Joe Maddon, Cubs bemoan MLB’s new hazing policies
Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs were among the zaniest MLB teams when it came to the practice of rookie hazing.
And now that the new collective bargaining agreement prohibits forcing rookies to wear anything resembling clothing for another gender, among other restrictions? The Cubs are crying foul.
In light of the new limits set on hazing (past examples of which can be seen here), Maddon, defended the team’s now-banned rituals, which featured players dressing up as cheerleaders, princesses and the like.
“I think hazing is different than what we do,” Maddon said, via ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. “It’s a team bonding experience. … It’s about stepping outside your comfort zone. Any costume can do that. There’s growth involved. If they can get past that thought, then what happens on the field can become less stressful in a sense.”
Numerous Cubs players, who themselves were once subjected to wearing ridiculous outfits, said the hazing ritual made them feel part of the team. That includes pitcher Rob Zastryzny, who donned a cheerleader outfit last season.
Other Cubs simply ripped the new policy, including catcher Miguel Montero, who called it “B.S.” Veteran pitcher John Lackey expressed his unhappiness in a broader sense.
“The whole world has gotten too soft,” Lackey said. “It can bring a team together.
“It’s not about making a kid feel bad or making fun of anyone. … I had a veteran tell me a long time ago that if they stop messing with you, they’ve stopped caring about you.”
Several Cubs players offered suggestions for ways to get around the new policy. Jake Arrieta and Justin Grimm suggested Speedos. Montero suggested wrestling tights.
Maddon, meanwhile, can only express regret that the Cubs’ rookie hazing tradition is no more, at least in its previous format.
“Our intent has never been to denigrate any particular group,” he said.
Odds are Maddon, one of the most eccentric managers ever in baseball, will figure out a way to continue the tradition in some way, shape or form.