In Which Mike Leake Uses a Paper Cup

I’ve touched on it before, but I don’t think we talk nearly enough about how weird it must be to be a major-league baseball player. Sure, they’re wealthy and get annoyed with their boss like anyone else, but they’re also frequently naked around their work friends. Their workplace is so strange. People spit in the office, and those spitters don’t always aim well, which means flecks of spit on their shoes. We watch them be bad at their jobs, but they never get to see us botch a sale or split an infinitive.

Sometimes, their pants rip just a little bit, near the butt.

This happens to the literal best players. They continue to wear those pants for several hours. They then get new pants. They don’t have to pay for them.

And they litter. Gum wrappers, seeds, the sticky leftovers of athletic tape. They use a bunch of paper cups — seemingly a different one every inning! — and then just throw those cups on the floor of the dugout. It’s a move that must strike your average desk-job worker as odd; insurance adjusters are generally expected to recycle.

Perhaps Mike Leake secretly aspires to more traditional office work. In the top of the fifth inning of his July 4th tilt against the Angels, Leake was pulled in favor of Nick Rumbelow. He looked hot and frustrated. The camera finds him as he takes a long, grumpy drink of water. Here we are, watching him after he just failed. He gives the cup an angry little flick. Runners on the corners. Might be time to litter. He stares into the middle distance. Grumble, grumble, bad day. But then…

He puts the cup back! He drinks from the cup, puts his lips full on it, and then puts it back on top of the stack. Presented with this less typical baseball workplace weirdness, we are left to conclude that Leake either has a stack of cups for his own personal use throughout the game — the result of considered cup tastes — or cares deeply about the environment, or else is thoroughly untroubled by the idea of a teammate grabbing his previously full-lipped cup off the top of the stack. It might be an act of care, but it could also be sort of awful.

I suppose, in that respect, Mike Leake has shown that the dugout is actually just like every other workplace, defined as they often are by drudgery, and grumpy types, and small bits of heedlessness borne of opaque personal agenda or indifference to washing the mug you just used before putting it back in the break room dish drainer.

Maybe being a baseball player isn’t so weird after all. Except for when you’re naked with your fellows. That remains strange.

Meg is the managing editor of FanGraphs and the co-host of Effectively Wild. Prior to joining FanGraphs, her work appeared at Baseball Prospectus, Lookout Landing, and Just A Bit Outside. You can follow her on twitter @megrowler.

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What a wonderful Friday gift!