Baseball Installs An Anti-Hazing, Anti-Bullying Policy That Proves It Doesn’t Understand What’s Wrong With Bullying And Hazing


Every year, Major League Baseball teams indulge in a high-profile, stupid and offensive ritual by forcing their rookies to dress in ridiculous costumes as they travel  home after their final road trip. This is  hazing, the team’s veterans humiliating the team’s young players and forcing them to show proper deference and character by submitting to it. Most of the time, the humiliation involved dressing in drag, because, as every red-blooded American male knows, nothing is worse than being compared to a woman.

Sure, the resulting photos were sometimes funny in a Benny Hill/Milton Berle way, except that nobody over the emotional age of 12 ever found Benny or Uncle Miltie’s drag bits funny. Besides, those comics liked dressing up in drag, and did so without coercion. That’s very different from forcing someone else to do it, which is what MLB teams allowed their players to do, producing spectacles like these (and the one above):




MLB’s new agreement with the Players Union finally forbids some of this nonsense, which is good because it’s more than nonsense.  All hazing is institutionalized abuse, and the fact that some victims don’t mind it, or that some hazing is harmless, or that it isn’t meant to be cruel, doesn’t change what hazing is and has always been: those with power abusing it at the expense of someone who has a reason to submit to it. There is no consent, and it cannot be justified, except with rationalizations like “It’s always been done this way,” and “Nobody’s complained before.”

Unfortunately, MLB, being incorrigibly dumb, didn’t ban all hazing and bullying in the new agreement, or ban what they did ban for the right reasons. The policy, obtained by The Associated Press, prohibits “requiring, coercing or encouraging” players from “dressing up as women or wearing costumes that may be offensive to individuals based on their race, sex, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identify or other characteristic.”

Explained MLB Vice President Paul Mifsud:

“[I]n light of social media, which in our view sort of unfortunately publicized a lot of the dressing up of the players … those kind of things which in our view were insensitive and potentially offensive to a number of groups. There’s lots of pictures of baseball players dressed up as Disney princesses.”

What an idiot. So baseball bans some forms of hazing and bullying, not because hazing and bullying are wrong, but because of “social media” exposure and political correctness. Under the policy, teams can still force rookies to parade through airports dressed as chickens, or ZZ Top, or Batman or Jiminy Glick, because NOW won’t complain. So making rookies dress up like the Tampa Bay Rays young players this season is presumably just fine:


Well, it’s a start, I guess.

Baby ethics steps for Ethics Dunces.


Facts and Graphics: Yahoo!

42 thoughts on “Baseball Installs An Anti-Hazing, Anti-Bullying Policy That Proves It Doesn’t Understand What’s Wrong With Bullying And Hazing

  1. “Well, it’s a start, I guess.

    Baby ethics steps for Ethics Dunces.”

    Can you call anything a start if it’s for the wrong reasons and therefore heading the wrong direction?

    • Good point. Stopping a substantial part of the practice is a start: its back to the classic ethics debate of whether the right thing is less right if it’s done for the wrong reasons. Either the teams will just drop the practice because without dresses it isn’t fun for them any more, or they will move to something so repulsive, like making the players dress as babies in diapers, that MLB sees the light.

      • “its back to the classic ethics debate of whether the right thing is less right if it’s done for the wrong reasons.”

        I think so. Because if the “right result” is acceptable, its our human nature to assume then that the rationale is also right… which then solidifies that method of thinking, leading to the next decision being the wrong one.

  2. Looking at the last picture, I think a lot of women and gays would be just fine seeing the rookies dress up like this. They could go full chippendale dancers outfits.

  3. Not a fan of the time-honored naval “crossing the line” ceremony, then, I take it? (where sailors who have never crossed the equator before are ritually humiliated by their more seasoned comrades-in-arms in a mock Neptune’s Court)

    • I remain undecided about certain forms of hazing in military settings. Military training, especially the opening phases of it, are specifically geared towards breaking down the individual and inculcating an instinctive drive to make others-based and team-based decisions. Some forms of hazing, though juvenile looking from the outside, actually do aid in psychologically fearing an individual to think less of themselves and more of the group.

      I’m undecided.

      In the world of “it worked out for the best” rationalizations, and in no way related to the above paragraph, I’m reminded of a story we heard as Aggies. I can’t verify this story for the life of me. An Old Ag was a prisoner of war and sent to a particularly brutal camp where he suffered. Later he gave a talk at some alumni gathering or something where he credited his ability to cope with his captive tormentors because as he mentioned, two of his sophomores were even meaner to him as a freshman than the POW guards. Those two former sophomores, now alumni themselves happened to be in the audience and sunk in their chairs in embarrassment. Though he didn’t name them.

      Of course I can’t verify that at all.

      • I remember my boot camp where the DI’s were pretty much free to do what they wanted. Fear of screwing up was pretty much instilled into us. Of course there was war going on at the time so there was a purpose to it. I don’t really see where this fits the catagory of hazing.

        • It doesn’t. What my DI’s did other may call hazing, I don’t as it was used to teach us very important lessons about team work, determination , over coming pain, not to screw up and that sometimes you fail but if you keep on trying you will succeed.

          • But is that the delineator between hazing and not? The mere ability to claim it is purposeful?

            This is why I’m undecided in the scope of some forms of military hazing. I would still consider some of what was done to us as hazing, but it most definitely served a purpose.

            • “I would still consider some of what was done to us as hazing, but it most definitely served a purpose.”

              I agree , but the problem arises is when civilians view all of it as hazing.

              When the Corps came out with its anti hazing order a couple years back I thought every 1st Sgt and Top was going to have a conniption fit.

  4. Jocks don’t do PR. That in itself would be adequate response.

    Hazing is wrong, power is always abused. The abuse of power by those who pick the team, however, is god-like to an aspiring or actual player.

    Yes,of course teams respond to threats to their fame and thus to revenue and various business opportunities, sponsorship for example. You didn’t surely expect any morsel of compassion from a system that can end a young person’s hopes with a squad list, surely?

      • Merit alone. I see. Not one decision is ever made on a bad judgement of good character or keeping in line or keeping your mouth shut. College sports the last bastion of virtuous unaccountable power.

        Is that the picture you are painting?

        Money Jack, the only motive is money. College sports are rotten to the core with it. Hell, you point it out often enough.

        • The post was about MLB, and only MLB, and hazing as a practice anywhere. Merit or perceived merit. Obviously, it’s not a perfect science. Read past posts. I think big time college sports should be banned.

          • My apologies for mis-identifying. The thought of professional sports having a hazing culture is baffling to me. Players as I understand it make a large slice of the revenue of the clubs. Why isn’t hazing just competed out of clubs in that case. One would expect a professional player to have zero-tolerance for such practices and refuse to take part. Moreover why would any pro-coach or team manager allow it? The hazing to bullying link is surely understood. And I can’t believe that bullying can possibly be positively correlated with team performance.

            So what the heck is this story actually telling us? Not about hazing so much as about work for money.

            Is hazing of males part of work culture in America?
            or does hazing emerge from college sports and fraternity induction rituals?

            Do we have a problem here? or a clue?

            • Baseball isn’t a big time collage sport. It isn’t televised, and doesn’t make huge revenues. There isn’t a single huge-salaried coach anywhere. What do you think is the average crowd for a college game? My school has a baseball program that sent players to the majors, and when I was student we never heard about the games.

  5. Last season, the Braves, Brewers, and Cardinals all sent their rookies, in full uniform, to the Starbucks across from Wrigley Field on a coffee run.

    Is that hazing, and if so, should it be banned?

    (Serious question, thanks for your reply.)

    • It’s a slippery slope. Sure, that’s minor, but where’s the line? I heard Jerry Remy go off on this last season, and he said that hazing just allowed the jerks on the team to abuse the kids, and he refused to do it. Golden Rule. He also said that now he sees more an more players being kind and supportive to the rookies, and that it makes them better, more secure players.

  6. I’ve got to part ways with you Jack. Many years ago, I was working my way through college at a factory. It was so loud that we had to use radios that clipped on our belts to communicate. Some of my co-workers urged me to switch to another frequency and ask the forklift driver how his sister’s piano lessons were going. That didn’t make sense to me, but I was 19, a little naïve, and they insisted he was real proud of her and that I could curry favor with him. So I did it – only to have him tell me that his sister was in a car accident the week before and lost both her arms.

    They let this go on for an hour or so before they told me it was a big joke. Apparently, this was a standard joke played on new people. I, of course, was more relieved than angry. But as one of the older, wiser workers said, in a fatherly sort of way, “maybe you’ll learn to keep your *$&# mouth shut.” And learn I did. One of the best things that ever happened to me. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t sound quite right, it probably isn’t. Speak less, not more. Mind your own business. We have a few millennials here who, if they had the same experience, would be better at their job and better people.

    By the way, I loved those guys.

    • No, sorry but I don’t buy it.I’m sure it happened. But that was ‘learn to keep your mouth shut, we have our ways . . .’
      ways the boss doesn’t know about
      ways to ‘get the job done’
      ways to keep order
      ways that would have gone further if you didn’t learn this way

      that was the way of the ‘cubby hole’, bad safety practices, cheating your time sheet. Ways to get away with manslaughter, ways to lie on company forms.

      i hate capitalism. But work situations where the boss isn’t accountable for the factory rules actually being follewed — no. And that is the sense I’m getting from your story. I’ve met it once or twice over the years. Didn’t care for it much.

      Apologies if I’m wrong, but, no. .. . no.. Not right.

      • I don’t know if you’re wrong because I don’t understand a one word of what you said. I took it and bettered myself with it, that’s all I’m trying to say.

  7. Jack, I apologize if I missed anything you mentioned about it, but have you watched any of the “Pitch” episodes? (if you know what I’m referring to) I am trying to catch up with multiple episodes that I recorded. I don’t know if I can make it through them (but I don’t want to say why).

      • I don’t think embarrassment is warranted. I am really having a hard time keeping my attention focused on it, and am unsure why. So I am left speculating: Is it because I already have seen the glass ceiling broken by so many, so well, in so many professions, that I just can’t relate what I am watching to some deeply and unerasably etched picture of how I think THIS particular ceiling-breaking would go? At the same time, the premise of the series feeds my ego by aligning with my expectation of which position will be played by the eventual ceiling-breaker.

        • I may be speaking out of turn here, Lucky – I don’t do tv. Nonetheless, I followed the precis of episodes online and the reviews of the show and found that the detractions (there were no out-and-out detractors) have been just what I supposed in light of real-world expectations of a First Lady, surrounded by a Jackie Robinson-like oppositional feeling — that’s two of the three cliches — plus the inability of the medium to allow her to go to the third one, the one that anyone, including feminists, admittedly or not, who looks at girls in boy’s sports will stop to consider, if not assume, just as we do with boys-in-tights. However talented or skillful they are. There is a fourth wall, though, and that’s the inability our culture (and maybe all of them) has to allow … how can I put this? … to allow “hard” to be “normal” when it comes to females. Certain characteristics are hard-wired still.

          As I said, and I know I’m treading on thin ice here: I haven’t seen the show but I’m betting that besides not being able to suspend disbelief in her pitching skill — or getting anywhere in the first place after hurling 10 count-em 10balls the first time around! Are they kidding?? –, the writers or producers or both have made her character emotionally less stable than they would have if she were a guy and at the same time given her more leeway than they would if she were truly a pro player. Otherwise, where’s the drama?

          So, if you watched it just because you’re a fan of the game or the Padres or an MLB backdrop with some action or behind-the-scenes management storylines included, and the drama isn’t great enough to make you a fan of the show itself, well, it’s just another sitcom-ground ball. Trade it for next season.

            • I appreciate your thoughts, Pennagain. I think of the female lead in “Pitch” as quite strong emotionally, even exemplary in stability in comparison to many, if not most, of the guy characters. My turn on thin ice: I think the writers et al (and the actress) have done well to portray her in a way that fits well with most of the predominant preconceptions (if not stereotypes) of female celebrities and athletes that exist in American minds…but, they have way-too-far over-done the leading males’ sexism.

              Maybe it’s that “Jackie Robinson-like oppositional feeling,” or how it is portrayed, that is making it hard for me to stay with the storyline. Call me naïve, but I guess I really would expect less overt hostility and resistance to the first female major leaguer than is shown, BECAUSE of the Jackie Robinson history. I especially expect that her teammates would be almost unanimously (and immediately) more accepting of her, and understanding (if in an awkward, but unforced way) of the social dynamics *external* to their roster that could be reasonably expected due to her unique status. I say “unique status” because I believe (I could be wrong) that baseball history has already made clear (for now, so far) what is hard and what is normal for females, insofar as opportunity to play regularly in MLB.

              I was a little annoyed at the casting of the first female as also black – a wasted opportunity to segregate racism and misogyny, so as to allow viewers to see an overcoming of misogyny alone – even if the true odds are that the first female major leaguer WILL be black. And/or even, transgendered. But, portraying ALL of that in a TV show would be just way too much of a challenge – and not a sufficient attractant of an audience of baseball-loving guys like me, so instead, we see the “hot young thing” – to preach against combined or compounded prejudices.

              It’s a nit-pick, but I also would expect both parents to be absolutely united in purpose and dedication to enabling their girl to make it in the bigs. Or, for a twist, for a single biological parent (the mother) to be united with a man in her life in a shared obsession to enable the girl to succeed.

              • – a wasted opportunity to segregate racism and misogyny, so as to allow viewers to see an overcoming of misogyny alone –

                You’re on it! That’s why the combination was bothering me. Not that they wrote it that way, but that they felt (I’m guessing here, but I’d stand behind it) they had to write it that way … or else be accused of racism. And both racism and sexism are identified and dealt with differently among the different communities. Now, if they’d focused on four new rookies instead of just one . . . .

  8. It is interesting to note, unless it’s a baseball policy, it seems it is limited only to the MLB and MLBPA, and thus excluding the minor leagues, who are not a part of the CBA. So while it is banned in the Bigs, it is not in the minors? Unless I am missing something here.

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