Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman hugs banned for 2020?

So you wanted to make sure you stay healthy before playing baseball?  Atlanta Braves fans, for one group, will certainly miss one aspect of camaraderie among their team.

The Atlanta Braves will be required to avoid a cherished signature act of affection under MLB’s health and safety guide for 2020: the Freddie Freeman hug.

That’s part of the list of protocols (something between “guidelines” and “rules”) in sixty-seven-page document that lists all the “do’s” and “don’ts” for players, coaches, and other team personnel.

No wonder this document is being described as “exhaustive” and “daunting”.

But lots of things we’ve seen with the Atlanta Braves will be prohibited, and that almost takes the fun out of the game.  In fact, I’m not sure whether to can this provision the “Freddie Freeman rule” or the “Albies/Acuna rule” (emphasis added; quoted from theAthletic/subscription required):

No spitting, using smokeless tobacco and sunflower seeds in restricted areas. Any physical interactions such as high-fives, fist bumps and hugs must be avoided at club facilities.

So no hugs – specifically called out.  Also, Ozzie Albies can’t pick on poor Ronnie any longer.  And for the love of Ted Williams, don’t anyone spit.

In fact, there are some visual aids that show how players are to arrange themselves in the dugouts and in the stands.  Yes – there will be enough players hanging around that those not actually in the game will probably be sitting in the stands to ensure that there’s enough separation.

What fun is that?

There’s more… a lot more.  “Group dining is discouraged.  Buffet and communal food spreads are prohibited.”

Need a sauna?  Forget it.  Need a drink from the water cooler?  There won’t be one unless you have your own supply.

Every half-inning, every active player is expected to wash their hands or sanitize them if they’ve handled equipment.  That almost certainly includes bat boys.

Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves Freddie Freeman and former teammate Jason Heyward.

I’m reminded of the courtroom scene from A Few Good Men (1992) where there’s a discussion in testimony about the Marine Guide and General Information Handbook for New Recruits and whether it includes all duties of military life.

The scene pivots on just how complete that guide is – whether it includes details about special kinds of internal punishment (a ‘Code Red’ in this case) or directions to the mess hall.  In short, it’s not that all-encompassing.

This MLB health and safety guide?  By comparison, it might be that comprehensive.  The idea that players will be able to adhere to all aspects of its directives is perhaps a bit comical.  At the same time, MLB can’t be accused of taking a lackadaisical approach to player health, either.

The proposal is just that:  like the season restart proposal rejected last week, the players association will have to approach it and/or negotiate changes to its terms.

Next: An interesting Austin Riley take

But somehow it just won’t feel like Atlanta Braves baseball if Freddie Freeman isn’t allowed to hug anybody.