Has MLB's Rookie Hazing Gone Too Far?


To reasonable fans like you or me, rookie hazing is a relatively harmless baseball tradition. It usually happens during one of the last road trips of the season when veteran players force the rookies to dress up in a silly costume they're forced to wear from the ballpark to the airport to the hotel. Take a look at some pictures from year's past -- it's all in good fun, right?

Apparently not. After reading about the Angels continuing the tradition this year, Examiner.com columnist Des Martini has had enough:

Maybe I'm becoming Ned Flanders in my rapidly approaching old age, but this latest ugly baseball hazing makes me ill. What kind of grown men get their kicks by forcing other grown men to stuff their over-sized bodies into tight women's clothing?

If some of the Angels foster homoerotic fantasies, that's their business. And what they do in private is their own business. But for God's sake, please don't make the general public suffer the sight of your fantasies on parade.

I appreciate Martini's feigned outrage, but let's set some things straight. By and large, the "general public" didn't "suffer the sight" of anything -- they read about the amusing story on a beat writer's blog, which is where Martini himself admitted to finding out about it. Have pictures of the Angels' rookies surfaced? If so, I haven't seen them.

Of course, not all rookies are fortunate enough to avoid the camera's eye -- for better or worse, it'll be a long time before I forget seeing these images of the Padres dressed up like Hooters Girls -- but still, it seems obvious that no one is "forced" to do anything.

Even Milton Bradley, quite possibly baseball's most ill-tempered man this side of Elijah Dukes, thinks it's all good fun. In an interview with MLB.com last year, he talked about how he had to take part in the tradition twice, once with the Expos in 2000 and again with the Indians in 2001:

"I didn't get hassled at all, people just laughed at me," Bradley said. "They were laughing with me because I wasn't embarrassed about it. It was fun for me. I mean, you're in the big leagues and you get the opportunity to be hazed. Who doesn't want that?"

Well, Martini, for one. Why is he so against it? Finally, near the end of his rant on Examiner.com he explains:

What possible harm can come of such innocent high jinx? Do a Google search and you'll find an epidemic of hazing stories at the high school level, a lot of them related to sports rituals. A Sports Illustrated article from 2003, "A Rite Gone Terribly Wrong," details the grotesque and Neanderthal hazing that occurred at a high school football camp. The ringleaders forced underclassmen to sodomize one another with a broomstick that had been dipped in a burning ointment.

So let me get this straight ... major league baseball players shouldn't make rookies dress up like Hooters Girls because a high school kid might be inspired to shove a broomstick up a classmate's rectum. And not just any broomstick, but a broomstick "dipped in burning ointment" ... such as Buffalo wing sauce?

Of course, I finally see the connection! Either that, or Martini is grasping at straws. But it's definitely one or the other.

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