Andrew Theodorakis/Andrew Theodorakis
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says he thinks that there are some Richie Incognito-type situations in baseball as well.
STAMFORD, Conn. – Could Major League Baseball have its own Richie Incognito?
Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman says his sport is not immune to the kind of alleged bullying scandal that has engulfed the NFL’s Miami Dolphins this season.
“I would say baseball does have those incidents like Miami’s incident,” Cashman said Monday evening before making a speech about civility in baseball at the Ferguson Library here. “Baseball is no different than any other walk of life.
“It all goes on, unfortunately, in our world. Every aspect they’re experiencing, we’ve experienced. I can’t sit there and represent that that’s not occurring in our sport.”
Asked if he had ever dealt with a specific example, Cashman immediately recalled a situation with Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez in 1998. Hernandez was angry when Yankee veterans wanted him to participate in the team’s annual rookie dress-up.
Hernandez was already in his thirties when he came to the majors from Cuba and most rookies are much younger men. He fumed on a team charter flight.
Then-manager Joe Torre found Cashman and told the GM, ‘Hey, you have to talk to Duq, he’s upset,'” Cashman recalled.
“He’s coming from Cuba and a whole different culture and life experience that no one could even comprehend. The rookies all get dressed up. It’s a rookie-hazing situation and it’s kind of an indoctrination, whether it’s right or wrong. I went back (to talk to Hernandez) and said, ‘This is what they do. Even though you’re older, you’re still a rookie. It’s just kind of a welcome to the team. They dress them up in funny outfits, different themes each year.’
Wilfredo Lee/ASSOCIATED PRESS
The saga of Richie Incognito (l.) and Jonathan Martin gets plenty of attention, but the sports world is ‘no different from other walks of life,’ says Cashman.
“He said to me, ‘I was a clown for (Fidel) Castro for 31 years; I’m not going to be a clown for anyone else, ever again.’ He was very upset.
“So it happens.”
Cashman said he did not recall whether Hernandez dressed up or not. Yankee rookies still dress up every year. Last season’s theme was pop stars. Catcher J.R. Murphy dressed as Justin Bieber.
Cashman said his sport – and his team – should try to learn from what is going on with the Dolphins.
“I don’t want that happening here,” he said. “If that is going on here, we need to deal with that now and get ahead of it.”
Cashman opined that hazing is “occurring in high school, colleges, all pro sports and whether you’re in the theater group or on the varsity baseball team at the local high school. Unfortunate circumstances can occur.
“There’s no place in society for it, but it’s an example for all of us to kind of pay attention and say, ‘Hey, is this going on here?’ And ask those questions to make sure it’s not and if it is, you get ahead of it and stop it.”
Cashman’s talk is part of a series on civility in America and he noted beforehand that there are small examples of civility in baseball, such as the pre-game handshake between managers. There are also examples of the opposite, he said, in the stands, on the field, or with the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Asked where Alex Rodriguez fit in with baseball and civility, Cashman demurred: “Well, to avoid a front page (story), I’m going to avoid answering that specifically. Listen, he’s been suspended and he’s appealing the process. He deserves that process to play out. I don’t think anybody of us involved in the process want to continue to allow it to unnecessarily play out publicly. Let’s let the arbitrator make his decision.”