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Sandy Alderson, Huston Street react to the new anti-hazing rule

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There isn’t a ton of news happening, so perhaps it’s inevitable that the anti-hazing rules announced this week have come to dominate the conversation in major league baseball. There was the announcement and then the backlash from former players. Today, on Day 3, we have, for the first time, reactions from a couple of figures currently in the game.

The first one comes from Mets GM Sandy Alderson. Alderson is happy to see the new rule in place because he thinks hazing is counterproductive. From Marc Carig’s report in Newsday:

“It’s something I’m very concerned about as a potential issue . . . I’ve seen it in the military. For all the camaraderie it’s supposed to promote, it’s divisive and I think undercuts morale. So you’ve got to be very careful about that . . . Is it constructive? Is it useful? Is it juvenile? It’s probably juvenile,” he said. “It’s probably not useful or constructive in too many ways.”

I dunno, man. I was told by many of you that only people in favor of the Wussification of America and people who have never been around a baseball team opposed these hazing rituals. That an ex-Marine who has worked in baseball for 35 years feels this way is . . . confusing!

On the other end of the spectrum is Angels reliever Huston Street. Street is the first current player to go on the record about all of this. He penned a long email to the Associated Press on the matter, stressing that he is against all forms of bullying and abusive behavior, but defending the act of dressing up rookies as women as a form of team building. He, rather hamfistedly, but at least earnestly, compares the hazing to comedians and the theater and stuff. I don’t know about that, but I think he is right when he says a new set of rituals will likely arise and that, unlike the stuff that was just banned, players will keep it out of the public eye.

But that’s the key part of it, right? The public eye? Major League Baseball did not ban this stuff because it’s progressive or because it listened to commies like Bill and me arguing for them to stop it. They banned it because each September the images of the hazing were all over social media thanks to players sharing it, leading to bad press (which, yes, included commies like Bill and me yelling about it). If it had always been kept private I’m sure MLB wouldn’t have said a thing about it.

Which makes some sense. These guys are adults and, amongst themselves, should be able to do whatever they want. But as we’re always told when they do things fans don’t like, they’re role models, whether they want to be or not. Maybe they should not be — I don’t think they should be — but they are seen as such by most. When they’re seen doing degrading things, it sends a message that the league doesn’t want out there and it is thus understandable that the league wants it gone.

Major League Baseball threatens to walk away from Minor League Baseball entirely

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The war between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball escalated significantly last night, with Minor League Baseball releasing a memo accusing Major League Baseball of “repeatedly and inaccurately” describing the former’s stance in negotiations and Major League Baseball responding by threatening to cut ties with Minor League Baseball entirely.

As you’re no doubt aware, negotiations of the next, 10-year Professional Baseball Agreement, which governs the relationship between the big leagues and the minors — and which is set to expire following the 2020 season — have turned acrimonious. Whereas past negotiations have been quick and uncontroversial, this time Major League Baseball presented Minor League Baseball with a plan to essentially contract 42 minor league baseball teams by eliminating their major league affiliation while demanding that Minor League Baseball undertake far more of the financial burden of player development which is normally the responsibility of the majors.

That plan became public in October when Baseball America reported on it, after which elected officials such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren began weighing in on the side of Minor League Baseball. Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball were not happy with all of that and, on Wednesday, Manfred bashed Minor League Baseball for taking the negotiations public and accused Minor League Baseball of intransigence, saying the minors had assumed a “take it or leave it” negotiating stance.

Last night Minor League Baseball bashed back in the form of a four-page public memo countering Manfred’s claims, with point-point-by-point rebuttals of Major League Baseball’s talking points on various matters ranging from stadium facilities, team travel, and player health and welfare. You can read the memo in this Twitter thread from Josh Norris of Baseball America.

Major League Baseball responded with its own public statement last night. But rather than publicly rebut Minor League Baseball’s claims, it threatened to simply drop any agreement with Minor League Baseball and, presumably start its own minor league system bypassing MiLB entirely:

“If the National Association [of Minor League Clubs] has an interest in an agreement with Major League Baseball, it must address the very significant issues with the current system at the bargaining table. Otherwise, MLB clubs will be free to affiliate with any minor league team or potential team in the United States, including independent league teams and cities which are not permitted to compete for an affiliate under the current agreement.”

So, in the space of about 48 hours, Manfred has gone from being angry at the existence of public negotiations to negotiating in public, angrily.

As for Minor League Baseball going public itself, one Minor League Baseball owner’s comments to the Los Angeles Times seems to sum up the thinking pretty well:

“Rob is attempting to decimate the industry, destroy baseball in communities and eliminate thousands of jobs, and he’s upset that the owners of the teams have gone public with that information in an effort to save their teams. That’s rich.”

Things, it seems, are going to get far worse before they get better. If, in fact, they do get better.