Must-click link: sexual depravity — and possibly rape — in the minor leagues

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Dirk Hayhurst writes about his 2003 rookie league team, the Eugene Emeralds over at Sports on Earth. Specifically, their off-the-field sexual habits which ranged from mere immaturity and over-clocked machismo to what seems to have been, by any definition of the term, rape.

It started with mere exhibitionism — players letting other players watch through windows when they brought women back to their rooms, which they called “show time” — but eventually devolved into videotaping each other having sex without the consent of the woman involved. Then it devolved into sheer odiousness and, if one had been so inclined to speak up at the time, illegality: “running a train.” In which, with the lights out, a player would get out of bed, saying he needed to use the bathroom, only to be replaced by another player who would sneak in through the window and take his place without the woman knowing:

There is, of course, another name for “Running the Train”: rape. The women most likely didn’t know what was happening and could not have consented to it. Perhaps they were too afraid to object once they realized. When the subject came up, however, the guys on the team had a different explanation: “They wanted it, man. Besides, we joked about it before we brought them back to the hotel. You know, made them feel like it was their idea. Besides, chicks love ballplayers!”

“Aren’t you worried that this is going to come back to bite you in the ass?” I asked, after the latest recounting of the “train schedule.”

“Why? You gonna tell?”

Hayhurst is telling now (in pretty graphic terms, so be warned). And, as has so often happened in the past, someone, somewhere will probably give Hayhurst grief for talking about his past teammates and what went on in his baseball career. But this is way more serious than sharing conversations from the clubhouse. This is about a culture, present in some form in many places, but particularly acute in sports culture, that needs to be exposed and rooted out.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.