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."

NHL Notes: Boston University ready for historic night at NHL Draft

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NHL Notes: Boston University ready for historic night at NHL Draft

BUFFALO – There will be plenty of wide, toothy grins at the First Niagara Center on Friday night as the NHL conducts the first round of their entry draft, but no smile will be bigger than that of Boston University head coach David Quinn.

That’s because the Terriers head coach will, according to just about every NHL draftnik, see four of his players from next year’s hockey team get selected among the top-30 players drafted up on Friday night. Clayton Keller, Kieffer Bellows and Dante Fabbro are all incoming freshman recruits for next season expected to go in the top half of the first round, and defenseman Charlie McAvoy is coming off an outstanding first season for the Scarlet and White.

It would be only the second time in NCAA hockey history that four kids from the same college program have been first round picks in the same draft: the other was Minnesota ten years ago or when four Golden Gophers were nabbed in the first round, Erik Johnson (No. 1), Phil Kessel (No. 5), Kyle Okposo (No. 7), and David Fischer (No. 20).

So clearly it’s something that has Quinn excited at the prospects for BU next season, and continuing the impressive flow of hockey talent through the program after Jack Eichel’s departure following one brilliant freshman season.

“It’s fun watching these kids achieve their dreams and goals, and in the last 10 years the draft has really taken on an even greater significance to all these kids,” said Quinn. “We’re very fortunate at BU that we’ve got a school that supports our program, we’ve got a long and rich tradition and we’ve got very talented kids that are attracted to that.

“All of the stars have aligned here this year where we could have a lot of kids taken in the first round, so it’s fun to watch kids that you’ve built relationships with go ahead and achieve their goals. It’s a rare thing. It’s a testament to the work that Steve Greeley, Albie O’Connell and Scott Young have done. If you think about this class, these guys are from all over. Dante Fabbro is from Vancouver, and Clayton Keller is from St. Louis. Kieffer Bellows is from Minnesota, and Charlie McAvoy is from Long Island. It’s not like these guys all grew up in Massachusetts. [The recruiters] have done a phenomenal job of finding talent, and then doing a great job recruiting them. It speaks volumes to the work those guys have done.”

So Quinn, assistant coaches Albie O’Connell and Scott Young each deserve a healthy slice of the credit for keeping together the impressive class of talent, and former BU assistant coach Steve Greeley deserves just as much credit for his recruiting legwork prior to getting hired as the Assistant Director of Player Personnel for the New York Rangers.

With the Blueshirts not making a selection until the 81st pick, Greeley joked that “he'll be the guy at the New York Rangers table who has to be restrained from standing and clapping for those guys when they get picked by other teams.” He was joking, of course, but it speaks to the considerable investment of time and energy in recruiting an elite group of players, and then watching it all culminate on the draft floor before they take the ice at Agganis Arena this fall.

It also speaks to what Boston University has cooking on Commonwealth Ave. where they’re building a powerhouse program that could threaten for a national championship this season. That’s a level of expectation that Quinn welcomes along with the wealth of talented players.

“I think it will be an easier year of hockey for [the incoming players] because there’s so much pressure during your draft year,” said Quinn. “Whether or you’re playing college hockey, or the US National Program or in juniors, these kids are under the microscope. I watched Jack [Eichel] go through it last year, and I watched Charlie McAvoy go through it this year. It’s human nature at their age that you want to impress, and that can sometimes get in the way of doing things that you’re supposed to be doing.

“But we always have high expectations at BU, and we’ve always been fortunate to have great players here. The challenge we’re going to face is what every team faces. We’re going to have enough talent, but there are about seven or eight other characteristics you need if you’re going to win championships. We talk about it every year here: work ethic, leadership, camaraderie, mental toughness, perseverance, how you handle adversity…all of those things go into whether you win or lose, and whether you win championships or not.”

So here are a few thoughts from Quinn on each of the Big Four, including D-men in Fabbro and McAvoy that have attracted the eyes of the Bruins in a very big way:

*The creative and skilled playmaking center Clayton Keller, who lists Patrick Kane as the player he models his game after: “He’s very dynamic. He’s a guy that can really create offense off the initial rush. When he has the puck, good things always happen. He’s got elite vision, elite skill set and he’s competitive. He’s a guy that obviously needs to get a little bigger and stronger, but he’s got a swagger about him. All great players have a swagger. I know he elevates everybody’s game when he’s out there, and he’s a special talent.”

*The deadly sniper Kieffer Bellows, who hopes to follow in his father Brian’s footsteps at the NHL level someday: “When everybody talks about Kieffer they talk about his shot and his goal-scoring ability, and rightfully so. He’s got an NHL shot right now. He’s a true goal-scorer that likes to get the net, and knows where he wants to go. Not only does he know where to go, but he knows how to take advantage of his opportunities. But the thing that I really like about Kieffer is that he’s continued to improve as a player, and he’s much more than a shooter. He’s a guy that sees the ice well, and he’s smart. Sometimes when you’re really good at one thing people kind of think you’re a one-trick pony. There are a lot of other elements in his game to like. His skating continues to improve, he’s competitive and tough…and scoring goals isn’t easy in this day and age. Sometimes he makes it look easy.”

*The steady, heady Dante Fabbro, who plays in all situations and is extremely adept at moving the puck: “He’s a guy that can really control a game. He’s got a patience about him, and he’s got a confidence about him. He’s very competitive, and he doesn’t waste a lot of energy. He’s a great power play player. He makes great outlet passes, and has a real mature game already at his age. I really think the sky is the limit for him.”

*The speedy Charlie McAvoy, who was arguably BU’s best defenseman last season as the youngest player in college hockey: “The thing that impressed me the most is how he handled the physical aspect of college hockey. He was the youngest kid in college hockey and played half the season as a 17-year-old going up against 22, 23 and 24-year old kids. A lot of kids come into college hockey and have good seasons statistically, but can get physically overwhelmed at that level. That didn’t happen with Charlie at all. A lot of times he’d go in one-on-one with guys six or seven years older than him, and he’d win the battle. That says an awful lot about him as a player. You add that to his skating ability, his vision and his hockey sense, and he’s put himself in position to be a top-10 draft pick.”

Remember, keep shooting the puck at the net and good things are bound to happen.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Report: Red Sox have inquired about trades for Braves’ pitchers

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Report: Red Sox have inquired about trades for Braves’ pitchers

While the Red Sox have inquired about both Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino from the Atlanta Braves, ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported, although Braves GM John Coppolella said he doesn’t see them trading Teheran.

In a Twitter chat with fans, Coppolella didn’t said he didn’t see the Braves parting with Teheran.

On MLB Network Radio, Bowden, a former major league GM, said Atlanta is interested Red Sox top prospects Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi, who naturally Boston would be very reluctant to part with.  

Teheran, a right-handed starter, is 3-7 but with a 2.66 ERA and Vizcaino, a right-handed reliever, is 1-2 with a 2.01 ERA  and 44 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings for the Braves, who are in last place in the National League East. 

 

Friday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Brentz starts in LF

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Friday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Brentz starts in LF

It won’t take long for Bryce Brentz to get used to the major leagues again. Called up Friday after Chris Young was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, Brentz gets the start in left field as the Red Sox open a three-game series tonight against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas (8:05 p.m.). 

Brentz, 27, who was hitting .278 with three homers and 17 RBI at Pawtucket, will make his first major league appearance since 2014 and bat seventh against Texas left-hander Nick Martinez (1-1, 5.14 ERA).  David Price starts (8-4, 4.24) starts for Boston. 

The lineups:

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Bryce Brentz LF
Travis Shaw 3B
Christian Vazquez C

David Price LHP

RANGERS
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Ian Desmond CF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Ryan Rua LF
Prince Fielder DH
Elvis Andrus SS
Roughned Odor 2B
Jurickson Profar 1B
Bobby Wilson C

Nick Martinez LHP