BREAKING: Mike Baumann suspended and won’t be player due to remark comment’s

I’d never realized until this week how integral handshakes were to my spring training routine. The handshake is our national standard for signaling friendship and good intentions to a person you don’t know well enough to trust totally. And they’re an essential part of a reporter’s toolbox. There are very few MLB players I run into frequently enough to prompt recognition on sight, so when I approach a player’s locker it’s typically with my notebook in my left hand and my right hand empty and extended as I identify myself and ask for an interview.

Team media relations staffers usually get a handshake and a few seconds of small talk before I say, “Oh, by the way, can you facilitate this interview for me?” I trade gossip and jokes with beat writers and traveling media, but only after a handshake brings an end to a long winter’s separation. Close friends might get a handshake that evolves into a one-armed bro hug.

At this point, shaking hands is as natural as blinking or drawing breath, and in the context of a working journalist’s life, it’s nearly as common and as useful. That’s why it’s so hard to stop, even if doing so could save lives.

Particularly when that adjustment comes in the course of days, or even hours. On Monday morning I left the Angels’ clubhouse in Tempe, Arizona, feeling momentary regret after I’d shaken hands with a player—I knew it was a habit that I should’ve already broken, but at that point the coronavirus still seemed like something that might affect American society in a matter of weeks, not hours. Maybe lockdowns and quarantines had become the norm in Italy, China, and South Korea, but some stubbornly exceptionalist corner of my brain held on to the conviction that it either couldn’t happen here, or that wouldn’t happen without ample time to prepare.

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