How rookie hazing in baseball has changed

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How rookie hazing in baseball has changed

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 15, 2011
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Reds outfielder Chris Heisey wasn't surprised to see the schoolgirl outfit hanging in his locker, his humbling attire for the start of a late-season road trip. Welcome to the majors, rookie. "I felt it would happen," Heisey said. "As the season went on last year, I kind of heard talk that it would happen. All the rookies were talking about what we would be dressing up as." Making the rookies wear outlandish outfits for a road trip or fix a ham sandwich for a veteran is as much baseball tradition as batting practice and curtain calls, a time-honored way of reminding the newcomers where they rank in the clubhouse pecking order. While other sports struggle with the question of when rookie hazing crosses the line, it remains part of baseball's fabric -- though not nearly as outlandish as some of the stunts in other sports. "I think it's worse in football," said Colorado's Todd Helton, who played quarterback as a two-sport star at Tennessee. "When I was in college football, they shaved me bald -- the whole incoming freshman class. A bunch of big guys grabbed you and shaved your head." The Jacksonville Jaguars banned rookie hazing this year, saying it had gone too far. In recent years, rookies had been taped to goal posts, covered in baby powder, tossed in a cold tub and forced to accept ugly haircuts. The Jaguars can still hold their annual rookie talent competition and veterans are allowed to make the newcomers carry their equipment. But that's the limit. Last year, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant created a stir when he refused to carry a veteran's pads, challenging the rookie hazing tradition. In professional baseball, rookies get a much milder treatment -- no shaving, no forced haircuts, no taping to stationary objects. "I don't even know if hazing would be the proper term to use as far as baseball is concerned," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy, whose rookie indoctrination involved wearing a gaudy suit. Whatever it's called in baseball, it's changing, too. With young players taking on more prominent roles, they're getting treated more like equals in the clubhouse these days. Veterans say the latest rookie classes have been singled out far less than in the past. "Because the game seems to be getting younger and younger, a lot of that stuff has totally changed," said Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who was forced to fetch drinks for veterans during the middle of the night at team hotels when he was a Pirates rookie. "There's a lot less going on." And most welcome it. "It's changed," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "In fact, I'm kind of glad it changed. I've never been a big fan of the whole thing." Marlins infielder Wes Helms had to carry veterans' luggage onto team flights and serve them on the plane when he was a rookie. "There's definitely less than when I came up," Helms said. "Now, you don't really have anything as far as making them do anything stupid throughout the year to embarrass themselves. "It definitely has calmed down over the years. Rookies are a little different nowadays. When I came up, you didn't say a word until you had two or three years in the big leagues. Now guys come up and it's like they're already comfortable." How rookies are treated depends upon the veterans in charge. Most teams force rookies to dress in embarrassing costumes for a road trip late in the season. They might be ordered to sing or dance at the front of the team bus. "The closest thing we have is the guy with the least service time in the bullpen has to carry the backpack of candy or drinks and find out what the bullpen guys want," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We do some things at spring training just as bonding with guys, not really hazing. You give them projects or you ask them to do a report on something." Each clubhouse is different. "I think it all comes down to the people that have the power," Arroyo said. "If the older guys are reasonable and want the team to flourish, you're only going to be able to push that so far without damaging (the chances) to be a winning team. So I think it depends on who's king of the hill and whether those people are reasonable." Some if it depends upon how the rookies accept their special treatment. "If you take it the right way, it doesn't happen twice," Helton said. "Usually when a guy fights back is when the problems arise. My rookie year, I was the only rookie. When they told me to, I'd make them ham sandwiches that year. I just kept my mouth shut and did what they said." Paul Konerko of the White Sox thinks rookie hazing shouldn't make a newcomer feel uncomfortable. "I remember when I was a rookie, people made me feel uncomfortable, maybe crossed the line," said Konerko, who broke in with the Dodgers in 1997. "When that happens, when that player gets older, he says, 'I'm not going to do that because I know how it felt.' Or, 'I can't wait to do it to someone.' It's one of the two, and I think I'm the first one." A lot of players see baseball's rookie treatment as something to be appreciated. "There's a deeper history in the game of baseball and things like that," Twins reliever Matt Capps said. "You try to carry that history over. "It's a fine line. As long as you have fun and the guys that do get hazed know that it's all in fun and in the right manner, I think it's great." As soon as the rookies are done wearing those dresses, they think about sticking around long enough to see the next generation do the same. "Hopefully that continues," said Heisey, in his second season in Cincinnati. "Hopefully I can play long enough to do those fun things with the rookies at some point in time."

Hahn's excellence goes for naught as Angels walk off on A's

Hahn's excellence goes for naught as Angels walk off on A's

ANAHEIM — The night should have been about Jesse Hahn, who had every pitch working and rendered Angels hitters helpless over eight innings.

Instead, the A’s postgame comments Tuesday were filled with second-guessing and do-overs that they wish came their way in a 2-1, 11-inning defeat to the Los Angeles Angels.

The game-winner came off the bat of Kole Calhoun, who singled in Danny Espinosa from second to sink the A’s in their first extra-inning contest of the season. Ryan Madson went outside with an 0-1 fastball and Calhoun spanked it into left-center, a pitch that Madson said he never should have thrown.

“I wasn’t comfortable with that pitch,” Madson said afterward. “I should have definitely stepped off and re-thought it, so I didn’t throw it with conviction. It looked like it was off the plate but something he could handle. I learned my lesson to throw a pitch I’m convicted in.”

Calhoun swung through a changeup on Madson’s first pitch. Josh Phegley, who was behind the plate calling pitches, said he didn’t want to go right back to that pitch.

“(You) kind of obviously second-guess yourself after the game-winning hit is hit off a pitch you just called,” Phegley said. “I thought about going back to (the changeup). I saw in my head him kind of making adjustments and just looping one over the infield, getting the same result. … I thought it was a good pitch and I’ll trust that guy’s fastball any day of the year. It just was not the result we were looking for.”

Phegley was set up to be a hero himself, after he came off the bench to pinch-hit for Vogt and smacked the first pitch from Jose Alvarez in the 10th for a homer to right-center that snapped a scoreless tie. But Mike Trout — who else? — answered with a home run to lead off the bottom of the 10th off Santiago Casilla. He sliced a 2-0 pitch off the plate for a drive that cleared the short right field wall just inside the foul pole.

It was Trout’s 23rd career homer against the A’s, his most off any team.

“I don’t know anybody that hits a home run right down the right field line on a ball that looks like it’s by him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “There aren’t too many guys that are gonna do that. Maybe he and Khris Davis. It’s not like it’s a bad pitch.”

Hahn wound up with a no-decision from an outing that might have been his sharpest as an Athletic, perhaps even more so than his shutout of Detroit on Memorial Day, 2015. He allowed just one hit over eight innings, facing two batters over the minimum in that time, striking out six and walking two.

“I feel like I literally had everything working for me today,” Hahn said. “I think it might have been my best command I’ve had of all pitches.”

Hahn, who didn’t make the 25-man roster coming out of spring, is finding his groove since replacing Raul Alcantara in the rotation. In three starts he’s allowed just nine hits and four earned runs over 20 innings, for a 1.80 ERA.

“He pitched as well as we’ve seen him,” Melvin said. “He had his best sink of the year by far. His best sink in a while, and a good curve ball. He really had it working tonight.”

Unfortunately for Hahn and the A’s, his excellent start didn’t come with a ‘W’ attached.

**

Melvin said center fielder Jaff Decker felt something in his foot on a steal attempt of second in which he was thrown out easily without a slide attempt.

“He got taped up and he was OK,” Melvin said.

 

Crawford strains right groin in eighth inning of Giants' 2-1 loss to Dodgers

Crawford strains right groin in eighth inning of Giants' 2-1 loss to Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO — Brandon Crawford was always going to miss the final two games of this series to attend the funeral of his sister-in-law. The Giants are now hoping an MRI result shows that Crawford won’t miss any time beyond his three days on bereavement leave. 

Crawford pulled up with a right groin strain as he rounded first on a base hit in the eighth. After jogging a bit in the outfield, he was pulled from the game. 

“It tightened up,” Crawford said. “I haven’t really felt anything like that before. I’ve never really had anything like this before. It just felt tight. I didn’t feel a pop or anything, and from what I hear, that’s good news.”

Crawford’s liner off Kenley Jansen sent Buster Posey from first to third. Cody Bellinger's throw went into third and Crawford was busting it for second when his leg shut down. He said he could feel the pain in his groin as he tried to run it off. 

“(Trainer Dave Groeschner) told me it wasn’t a great idea to try and push it,” Crawford said. 

Ordinarily, the Giants would send Crawford for an MRI on Wednesday, but he is flying down to Los Angeles for two days of services. Crawford originally told manager Bruce Bochy that he could be back in time for Friday’s game, but the Giants — already playing without Denard Span and with a short bench — were planning to put Crawford on the bereavement list and call up an extra position player. 

Eduardo Nuñez moved over to short in the ninth and he’s Crawford’s primary backup. Christian Arroyo, called up Monday, can also play the position. The Giants have Kelby Tomlinson and Orlando Calixte on the 40-man and one of them is likely to join the team Wednesday. 

--- Arroyo and Bellinger are two of the NL West’s top prospects, and they got their first big league hits on the same night. Arroyo got a first-pitch fastball at the letters from Clayton Kershaw and roped it into left field. 

“I figured he would come at me,” Arroyo said. “I said, ‘Hey man, see a heater and take a good swing at it.’ I just envisioned getting (a big league hit) but I didn’t think it would be off a guy the caliber of Kershaw. In the moment I was excited. That’s something you don’t forget.”

Arroyo’s family won’t forget it, either. His parents and two younger siblings were here and they went nuts as Arroyo rounded first. That’s always a cool moment. 

--- Ty Blach has three big league hits and all of them are off Kershaw. 

“Sometimes you just swing hard and get lucky, I guess,” he said. 

There’s only one active pitcher who has more hits against Kershaw than Blach. That’s Madison Bumgarner, who has taken him deep twice. A year ago, Bumgarner walked into the video room and asked Matt Duffy if he wanted advice on hitting Kershaw. On Tuesday, he gave Blach some advice. 

“Madison before the game came up and said he’s going to throw you up and in because he threw it low and away last (year),” Blach said. “I was looking for a pitch in that vicinity.”

Bumgarner knows Kershaw well. Blach got a fastball up and he knocked it over a drawn-in outfield for a double. 

--- We’re 10 paragraphs into this story without a score. The Giants lost 2-1, but it’s hard to dissect this one too much. When the Dodgers get 25 outs from Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, they’re going to win that game nine out of 10 times. 

Kershaw lowered his season ERA to 2.29. The Giants gave him a little bit of trouble early, but he turned it on in the middle innings. 

“He settled in and he was as tough as he normally is,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The thing you hope is to create some chances. We had a couple.”

The eventual winning run came across on a strange play in the fourth. With runners on the corners, Adrian Gonzalez hit a bouncer to first. Posey looked Justin Turner back to third and then threw to Crawford at second for one out. Crawford spun and fired a strike home to try and get Turner, who had taken off. The throw skipped in the dirt and Nick Hundley couldn’t handle it. Turner made it 2-1, and that was that. 

Bochy said he had no problem with how that play went down. All the decisions were right, it was just a tough double-play to pull off. 

“I’d like to say I should have made a better throw but I got rid of it as fast as I could and I put as much on it as I could,” Crawford said. 

The Giants were a couple inches behind Turner on Tuesday. On Monday, they were just ahead of him, with Posey picking him off second to end the game. It’s been that type of series between these two.

--- I saw a lot of grumbling on Twitter about Yasmani Grandal pulling balls back into the strike zone in the late innings. Be careful what you wish for, Giants fans. Posey might be the best pitch-framer in the game. Any change that would keep guys like Grandal from fooling umps would hurt the Giants more than most.