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Former players express displeasure with MLB’s new anti-hazing rule

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Update (7:51 PM EST): The Associated Press has some more quotes, including from Mets GM Sandy Alderson and Rockies GM Jeff Bridich.

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On Monday, the Associated Press reported that, as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, Major League Baseball has banned “offensive” hazing, referring to the tradition in which veteran baseball players make their rookie teammates dress up like women as a method of — they claim — “team bonding.”

We’ve covered the topic here many times before. In short, the practice is misogynistic, transphobic, and homophobic. Breaking down the humor of the ritual illuminates this fact. The point of making a male teammate dress up like a woman and/or wearing a pink backpack is to make him feminine. Femininity, compared to masculinity, is worse in their eyes; weaker. A lot of defenders of the tradition counter with, “It’s just making them different.” But when shown the myriad other ways they can make their teammate “different,” such as dressing up like a superhero, they reveal how singularly focused they are on humiliating rookies in this very specific way.

Unsurprisingly, some retired players are expressing their displeasure over the new anti-hazing rule.

There were a couple players who were happy about the new rule. Nationals pitcher Shawn Kelley:

And former slugger Carlos Pena:

Last month, multiple prospects in the Rangers’ minor league system were accused of sexually assaulting a teammate in a hazing incident. That incident has ties to the dress-up style of hazing done in the majors. The point of assaulting their teammate in the way that they did was to emasculate him. Even if the dress-up shenanigans were as innocent as its supporters claim — and it isn’t — ending that will also help to stem more serious styles of hazing down the road by eroding the culture.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.