BASE­BALL

Play­ers say act form of bond­ing

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY RON­ALD BLUM

All out start­ing next sea­son. “Although it hasn’t hap­pened, you could sort of see how like some­one might even dress up in black face and say, ‘Oh, no, we were just dress­ing up,”’ Mis­fud said. “We’ve also un­der­stood that a num­ber of play­ers have com­plained about it.”

Ex­actly when the an­nual dress-up day be­gan around the ma­jors isn’t quite clear. Play­ers of­ten con­sid­ered it a form of bond­ing, and it’s be­come more and more of a pro­duc­tion in re­cent years.

Chase Headley and San Diego Padres new­com­ers wore the skimpy, shiny or­ange shorts and tight, white tops of Hoot­ers servers for a Septem­ber 2008 flight from Den­ver to Wash­ing­ton.

“Times have changed. There is cer­tain con­duct that we have to be con­scious of,” union gen­eral coun­sel Dave Prouty said.

“The im­por­tant thing for us was to rec­og­nize there was a pol­icy but to pre­serve the play­ers’ rights to chal­lenge the level of dis­ci­pline and the im­po­si­tion of dis­ci­pline,” he said.

Not all out­fits are banned — su­per­heroes such as Bat­man and Spi­der-Man are OK.

Other past cos­tumes that would be al­lowed in­clude San Fran­cisco ace Madison Bum­gar­ner as a gi­ant ketchup bot­tle, Mi­ami slug­ger Gian­carlo Stan­ton on the U.S. Olympic men’s wa­ter polo team and Dodgers out­fielder Yasiel Puig as Gumby.

The is­sue of locker room bul­ly­ing erupted a few years ago when an NFL in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that Richie Incog­nito and two other Mi­ami Dol­phins en­gaged in per­sis­tent ha­rass­ment to­ward team­mate Jonathan Martin.

MLB looked at sev­eral col­lege an­ti­haz­ing poli­cies while de­vel­op­ing these new rules.

Last Septem­ber, the New York Mets posted photos and video of play­ers go­ing to Star­bucks in Philadel­phia wear­ing uni­forms from the All-Amer­i­can Girls Pro­fes­sional Base­ball League, as por­trayed in the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own.” Sev­eral other teams en­gaged in sim­i­lar be­hav­ior.

In 2012, Harper and Na­tion­als new­com­ers wore red leo­tards in the style of Gabby Dou­glas and the U.S. women’s gym­nas­tics team for a train ride to New York — vet­eran Wash­ing­ton pitcher Gio Gon­za­lez tweeted a photo.

In 2007, the Yan­kees’ theme was “The Wizard of Oz.” Ian Kennedy wore Dorothy’s ruby red slip­pers for a flight from New York to Tampa, Florida.

“I’d rather be here dress­ing up than any­where else,” Kennedy said at the time. “It makes you feel like one of the guys.”

The new pol­icy states “a player’s ac­tual or per­ceived willing­ness to par­tic­i­pate in pro­hib­ited con­duct does not ex­cuse the ac­tiv­ity from be­ing con­sid­ered a vi­o­la­tion of the pol­icy.”

Not ev­ery­one saw these things as fun. Af­ter he was traded to the Mets in 1992, Jeff Kent threw his pimp’s cos­tume to the floor in the vis­i­tors’ club­house in Mon­treal and de­manded his reg­u­lar clothes — which con­tained the ID he needed to go through cus­toms — be re­turned.

“I paid my rookie dues in Toronto,” he said then. “I feel I have en­dured my em­bar­rass­ments, my pun­ish­ment. I felt I was be­ing taken ad­van­tage of. They wanted to go over­board. I stuck up for my­self. I won’t be pushed around.”

Some com­mon rookie rit­u­als are per­mit­ted.

Last year, the Car­di­nals and Dodgers made their new­com­ers walk across the street from Wrigley Field — in their full uni­forms — to bring back cof­fee be­fore a game against the Cubs.

And rookie re­liev­ers still might find them­selves lug­ging snacks across the di­a­mond to the bullpen for the vet­er­ans.

But re­quir­ing play­ers “to con­sume al­co­holic bev­er­ages or any other kind of drug, or re­quir­ing the in­ges­tion of an un­de­sir­able or un­wanted sub­stance (food, drink, con­coc­tion)” is banned un­der the new col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment.

The pol­icy is in ad­di­tion to the work­place code of con­duct adopted by MLB and the union in 2013 af­ter the of­fice of New York At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Sch­nei­der­man asked to meet with base­ball of­fi­cials and in­quired what rules the sport had in place against bul­ly­ing with re­spect to sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

“The pur­pose of this pol­icy is not to pro­hibit all tra­di­tions re­gard­ing rook­ies or play­ers,” the new pol­icy states, “but rather to pro­hibit con­duct that may cause play­ers phys­i­cal an­guish or harm, may be of­fen­sive to some play­ers, club staff or fans, or are dis­tract­ing to the op­er­a­tion of the club or MLB.”

NEW YORK | That base­ball haz­ing rit­ual of dress­ing up rook­ies as Won­der Woman, Hoot­ers Girls and Dal­las Cow­boys cheer­lead­ers is now banned.

Ma­jor League Base­ball cre­ated an Anti-Haz­ing and Anti-Bul­ly­ing Pol­icy that cov­ers the prac­tice. As part of the sport’s new la­bor deal, rat­i­fied by both sides Tues­day, the play­ers’ union agreed not to con­test it.

The pol­icy, ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press, pro­hibits “re­quir­ing, co­erc­ing or en­cour­ag­ing” play­ers from “dress­ing up as women or wear­ing cos­tumes that may be of­fen­sive to in­di­vid­u­als based on their race, sex, na­tion­al­ity, age, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der iden­tify or other char­ac­ter­is­tic.”

MLB Vice Pres­i­dent Paul Mis­fud said Mon­day the new rules re­sulted partly “in light of so­cial me­dia, which in our view sort of un­for­tu­nately pub­li­cized a lot of the dress­ing up of the play­ers ... those kind of things which in our view were in­sen­si­tive and po­ten­tially of­fen­sive to a num­ber of groups.”

“There’s lots of pic­tures of base­ball play­ers dressed up as Dis­ney princesses,” he said.

Or even more out­landish, of­ten for late-sea­son plane trips.

Bryce Harper as a mem­ber of the U.S. Olympic women’s gym­nas­tics team, Mike Trout as Lady Gaga. Manny Machado in a bal­let tutu, Car­los Cor­rea as Won­der Woman.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The haz­ing rit­ual of dress­ing rook­ies like Oak­land Ath­let­ics pitcher Brad Ziegler in 2008 as fe­male char­ac­ters is now banned un­der the base­ball’s new la­bor deal.

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