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.