Commentary

Rangers' World Series leak a big deal

The sanctuary of the locker room is crucial for players in today's media environment

Originally Published: November 8, 2011
By Doug Glanville | ESPN.com

When I was writing my book, I was totally obsessed with contacting as many people as I could who would appear in it. I tracked down teammates and opponents that I hadn't talked to in years. Why? Because I knew some of the content took place in the locker room, and I needed them to sign off.

It seemed simple enough, but consider what has come out from the Fall Classic: An unnamed Texas Rangers employee recorded manager Ron Washington's speech in the clubhouse before Game 7 of the World Series, and leaked it. In today's world, recording a conversation is as easy as a double-click. There is no wire needed, no expansive contraption to capture the data, you just tap the app and -- voila! -- instant copy.

These days we all expect less privacy. We know that if someone isn't listening for national security, someone is listening because they can. There is even a general community of the willing as we tweet and post all kinds of information for all to see.

[+] EnlargeRon Washington
vJason O. Watson/US PresswireRon Washington has cause to be angry.

So why is there surprise over the leak and the expected crackdown? Inside that locker room, inside every locker room is a community of trust. It stands on that trust, it lives on it, and it certainly can die on it. It is not like anyone has to stand up on the first day of spring training and explain the rules. It is understood, it is passed down. It is assumed that what happens in the locker room, stays in the locker. Unless you have clearance or a greater responsibility to share it.

This code has bored reporters in interviews to tears, caused wives and girlfriends to pull out their hair, and even unfortunately has worsened inexcusable events. Nevertheless, getting detailed reports of what occurs within a closed locker room is a tall task.

Certainly what Washington said to the Rangers could have been predicted. OK, you lose Game 6 after being one pitch away. The champagne is on ice, Nolan Ryan has practically chewed all the nails off his fingers, you are about to win the first championship in franchise history and -- bam -- just like that, you are pep talking for Game 7.

After my own experience being part of the Cubs' loss of Game 6 at Wrigley Field in the 2003 National League Championship Series, I can fully understand what was said to get everyone refocused. You dismiss fate, you call on destiny, you tap cliche, you fan the flames of desire, you curse the gods, you slap someone on the back, and you do it firmly and clearly. The words in between are not material.

But what is material is a violation of trust. Whoever taped the conversation worked in and around that locker room. Players passed him (or her) often. He or she was allowed inside, and was part of a trusted circle. With that comes a duty and an understanding that all information shared is for that room only, unless he has a legal or ethical obligation or he receives the express written consent of the parties involved. Even then, everyone hopes you mince your words.

Sure, it may seem over the top, but in a world of constant change, it is a necessity. Your address changes, your team hat changes, your teammates change, your girlfriend changes. There is so little that is the same in baseball for any length of time that any island of refuge, any place where you can hang your hat for a minute is sacred. You don't ask why, you just need to know it is there.

So you walk in that room with confidence that everyone who is allowed access knows what to do with that access. You can't talk about a player yelling at his agent on the phone, you can't share that a player slept in the locker room because his marriage is in shambles, you can't overhear the doctor say to a player that his career is in jeopardy because his cold is something worse, you can't tell the world that there is crying in baseball because someone's grandmother passed away and she was the one who raised him.

You can't because there is nowhere for a player to go when it comes to letting go right after a moment. Privacy left the building a long time ago and despite the adulation, rewards and stakes, it is scary existence for ballplayers to not have a sanctuary to trust.

When I played in Philadelphia, I enjoyed my time there. The first two years, I lived downtown in the heart of the action. That was until it became clear that every time I came back to my apartment, someone noticed. Noticed I could get tickets, noticed who was on my arm, noticed what time I came home. In the locker room, no one noticed a thing, in fact, no one saw a thing because everyone needs a time and a place to be invisible, if only for a moment.

So I moved to the suburbs, looking for some downtime and I found it, but it came with a lot of solitude. I gained privacy and I lost community. I still needed that locker room.

Like just about everyone who has played this game long enough, I have witnessed powerful moments in a clubhouse. I have seen teams nearly rip each other apart, like when anonymous quotes surfaced about Scott Rolen's contract questions in Philly, or when we were searching for how comments on a flight ended up on the air. I have seen grown men reduced to tears, like when my teammate got news of his aunt's passing or when my father's stroke was so serious that I played a game like a zombie and forgot how many outs there were in the inning.

The code of privacy in the clubhouse is there because it has to be. It helps keep a team a team, it provides a place for a trusted circle to build an engine of unity, and it allows a player to just "be." Because every player knows that there are hardly many places like that left once you put that uniform on.

Doug Glanville, who earned a degree in systems engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, played nine major league seasons with the Cubs, Phillies and Rangers. He serves on the board of Athletes Against Drugs and on the board of the MLB Players Alumni Association. His book, "The Game from Where I Stand," was released in May 2010. Click here to buy it in paperback on Amazon.com. Follow him on Twitter:

• MLB analyst for ESPN and ESPN.com
• Played nine major league seasons with the Cubs, Phillies and Rangers
• Email: mail@dougglanville.com
• Website: http://www.dougglanville.com/