I established a solid routine when working Rex Sox games during the sweltering, humid Boston summers. Dressed to impress with high-def TV makeup firmly caked on, I’d put on my backpack (filled with notes, a laptop and high heels), slip on my flip-flops and leave my apartment for the local T stop about four blocks away from my place.
I’d hop on the train and get off a few blocks from Fenway Park. By the time I would arrive inside the press box, I’d be sweating, but hiding it well of course. I would find my seat, unpack my notes and laptop, then finally, before heading down to the clubhouse (still several hours before first pitch), I would exchange my comfortable black sandals for those pesky and painful (but necessary) heels.
After the game ended and I had completed my final TV hits, I would run the same routine in reverse, feeling such relief when taking off the heels and putting on my trusty flip-flops. I would say my goodbyes to my coworkers and do a few chat-and-waves with coaches, players and stadium workers as I left Fenway for the train ride and walk home, arriving back at my apartment around midnight.
Those days are long gone now with news of Major League Baseball becoming the first major sport in North America to create a dress code for the media. Ben Walker, a baseball writer for the Associated Press, explains the basic idea with help from an MLB press release:
"The media should dress ‘in an appropriate and professional manner’ with clothing proper for a ‘business casual work environment’ when in locker rooms, dugouts, press boxes and on the field, the new MLB rules say."
Here is the MLB’s list of what not to wear:
-Sheer and see-through clothing
-Tank tops, one-shouldered or strapless shirts
-Clothing exposing bare midriffs
-Skirts, dresses or shorts cut more than 3-4 inches above the knee
These new guidelines didn’t fall out of the sky and land in Bud Selig’s lap. They were carefully constructed by, “a committee of executives and media representatives,” according to Walker. “The panel included female and Latin reporters and there was input from team trainers, who had health concerns about flip-flops in clubhouses and bare feet possibly spreading infections. Such footwear is no longer permitted.”
The AP article quotes an MLB spokesperson as saying the policy wasn’t adopted because of any one, specific incident but that baseball was aware of a situation involving the New York Jets and female TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz at a practice in 2010 (read about that incident here: http://bit.ly/sqClSF ).
It looks like the new guidelines are geared more towards women’s apparel, which, as a female reporter, raises a red flag. BUT, this dress code is absolutely reasonable and is really more of a reminder to use common sense than anything.
I’ve had plenty of reporters come up to me and say something like, “did you see what he was wearing? Cargo shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops? This isn’t the beach!” Yes, men hate on each other’s wardrobes. Who knew?
I think using the language “business casual” is the league’s way of sending a message to male media members that the dress code isn’t only for the ladies.
Just as the MLB took notice of the incident in the Jets locker room, there is no doubt the NFL, NBA and NHL will keep an eye on baseball’s new policy going forward.
"MLB said it would consider appropriate actions if the guidelines were broken," wrote Walker.
From now on, I guess I’ll have to rock sneakers and a dress before slipping on the heels. It won’t exactly be fashionable, but hey, at least my feet won’t hurt, I won’t endanger the health of professional athletes and I’ll be within the new rules of baseball. I wonder if the league will use video replay when assessing possible violations? Just a thought.
To read Ben Walker’s AP article about the MLB’s new media dress code, click here: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5heIzPhQdHGiKc3v4aFwGqokboMUA?docId=3749bb1d25eb4ce0b9849db3c830493b
Have you ever set foot in an MLB dugout? I would rather lick a city sidewalk then walk barefoot in a dugout. I’m not kidding. The dirt, water, Gatorade and sunflower seeds aren’t so bad, but puddles of brown chew spit with floating pieces of tobacco, mucus, and bits of food that only one’s dental floss should see is what really gets me.
The truth is that disgusting dugouts doesn’t even make the list of important reasons why a group of senators and health officials from St. Louis and Dallas are asking the players union to agree to toss the tins and play a tobacco-free World Series.
In April of this year the U.S. Congress held hearings on banning smokeless tobacco in Major League Baseball and even MLB commissioner Bug Selig supports the idea. With the players not on board (we’ll get to that in a minute), all that a group of senators could do was send letters to the players union urging them to consider the impact that chewing tobacco and dipping during the nationally televised World Series, which begins Wednesday, could have on millions of children.
The Associated Press obtained the letters sent by Democrat senators from Illinois, New Jersey, Connecticut and Iowa to union head Michael Weiner, which read, in part, “when players use smokeless tobacco, they endanger not only their own health, but also the health of millions of children who follow their example.”
Baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement expires in December of this year so putting the pressure on at this time is a strategic move in hopes of implementing a ban through the next CBA. In June, Weiner said the union would make an effort to address the issue in negotiations, but a few months earlier when the issue came up on Capitol Hill in April, the Major League Players Association said it discourages players from using smokeless tobacco but would not encourage a ban on the practice. David Prouty of the Players Association said at the time, “We will educate players as to why they should not use it. There is a tension here, because many players do not think they should be banned from using a product which congress has so far, deemed to be legal.”
Flawed logic my friend. Alcohol is legal, yet not allowed to be consumed on the baseball diamond (don’t feel bad for these guys, as we now know, some are drinking during the games inside the clubhouse instead of on the bench, so no biggie there). Cigarettes are also banned from stadiums, and are even outlawed from being smoked on city streets in places like Calabasas and Santa Monica, California, yet are still legal to purchase and use elsewhere. In fact, smokeless tobacco has been banned in both collegiate and minor league baseball for decades.
A few months ago, HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumble did a story on smokeless tobacco in baseball, claiming nearly one third of MLB players use it. Ike Davis of the New York Mets, who started the habit at age 16 said, “why would you want to start that? It dissent make sense.” Reporter Jon Frankel followed up asking, “so why do you keep doing it?” Davis replied, “it’s called addiction.”
Many baseball players who dip or chew will tell you it’s a disgusting habit they wish they never picked up. So why would you want to expose others to that same fate? In his piece, Frankel interviewed a dentist and professor of public health at Harvard University who studied the topic. The New England native conducted a study using the 2004 World Series featuring his hometown Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. The study found nine whole minutes worth of public use, as in, noticeably seeing tobacco on screen (chewing, spitting, bulge in the mouth, etc), and that five million children between the ages of 12 and 17 years old were watching.
While many players feel like an official ban is too much policing for their liking, I would argue that they are already policed in just about everything from daily schedules to the uniforms they wear. The AP article about the tobacco-free World Series plea says that some players are open to the ban on smokeless tobacco, which is great.
Athletes and entertainers alike often say that they shouldn’t be our children’s role models, but that we, as parents should be the ones setting examples for our kids. I agree, in large part, which is all the more reason why I think smokeless tobacco, which is a proven cause of several cancers, should be banned from major league ballparks.
As a reporter covering the Boston Red Sox, not one day went by where I didn’t see several canisters of chewing tobacco in almost every locker in the clubhouse. Those shiny tins were always the first things on the shelves to grab my attention for some reason. I wonder if the same was true for now 7-year-olds D’Angelo Ortiz and little Victor Martinez, both of whom would come to work with their daddies, David and Victor, donning little uniforms and all, nearly every single home game. I hope Cardinals and Rangers players consider their own children before scooping some dip into their mouths on Wednesday night.
For the Associated Press article with all of the details of the senators’ efforts to have a tobacco-free World Series, click here http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ivlkZ-nWu3Um7FF-xOcWDxhf91Jw?docId=833af3149044498e8e6a6d05a26974f7
To watch the Real Sports with Bryant Gumble story on tobacco in baseball , click here http://tobaccofreeaz.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/hbo-real-sports-looks-at-potential-smokeless-tobacco-ban-in-baseball/