Look, we’ve all got pleasant memories about being ridiculed while playing group sports. In Major League Baseball, it’s not just an occurrence, it’s a tradition. So here are some of the examples we saw in 2011 of teams making their rookies feel ridiculous/victimized/objectified.
There is a lot of power and infamy in the Papa Smurf role. The guy was a teenager a few years ago, and they really expect Strasburg to take on the social ethics and community responsibility? Continuously impregnating Smurfette to keep the Nationals’ farm system fertile and alive? And where do they assign Bryce Harper next season, as if he’ll take anything other than “SUPREME OVERLORD OF THE SMURFS,” with an “infallibility clause” written into his contract under the paragraph demanding a personal make up artist to apply his eye black?
GRADE: A for group theme but C- for not thinking about the future
What I’m looking for here is a sense of the collective, and between the slutty cops, Mario Bros., Angry Birds, and wood nymphs, I’m failing to make a connection. This free-for-all attitude goes against the Rube Goldberg-style strategizing of Joe Maddon, who I would honestly expect more from. Where’s the quirky-but-for-a-reason mentality that keeps the Rays a solid third place AL East team? Honestly, forcing their rookies to dress as parts of an actual Rube Goldberg machine would have been less surprising–and Maddon I could see calling the press in to take pictures while the rookies try to figure out what order they need to stand in to make the mechanism function properly.
All this would be occurring as Maddon stands in the corner, his laughter so uproarious that it makes up for everyone else’s confused silence.
GRADE: B- because I’m really starting to dig that idea I just said, despite it being impossible
The Snakes went with a group theme as well, but the theme was “Oh Shit I Forgot We Need to Haze the Rookies Somebody Run to the Mall Real Quick.” These aren’t costumes so much as they are wrongly-personed swimsuits, which is fine, it just doesn’t seem like the effort is there.
I mean I realize they’re an NL West team, so the effort never really has to be there, but couldn’t they follow the example of one of the more adept teams? I don’t want this to spiral into a Moneyball situation but with slutty costumes for men–I’m just saying the Yankees tend to have nicer examples and that other, poorer teams may need to come up with some revolutionary new system in order to compete with them.
GRADE: C for effort
Mike Trout stepped into the parking lot and adjusted his dress.
“All that hard work,” he thought. “All that dedication and training, all of it led up this moment.”
Ignoring the giggles of the employees lurking behind some cars, Trout went to greet his admirers, all of whom had their cameras at the ready to make light of his public spectacle. Suddenly, a strong gust of wind brutalized the lot and Trout stumbled backwards, his body unfamiliar with the tight squeeze of his outfit and loose grip on his morals.
“I was speechless,” Trout had said in an interview after his Major League debut in July. “It was one of those moments… once in a lifetime. Dream come true. I’m just thrilled.”
He looked down. The wind had shifted the dress, revealing one of his impossibly athletic nipples. And the cameras started clicking.
GRADE: A+ for hawwwww yeah
What we need is a picture of furious/emotionally destroyed rookies in costumes. Too many of these guys are enjoying themselves, or even embracing the moment, as if it is a form of acceptance or a rite of passage and not merciless antagonism from their betters.
Sadly, the Blue Jays do not supply this notion either. They have a mixed bag of classics–the yellow chicken, the guy in a diaper… and all the rest. And they’re more than happy to take part.
I don’t really think a rookie’s costume should be considered “hazing” unless they either need help or have no clue as to how to put it on. The chicken suit is most likely self-explanatory, but the dress in the middle looks like it may have raised a few question marks. They need something that a rookie can look at and be like, “How does this fit over a human body?” Even if it’s just for one of the few–give the two guys on the right and left something that resembles clothes, but then give the guy in the middle a folding chair. Then we get a peak at his creativity, as he stumbles into the parking lot, taking tiny, shuffling steps somehow adorned in a piece of furniture.
GRADE: C …there’s always next year.