For the last 20+ years, there has been an interesting debate amongst coaches, managers and athletic performance professionals. The question is: do athletes respond to more structure and team rules? Or, do they flourish more, only restricted by the rules of the game they are playing? Should coaches let athletes "be themselves" or should athletes "conform" to the team they play for? Believe it or not, this question goes ascends to the major leagues.

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Newly acquired relief pitcher Keynan Middleton of the New York Yankees has some strong feelings on the subject. Middleton came to New York at the trade deadline in a deal by GM Brian Cashman with the Chicago White Sox. The right-hander welcomed his escape from the south side of the "Windy City".

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Middleton blamed the White Sox poor performance on the team's lack of structure. The relief pitcher, who signed with Chicago as a free agent prior to the 2023 season, told Karl Rasmussen of si.com, “We came in with no rules. I don't know how you police the culture if there are no rules or guidelines to follow because everyone is doing their own thing. Like, how do you say anything about it because there are no rules?" Middleton appears to have gone from one extreme to the other, quickly shaving after getting the news of the trade to New York.

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Middleton blasted his ex-teammates prior to the Yankees' three game series this week at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. “You have rookies sleeping in the bullpen during the game. You have guys missing meetings ... there are no consequences for any of this stuff." Eager managers, coaches and players will provide plenty of examples on both sides of this argument. One thing is for sure, since the Yankees facial hair and other rules went into effect in 1976, the Bronx Bombers have won seven World Series championships. In that same period, the White Sox have won one. Food for thought.

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