Charlie Montoyo thought that he would be taking a hard line against video games in his first year as Toronto Blue Jays manager, but before he could put his foot down on the video game Fortnite, the players took it upon themselves to govern their gaming.
“We’re going to play less, I know that,” Montoyo said. “It’s actually not my rule. It’s our clubhouse rule.”
The role of video games at the ballpark was put in the crosshairs on Monday when ESPN reported that veteran first baseman Carlos Santana smashed a television in the Philadelphia Phillies’ clubhouse in September last year to stop teammates from playing Fortnite.
Santana, with the Cleveland Indians, told ESPN that players were sneaking into the locker room to play during games.
Manager Gabe Kapler acknowledged the Fortnite playing, but he and pitcher Jake Arrieta denied that it was happening during games.
“Our players say that that wasn’t the case, and I trust our players,” Kapler said.
Video games have long been a pastime for big leaguers, but Fortnite pushed their popularity to another level last season.
The Houston Astros hooked up gaming consoles to many of the 10 TVs in their spring training clubhouse for raucous, team-wide clashes, and the Boston Red Sox routinely played in hotel rooms after games.
Those clubs even celebrated on-field feats with dances popularized by the cartoonish video game PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale.
Fortnite certainly did not slow the Red Sox or Astros. They matched up in the American League Championship Series, and Boston won the World Series.
Major league managers do not necessarily think that Fortnite is a problem. Many are into the idea of bonding over slurp juice and boogie bombs as long as players are not thinking about Tilted Towers when they should be prepping for the batter’s box.
Montoyo, a longtime minor league manager who was most recently bench coach in Tampa Bay, anticipated making changes in Toronto when he took the job this off-season. The Blue Jays had a reputation as a gamer-friendly clubhouse last year while going 73-89.
However, when Montoyo met with a group of players to establish rules, he found that the players were already planning to power down their PlayStations at the ballpark.
Their idea: Institute a shutdown time for all clubhouse consoles — something Montoyo agreed with.
The time is yet to be finalized, but most likely all games would be powered off within an hour of first pitch. As long as players are getting in their work, they would be free to play video games at any other time.
“I think it should go without saying that nobody should be playing a video game during a major league baseball game,” Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward said.
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