Blue Jays broadcaster talks about hazing in MLB, says younger players need it to stay tough
Hazing, juvenile as it may be, has been a part of sports for a long time. Most people would seem to be firmly against it, judging from the reaction to the Richie Incognito scandal of a couple of years ago, but there will always be those who believe it has its place in the game, that it toughens up younger players.
"I’ll never forget it: I was out in the stretch circle, I played catch with Chris Hoiles every single day, and I lobbed the ball to him — and he was paying attention, but he pretended like he wasn’t. He head-butted the ball and all of a sudden I had what was called “the posse” all over me. Cal Ripken, Ben McDonald, Brady Anderson, Chris Hoiles, all of the above. They beat me on my ribcage, physically abused me on my way to the training table. They taped me spread-eagle to the training table, they wrote “rookie” on my forehead with pink methylate, and they shoved a bucket of ice down my shorts. I missed the entire batting practice, and you know what? Phil Regan, the manager of the Baltimore Orioles, he did not care, because he knew that what those guys were doing was ‘educating me.”"
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Zaun had more cringeworthy hazing stories to tell, some of which make Cal Ripken Jr. sound a bit like Richie Incognito.
But, surprisingly enough, Zaun isn’t telling these stories as a cautionary tale, or even to talk about what jerks his teammates were.
No, Zaun is in favor of the hazing. On the subject of former Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie, Zaun essentially said that what Lawrie needed to become more mature and get his career on track was some good ol’ fashioned hazing.
"So, these kind of things don’t happen anymore, but they need to happen more often. And they need to happen with the backing of the management, all the way up to the front office, down to the field manager. You have to allow your veteran players to create the atmosphere that they want in the clubhouse, because at the end of the day, when guys get along and they know their pecking order, and they know the hierarchy, everything seems to work out just fine."
There’s just so much wrong with that.
I have never been an MLB player, but I can’t think of a profession in the world where these kinds of things “need to happen more often,” as Zaun says. Yes, baseball is a sport that requires its players to have a certain toughness. It does not, however, require them to deal with this kind of nonsense. What Zaun and anyone who feels this way need to remember is that an MLB locker room is a workplace, just like any other. Obviously playing a sport for a living is different from working in an office, and there are different things to be expected by its players. However, it is not different enough to make any of hazing like this OK.
It’s baseball, not the Army; hazing your teammates isn’t going to make your teammates better at the game, and it shouldn’t be tolerated. Hopefully there aren’t too many current MLBers who still feel this way.
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