Everyone knows there is no crying in baseball, but apparently now there are no dresses either. With this development, players both past and present aren’t happy, and you can thank a double-dose of political correctness for making sure fun and frivolity has struck out in Mudville.
To explain, Major League Baseball and the Players Association recently agreed to a new five-year collective bargaining agreement to decide how to slice up the billions of dollars generated by Major League Baseball. Now, however, players have finally read the agreement’s fine print and many don’t like what they see.
Major League Baseball has outlawed bullying and hazing, saying: “Players may not engage in a pattern of verbal or physical conduct that is designed to demean, disgrace or cause mental or physical harm to a member of his club.” Specifically, it has gone after a tradition on many clubs where rookies, usually just once, are made to dress up in funny costumes. Those days are no more, now that MLB has banned “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.”
Once this information got out many in the baseball world weren’t happy, such as former Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis who saw a fun rite of passage ending and tweeted, “Had to wear a Hooters outfit going through customs in Toronto and wore it proudly (because) I was in the Show.”
Does Major League Baseball have a bullying problem? In the old days of professional baseball before players made millions, veterans not eager to lose their jobs to a newbie would do things like not allow rookies to take batting practice, so they couldn’t sharpen their skills. Those days are long gone, and what passes as bullying these days is usually quite mild and involves things like hiding a rookie’s shoes after a game, so he has to wear his shower shoes on the team’s charter, or making all the rookies dress up one day as they get on the bus to catch the charter. Hardly the stuff to scar you for the rest of your life.
Don’t mistake me, I’m not pro-bullying or necessarily believe hazing is wise, but these are not schoolchildren we are talking about. These are grown men, alpha males who have risen to the top of their profession. If a player can’t take having to dress up in a silly costume one night of his life without becoming a mental basket case, would you really trust him to have the mental makeup to take the field on Game 7 of the World Series when being able to perform under pressure is critical?
Part of what is at work here is our national obsession with giving everyone a safe space, making sure everyone feels good about themselves at all times. We have become a nation of worrywarts and snowflakes. If you don’t like the election results and can’t adjust, get your free psychotherapy courtesy of Mayor de Blasio.
But have we ever considered perhaps mild hazing may do a person good? Being the butt of the joke every once in a while and learning to laugh at oneself may teach humility and toughen you up a bit and help you deal with some of life’s future challenges.
What makes this story such an interesting sociological study is there is more to it than meets the eye. At first brush this looks like an attempt by baseball to eradicate bullying, but when you look more closely you get the sense that Major League Baseball is terrified to have any of its players put on a dress and be seen in public. My guess is that MLB is worried that the grievance community would construe this as big leaguers making fun of cross dressers and transsexuals. After all, 2016 was the year of the gender confused, from Caitlyn Jenner to the end of public restrooms based on gender. Major League Baseball doesn’t want to be seen on the wrong side of political correctness. All of which raises the question: was Major League Baseball itself bullied into making these changes out of fear of protests and complaints from the politically correct set?
One can only imagine the future of sporting events. No more men’s or women’s restrooms for the fans, just one restroom that will accommodate all, and please no cheering or booing the players as it might harm their psyche irredeemably.