Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

Great: it’s rookie hazing season again


Per baseball’s longstanding tradition of hazing rookies, the Los Angeles Dodgers veterans made their rookies dress up in cheerleader uniforms for their flight from Miami to New York. They were later marched down the street in Manhattan wearing them.

I hate this sort of thing. Hazing is dumb no matter how much the perpetrators of it hide behind “tradition” to justify it (and “tradition” usually boils down to “well, we had to do it”). But this particular sort of hazing — requiring rookies to dress in wigs, dresses, bikinis, costumes and other items that those doing the hazing consider to be feminine — sends the message that being feminine in this particular way is something to be mocked. Maybe they don’t mean it that way, but when these hazing rituals moved from the privacy of the clubhouse and the relative anonymity of a ballclub’s travel to social media postings boosted to millions, that marginalizing message is inevitably sent, even if it’s unwitting. “Haha, he’s wearing a dress,” is about the lowest form of “humor.”

All of that said, if these players were to don a cheerleader outfit of their own volition, as opposed to some sort of mandatory hazing ritual, it’d be another matter. Then it’s just someone having fun or whatever. So I guess Yasiel Puig putting on one of the cheerleader’s uniform and rooting for the Rams is cool:

All in all, though: I’d prefer to forego the fun of Puig doing this if it meant that this sort of retrograde hazing didn’t take place anymore. Make the rookies get you coffee or sing their high school fight song if you must do this, but enough with the cross-dressing nonsense.

The A’s are probably going to release Danny Valencia too


Last night the Oakland Athletics released Billy Butler. It wasn’t a shock as Butler has underperformed in both of his years with the A’s and was recently involved in a clubhouse altercation with teammate Danny Valencia. If you think, however, that the Butler release was the A’s tacit way of holding Butler responsible for the altercation, think again, because the A’s are going to release Valencia too.

That comes via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, who says that Valencia is not likely to last the final three weeks of the season. Given that Valencia has played well this year — he’s hitting .289/.346/.458, with a lot of that production coming as a lefty-masher — it’s hard not to see the impending move as the A’s turning the page on what has been a tumultuous clubhouse this season. Coco Crisp, who bristled over his lack of playing time and his belief that the A’s were trying to keep his 2017 option from vesting, was traded two weeks ago.


How Michael Cuddyer unwittingly saved a teammate’s life on 9/11


If I ever heard this story before I had completely forgotten it. But I’m fairly sure I hadn’t heard it before. If you haven’t, by all means, click on Kevin Kernan’s story at the New York Post about reliever Brad Thomas, Michael Cuddyer and a near-miss on September 11, 2001.

Short version: reliever Brad Thomas and Michael Cuddyer were teammates on the Minnesota Twins’ Double-A team in New Britain. They were playing in the Double-A playoffs together in September, 2001. Their first round series was scheduled to end, one way or another, on September 10. Thomas and his fiancee had tickets on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles to go home in the event New Britain lost the series. Cuddyer’s homers helped them move on to the next round, however, so Thomas didn’t use his tickets. Flight 11, of course, was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center.

The forces which propel our lives forward are unknowable as we look forward and are often incomprehensible looking backwards.