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As major leaguers come out of their respective clubhouses for pre-game warmups and batting practice, they often greet opponents with big hugs. Since free agency and increased trading, players move from one team to another frequently.

So one’s recent teammate or even road-trip roomie is often found in the opposing dugout. The bear hugs in the outfield grass beneath the fungo-struck flies are usually a sign it’s the first game of a new series.

Watching these displays of affection reminded me of a time when Major League Baseball officials frowned on such action and even imposed fines on the guilty. Fraternizing with the other team was out-of-bounds conduct.

It seemed particular odd when some opposing players were brothers like Phil and Joe Niekro. Surely they did their catching up in stadium tunnel or some other more private place.

Today highly-paid players seem less concerned about fines and MLB officials have a lot more to worry about than inter-team high-fives and back pats.

And some players change teams so often that they may have to look at their own jersey and that of another to remember whether they are — at the moment — friend or foe. So hug on.

Likewise, those of us who live off the diamond know that it’s much easier to spend time with those who share our ideologies and interests. Yet holding those relationships exclusively can reinforce our prejudices and leave our biases unchallenged.

Intentional efforts to — at least on occasion — share conversation and build friendships with those who see the world differently can be beneficial. Surprisingly, they can even become enjoyable.

Fraternizing with someone on the other team might even break down a wall or two. For the results of our interaction are far greater than the score after nine innings of baseball.

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