As we’ve reported in the past, MLB is set to sign and ratify a new CBA today, and while there are quite a few major new provisions, details of some of the smaller ones are still coming out. One of those minor changes is actually a major change in disguise and one that’s long overdue.
The policy, obtained by The Associated Press, prohibits “requiring, coercing or encouraging” players from “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.”
This is great news indeed. No longer is the tired practice of dressing up a player in classically female clothing with the intended effect of humiliating the player acceptable. No more dressing up as Disney Princesses while the team gathers to point and laugh. Fantastic news! Great job MLB. Finally my sport is beginning to step into a new era and working on stamping out prejudicial behavior! Tell me, why is it in 2016 that you’ve finally decided to stomp out this outdated, misogynistic practice?
MLB Vice President Paul Mifsud said Monday the new rules resulted partly “in light of social media, which in our view sort of unfortunately publicized a lot of the dressing up of the players … those kind of things which in our view were insensitive and potentially offensive to a number of groups.”
Oh. So you aren’t really taking a stand against this thing, you just don’t want to take the chance that people might see it. Now you are starting to sound like the NFL and Congress. More concerned with appearances and image than doing what’s right. Sigh.
“Although it hasn’t happened, you could sort of see how like someone might even dress up in black face and say, ‘Oh, no, we were just dressing up,'” Mifsud said. “We’ve also understood that a number of players have complained about it.”
Oh dear. Just. Please. No.
As expected there are several former
neanderthals players who are somehow offended by the new policy.
“Seriously?!” former Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis wrote on Twitter. “Had to wear a Hooters outfit going through customs in Toronto and wore it proudly (because) I was in the Show.”
Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling tweeted a photo of the right-hander and teammates sporting cheerleading uniforms, saying “honored to be one of the last players ever to be dressed up as a woman.”
Of course, not always is dressing up in costume offensive. Intent, meaning and context is always a mitigating key factor. Sometimes people dress up as a measure of honoring them:
Last September, the New York Mets posted photos and video of players going to Starbucks in Philadelphia wearing uniforms from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, as portrayed in the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own.” Several other teams engaged in similar behavior.
However, the new policy will not allow for such wiggle room and distinctions. No exceptions.
The new policy states “a player’s actual or perceived willingness to participate in prohibited conduct does not excuse the activity from being considered a violation of the policy.”
I applaud MLB’s attention on this issue. I wish they had publicized it a little more, but they are moving in the right direction. Forcing players to dress up in classically female attire for mocking and humiliation is pathetic and tired. In fact any player of authority or seniority forcing another to do ANYTHING for humiliation is pathetic and tired. I just wish MLB made the changes because it was the right thing to do. Not because they were afraid of bad publicity. But I suppose at long as we are moving in the right direction, motivations are inconsequential. In 5, 10, 20 years, no one will remember or care why players can’t dress up as Raggedy Ann for the bemusement of others. They will just not be doing it anymore.
Now if we could only get MLB to follow their advice and finally rename the Cleveland Indians to something a tad less racist. That would be true progress. Or do they not care because not enough people on Twitter are offended yet?