When the Rangers were on their way to the World Series last season, their habit of making claws and antlers with their hands earned a lot of notice around the baseball world.
If they make a similar run this time around, shots of hands on Adrian Beltre's head will likely be replacing those images. T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that Beltre's new teammates have taken to rubbing the third baseman's head whenever the notion strikes them. That continues a trend that started in Boston last year and, judging from voluminous video evidence, it isn't a trend that makes Beltre a particularly happy camper.
It doesn't seem to be anything specific about Beltre's head that makes people desperate to touch it. Beltre tells Sullivan that his big mistake was telling someone with the Red Sox that he didn't like getting his head rubbed early last season. That naturally led to an unending stream of teammates doing it and Beltre's comical reactions only egged everybody on. Escaping leading culprits like Victor Martinez didn't prove any respite because Elvis Andrus is determined to keep the tradition alive in Arlington.
"Oh yeah ... a bunch of times," Andrus said. "He better get used to it. He might kick my tail, but I'm going to do it."
Beltre is doing his best to downplay his displeasure with the habit.
"It's all in fun. It's not like I enjoy it, but I know guys try to have fun. Some guys overdo it, but it's no big deal."
It's the right attitude, although the videos from last season don't do much to back up the idea that it is just water off of Beltre's back. The nice thing is that it didn't seem to do anything to stop him from having a big year last year, which means the Rangers shouldn't really worry about head rubs leading to slumps.
The fact that it isn't a contract year could be a different story, but assuming all goes well this will likely go next to last year's hand gestures to create a winning narrative about life in the Rangers clubhouse. Opinions vary wildly about the importance of that kind of chemistry, but no one will argue that it hurts to be part of a team that enjoys itself while taking care of business.