There exists in the land of the locker room an entity that is defined as much by its ability to self police and dole out infinite wisdom as it is by its knack for producing laughter and raising money for “a cause”.
This “entity” is what we call “The Fine Box”. The fine box is an unassuming little cardboard box that sits amongst the clutter of the clubhouse, hiding amongst the endless rolls of tape, bottles of sun block and piles of unclaimed laundry. Unlike the quick fix nature of tape and temporary protection of sun block, the fine box is full of lasting wisdom, laughter and lessons learned that will not soon be forgotten.
Here is what I mean. Whenever a teammates violates some kind of written or unwritten rule of baseball, the clubhouse, common sense, and/or team camaraderie, they get “put in the box”. Getting “put in the box” means your violation gets written on a small piece of paper and a small monetary fine is proposed along with it. Here are some semi-fictional examples, “Tom fines Larry $1 for tossing his bat to the dugout after the 3rd ball and running to 1st like he had walked already, 4 balls before a walk buddy”, “Jerry fines the groundskeeper $5 for accidentally putting a softball field in center field”, “John fines Rob $1 for wearing a beanie to try and look cool when it was 95 degrees outside”, “Lou fines Brad $2 for never buying any seeds and always bumming them off everyone else”, or “Bob fines Matt $2 for being in the clubhouse for the entire batting practice instead of helping shag because he was “stretching”‘. As you can see, it is a simple and playful way of keeping everyone in order and teaching lessons to teammates that may or may not know better.
How does it work you ask? Well, Most of the time, fines are usually kept to offenses that occur at the field, but every once in a while, off field occurrences are just too funny or ridiculous not to get put in the box. All is fair in the court of the fine box though. Much like our societies judicial system, just because you are charged with the crime, does not mean you are instantly guilty. Each defendant can fight the accusation and have a chance to explain himself. On the given day that all the fines are read and cases heard, there is a judge that oversees the process. The judge is usually one of the veterans. He reads each fine, then allows the accuser and defendant to state their cases to the jury of peers (which is usually hilarious). The defendant can either accept his fine or he can fight it and leave it to a team vote to decide who wins, the judge is the tie breaker if there happens to be a tie. If the accuser loses, he has to pay double the fine, if the defendant loses, he has to pay double the fine.
The money which is collected usually gets saved up throughout the year and is either donated, used to buy something for the clubhouse (like an ihome or ping pong table, etc), or given to the clubby to cover everyone’s dues, or used for some kind of team function at the end of the year, again this is voted on by the team. That is how the fine box works. Feel free to try it in your office or home, assuming no one takes it too seriously and gets their feelings hurt.
We have yet to hold our first court this year, but the fine box is filling up fast with laughable violations and lessons to be learned.