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Clubhouse Confidential
Michael Farber
January 14, 2002
When a bunch of alpha males get together daily in a confined space, lots of things—good and bad—can happen
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January 14, 2002

Clubhouse Confidential

When a bunch of alpha males get together daily in a confined space, lots of things—good and bad—can happen

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There are other ways to settle disputes about music. Last March the Expos called a meeting in spring training because some players thought Latin music was dominating the clubhouse. (Fourteen members of the Expos major league roster were Latino.) For the Buccaneers the music in the weight room is chosen according to an NFL seniority list that is posted there and in the dressing area. (The first tiebreaker is the order in which players were drafted.)

Although many baseball teams still permit pregame music in the clubhouse at the discretion of the starter—" Darren Dreifort's was my favorite day of the week," closer Jeff Shaw says of the Dodgers' pitcher. "Country!"—some have adopted the headphones-only policy championed by Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox. "You're together so much that the last thing you need is dissension," says reliever Mike Stanton, the former Brave now with the Yankees, another headphones-only team.

There are eight million stories in the naked clubhouse but one inviolable principle: Everyone should be as comfortable as possible. This is one reason that Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez, frequent media subjects in Seattle but never close friends, had lockers on opposite sides of the Safeco Field clubhouse, separated by two pillars; why Buffalo Sabres equipment manager Rip Simonick tunes one dressing-room TV to Jerry Springer and the other to CNBC to preempt bickering between those sadists who can't resist watching the decline of western civilization and those who like Springer; why, on the road, Indiana Pacers equipment manager Joe Qatato tries to isolate Reggie Miller's stall so that the inevitable media crowd doesn't interfere with the other players or impede locker room traffic.

"A lot goes on in a locker room," says the Titans' Matthews. "For six months a year you get to be 13. You can joke and make fun of guys. In the off-season I don't make fun of people. Then I come in here and say, 'All right, I'm 40.1 don't do that stuff anymore.' Then immediately I do that stuff."

Even if the Earth is a cosmic accident, the geography inside the locker room isn't. The rooms are testaments to clout, human nature and the axiom that 70% of the world is covered by water and the other 30% is covered by Barry Bonds's locker.

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