and put it in their locker. Hey, I might put it in my own locker.”
On the one hand, this type of team-building exercise is a step above some of the stunts used in the past, like making rookies dress up like women and wear pink backpacks.
On the other hand, this is still problematic because it teaches men — in the case of the Phillies’ clubhouse: young, impressionable men — that being sensitive is a bad thing. It’s not. If someone doesn’t like something that a fellow teammate said or did, his environment should make him feel comfortable enough to speak up and establish his own boundaries. Some teammates you can joke around with, some you can’t. Sometimes a player will have a bad day or a bad week and not be in the mood to joke around. That’s life; that’s people. Those that don’t enjoy silliness — whether in that moment or in general — shouldn’t have to silently suffer because Kranitz wants to promote toxic masculinity in Gabe Kapler’s clubhouse.
When Kapler got hired, the Phillies were essentially saying to fans that they were going to change up the way things had been done. The front office is now very analytically-oriented, for example. The Phillies are going to experiment with mid-inning outfield realignment. So, it’s surprising that someone as forward-thinking as Kapler would allow Kranitz to implement such a retrograde team-building exercise in his clubhouse.