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By Andrea Peyser
December 19, 2016
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Huston Street (not to be confused with New York City’s Houston Street) is steamed to his lacy panties. The closer can’t fathom the buzzkill political correctness that’s overtaken testosterone-fueled Major League Baseball, crushing the girlish joy out of dudes who just want to slip into all things pretty.
In an e-mail to The Associated Press, Street slammed a new MLB policy banning a tradition that’s long granted guys permission to stuff empty bras with toilet paper and doll up as curvaceous Disney cartoon princesses or scantily clad Hooters Girls.
I’m referring to Rookie Dress Up Day. It’s just been thrown onto the scrap heap of sporting history, along with cheap ballpark beer, as part of baseball’s new Anti-Hazing and Anti-Bullying Policy.
“I am not arguing for bullying because that’s not what this is,” wrote Street, 33, who donned a red wig and a sexy schoolgirl outfit as a newbie with the Oakland Athletics in 2005. “I’m not arguing for purposely offensive behavior because that’s not even close to what this is. I am arguing for a certain sense of logic, historical truth and tolerance.”
He wrote, “I believe in the rite of passage. I believe it’s team building and I believe that it can be done in a way that is sensitive but allows that team-building process to unfold.”
How could those playing my favorite pro sport be prevented from baring their stunning midriffs and (maybe) shaven legs?
The clearly lawyer-drafted policy prohibits “requiring, coercing or encouraging” players to cross-dress or wear “costumes that may be offensive to individuals based on their race, sex, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or other characteristic,” according to the AP. It was ratified by ballplayers and owners last week as part of baseball’s latest five-year collective-bargaining agreement, without objection from the players union. Big Brother is watching, and he’s in no mood for fun and games.
Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper and teammates done up in red leotards as Gabby Douglas and members of the United States women’s Olympic gymnastics team? Baltimore Orioles infielder Manny Machado in a ballet tutu? Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa as Wonder Woman? Angels center fielder Mike Trout as Lady Gaga?
An era has ended.
Oakland Athletics closer Huston Street dressed as a schoolgirl with a red wig on Sept. 11, 2005. AP
“[H]onored to be one of the last players to be dressed up as a woman,” Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling tweeted wistfully, attaching a photo of himself and other rookies done up this year in blue-and-white cheerleaders’ outfits and wielding pompons.
The ban was enacted 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,” said Paul Mifsud, an MLB vice president and general counsel.
“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,’” he said, insulting players by predicting hideous lapses of decency.
As a woman, I’m not offended by the sight of guys, some bearing facial hair, in short shorts, gowns or minidresses. In fact, wearing uniforms based on those of the defunct All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, as portrayed in the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own” — the way some New York Mets did — serves to honor female athletes.
And it’s funny.
“But rest assured, some other ritual will rise, will be kept far more secret and hopefully it’s as safe and harmless as uncomfortable clothes,” Street warned.
Not all forms of dress-up are verboten. Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard passed out gifts in a Santa Claus suit at the annual Mets Holiday Party Party for Kids at the team’s home park, Citi Field, last week. Outfielder Brandon Nimmo and infielder José Reyes — the latter suspended without pay last year under MLB’s recent anti-domestic violence policy — donned elf costumes.
Does this suggest that merry-making by one portraying a plus-size individual, and others clad as little people, not to mention Christian icons, is OK, but wearing falsies is not?
What’s next? Prohibiting players from competing in order to spare the feelings of losing (let’s call them victory-challenged) teams?
Make baseball great again. Dump this dumb rule.