It was a strange sight in these times of labor strife. It was like spotting Donald Fehr without a mirror, or Bud Selig with a comb.
It occurred in the Dodger clubhouse Tuesday afternoon, where suddenly it was quiet enough to hear a bargaining chip drop.
It was common sense.
Coming from the mouth of a player representative.
It was the Dodgers' Paul Lo Duca, apologizing if he offended any fans by his hardened remarks uttered earlier this week about the possibility of a strike.
"The fans have been great, and I do apologize," he said. "I'm not greedy. I don't want the fans to perceive me that way ... these fans, they've been on a roller coaster for a while, and I can understand their frustration."
"I know I've been brass the last couple of days, said some things that I probably should not have said," he said. "My frustration has cumulated to where my play on the field has not been the way I like to play."
A player admitting that he may have been wrong. A player acknowledging the fans' unhappiness. A player confessing that Friday's pending strike has affected his batting average.
As if that's not enough, get this:
The Dodgers, correctly worried that Lo Duca was forever tarnishing his image with his militant stand, had subtly suggested that he chill out.
So Lo Duca wisely chilled out.
With this one small agreement between player and management so easily reached, can a larger settlement be far behind?
I still have faith in the facts. I'm still convinced that, when push comes to picket, major leaguers are just too street smart to be hoodwinked by a union that no longer acts in its best interests.
I still think there will be no strike.
Just as they forced Donald Fehr's slick hand on the issue of steroids, forcing the union to agree to a testing policy that was finalized Tuesday, I think the veterans will back him down on the other issues.
They will realize that they are risking their careers strictly to satisfy Fehr's desire to be right.
They will understand that instead of fighting for something as noble as working conditions or benefits, they are fighting for something as shallow as victory.
They will comprehend that they would return from this strike as a much weaker union, if even the same union.
They will tell Fehr to sign the stupid deal, and that will be that.
Indications are everywhere.
A journeyman named Todd Pratt was popping off in Philadelphia, recognizing correctly that the union does not speak for those players who are not set for life.
A smart guy named Tom Glavine said he was "optimistic that we're going to get something done."
Then, Tuesday, with everyone crowded around Lo Duca expecting him to threaten and rip as he did earlier this week, he morphed from hawk to dove.
"I don't think 30 owners want to strike," he said. "I don't think the players want to strike."
Wait a minute.
Was this the same guy who, earlier this week, said, "It's getting to be a joke.... They think we're bluffing, but we're not"?
Didn't he also say, "If you've ever heard [Fehr] talking to Bud Selig, it's like a college graduate to a kindergartener"?
And wasn't that him barking that, "It's getting to the point now where we've given a lot. When are they going to give something?"
In only his second full major league season, he was becoming Norma Rae Lo Duca, which works only if you are working in a sweatshop.
With some of the Dodger fans coming to the games directly from such sweatshops, it does not work here.
He began getting booed. He continued struggling.
His batting average, which has suffered the worst dip of any major leaguer since the All-Star break--.326 before, .201 since--kept falling.
So the Dodgers reportedly sidled up to him and, probably while looking the other way, whispered a two-word piece of advice.
"Yeah, I've heard that name a couple of times lately," Lo Duca said with a grin.
You remember Brett Butler.
Wonderful little player a decade ago, great leadoff hitter, successfully battled throat cancer ...
And still probably best known for his militant union stand in 1994 against replacement player Mike Busch.
When Busch joined the team in August of that season, after showing up in spring training when the players were on strike, Butler led the move to ostracize him.
"He's a scab, pure and simple," Butler said at the time.
At that precise moment, the constant booing of Butler began.
For all those looking to vent their frustration over the current state of the game, Butler gave them a face.
This week, Lo Duca gave them the same face.
Until Tuesday's about face.
It was probably a coincidence that he later delivered the game-winning hit Tuesday night. Or was it?
He acknowledged his comments earlier in the week were partly based on understanding the fight of the average player, considering it took him eight minor-league seasons and more than a dozen moves to reach this point.
"I've been through a lot of frustration to get here," he said, referring to an eight-year minor league career filled with doubters. "I'm sorry, but I don't trust anybody anymore."
However, he said, "I'm happy. I'm not complaining. I'm just thrilled to be here."
Good thing somebody is. Here's hoping it's contagious, and quick.
Bill Plaschke can be reached at email@example.com.