CJ Nitkowski: A Little Disappointed By MLB’s New Hazing Rule

Major League Baseball and its players association agreed to and ratified a new collective bargaining agreement over the past couple of weeks that will keep the sport from labor dispute until at least 2021. That would extend the era of peace in labor negotiations within the sport to 26 years with the last strike coming in 1994.

“First of all, it’s great that they got it done. That’s an important part of this and we certainly didn’t want any work stoppages in our game,” said FOX Sports MLB analyst CJ Nitkowski on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence show. “We haven’t had any actually since my first year, I was drafted in ’94, the year of the strike. We’ve been really strong since then, which is great for the game. The game’s really healthy and I think everybody on both sides knew that was going to be a big part of this in making sure that there were no interruptions.”

 

As with any negotiated agreement between employers and their workforce, there are both good and bad rules that have been added to the new CBA.

“There’s some good, there’s some bad. I like some of the adjustments they’ve made to the qualifying offer issues when they were allowing guys to have qualifying offers in back-to-back years, multiple years,” said Nitkowski. “It’s already a tough system on a couple of guys, but to be able to do it to players two years in a row, we saw Dexter Fowler ended up not having a problem, we’ve seen some other guys like Ervin Santana in years past, where it’s kind of slowed them down and messed them up a little bit. I really like that part of it, the compensation, where they are with the luxury tax going up a little bit that’s certainly a good thing”

“Couple of the small things I didn’t love. They’re not huge deals, just kind of interesting to see baseball stepping in a little bit more on the players side of it and what they want done. Meal money going down to $30 a day is really strange. The other one, I talked about it last year, the smokeless tobacco stuff. I get it, kids shouldn’t be using tobacco, it’s awful. I don’t believe in it, I tried it when I was younger and I think it’s terrible for you and once I realized how terrible it was for me I didn’t do it anymore. I’m not a promoter of using it, but I’m also not a promoter of the game controlling it and telling players what they can and can’t do.”

One of the other new rules within the CBA is a ban on rookie hazing, in particular, a ban on having rookies dress up as women as part of their hazing. Nitkowski isn’t a fan of that rule either.

“I was a little disappointed in that one too to be honest,” said Nitkowski. I can’t pretend to know what it means to be offended as a woman, so it would be unfair for me to say yeah I find that offensive, or to tell someone you shouldn’t find that offensive. For me, I think it’s an image thing for Major League Baseball, they just want to keep the heat off of them, which I get. They want to protect their product, they don’t want to upset anybody, they don’t want to alienate any potential fan, I get all of that.”

“The thing with this, dressing up rookies and having some fun, I had to go through it a couple of times as a rookie, I got it twice, and of course as a veteran you kind of do it to your guys and it’s a fun little right of passage,” said Nitkowski. “I’m a little disappointed that Major League Baseball felt like they needed to step in right now and feel like they need to change these rules. It’s one thing if it was happening on the field in the open which of course that shouldn’t be happening. This is supposed to be private stuff in the clubhouse, on a plane, maybe as you get to a city. What’s changed is whether it’s the team’s social media account, or all the media, is that they’re taking pictures and they’re sharing it. That’s when people start getting a little bit outraged or a little bit offended. Baseball doesn’t have to have it, it’s not going to change anything, but I don’t love the idea of them coming in and telling these guys they can’t do this. It seems like harmless fun, maybe I’m missing something, but I feel like it’s harmless fun among these guys and they’re certainly not looking to offend anybody or trying to make any statement about how they feel about women or how women are perceived by them. I think it’s just in a lot of fun and that’s the idea behind it, but Major League Baseball now certainly wants to see an end to it.”

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