Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beating the 'Bushes' For Bad Behavior

Let's not beat around the bush--K-Rod beating up his father in law and leaving the Mets without a closer for the rest of the season was a bush league act.

"What a bush-league thing to do!" wrote one commenter on "DOCK HIS SALARY!"

To be sure, this is not the typical usage of bush league, which usually connotes on-field actions that transgress baseball's unwritten rules.
Of course, K-Rod has been cited for a few of those too. Earlier this season, he lashed out at Willie Harris after Harris complained about being hit with a pitch.

"I’m not going to paint his uncontrolled, unnecessary behavior on Sunday as something inspirational, or something we need to see more of from the Mets," wrote one commenter on "It was bush league, and did nothing for the Mets’ reputation other than to make them look like crybabies."

Perhaps K-Rod's bushiest behavior thus far occured last year, when he and then-Yankees closer Brian Bruney almost came to blows after BB called Rodriguez out for over-exuberant celebrations.

"[K-Rod] is not a very well liked player and in fact their were always rumblings in the Angel clubhouse about his bs antics and bush league celebrations," wrote one reader on the Journal News (NY) baseball blog.

Bush league of course means low-level, trashy behavior--actions not deemed worth of men who've made the Big Show. Maybe it's a Rodriguez thing, but it seems the game's best player--yes, Alex Rodriguez--is the one ballplayer most identified with bush league play. The slapping incident against Bronson Arroyo and the Red Sox in the ALCS. ("You know what, it was a bush-league play," said Curt Schilling.) The barking at the Blue Jays infielder as he attempted to catch a pop-up ("Big league smarts or bush league stunt," wondered the AP.) The stepping on Dallas Braden's mound. The announcing his free agency during the World Series.

You get the picture.

Bush league. Geez, the games in the bush league must've been fun to watch! Brawls! Fielders getting pantsed, catchers sliding Wet Willies through batter's ear holes! Players rubbing their rear ends on pitchers' beloved pitching rubbers.

Where does "bush league" come from? Wikipedia's baseball glossary offers this definition:

A slang term used to describe play that is of minor league or unprofessional quality. The "bushes" or the "sticks" are small towns where minor league teams may operate, the latter term also used in the acting profession. says the term dates back to 1908.

...from bush in the slang sense of "rural, provincial," which originally was not a value judgment.

The Seattle rock outfit Pearl Jam offered the song "BushLeaguer" on 2002's "Riot Act" album. The song ripped then-President George Bush, and featured some baseball-inspired lyrics about the former president and Texas Rangers owner.

A confidence man, but why so beleaguered?
He's not a leader, he's a Texas leaguer
Swinging for the fence, got lucky with a strike
Drilling for fear, makes the job simple
Born on third, thinks he got a triple

Five Bush's have played in the major leagues, according to, most recently Randy Bush (1982-1993) and Homer Bush (1997-2004).

Don't let Homer's moniker fool you--the guy only hit 11 dingers across nine seasons.

Bush's on-field behavior, however, was anything but bush league.

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