Every year, just about every team in baseball has a hazing ceremony for their rookies. The most common form of hazing is making the rookies wear outlandish costumes on the team flight. It's a fairly recent tradition, I think, but it's spread so quickly because it's so danged funny.
Usually, though, these events are relayed to the public through short blurbs from the beat writers. We have to just wonder how silly everyone looks for a few moments, and then we go back to our boring lives.
But someone convinced the Rays' rookies to stand for a group photo:
image from the "official unofficial" Twitter feed of the Rays, via DRaysBay
This is a tremendous sociological find. Because while you might think all of these costumes are assigned at random, they have very specific meanings. The players who are wearing these costumes are wearing them for a reason.
Here, then, is what it means to have your specific costume assigned to you.
a. You never stop screwing around with that iPad. The rest of us will be playing dominoes or having a team meeting, and you're poking at that stupid thing. If we need you to review a scouting report or something, we'll make sure to put it underneath a ramshackle structure with pigs standing on it.
b. You'll do your best work for the Rays, and you won't make a lot of money. This is like Thomas Lennon when he was with The State or Reno: 911. Later, you'll get some huge contract from another team, like the Red Sox, and you won't do your best work, like Thomas Lennon when he wrote Taxi. This is how the world works, and it's best that you learn this now. Welcome to the Rays.
c. You two went through Kyle Farnsworth's locker. We actually had a Pokemon thing for you, and a mermaid costume for you ... but you guys can keep those on. They'll do fine, I guess. I'm not saying that Farnsworth wears those outfits -- he just came into the hotel lobby one night with those clothes in his hand, mumbling something about a sidekick. He put an ad on Craigslist for a sidekick. He managed to misspell "karate chop." You should probably put those clothes back, actually.
d. You are of Latin descent. What's your name? Cesar Ramos? Uh, yeah, put on the sombrero.
e. You ... look, we don't really know you. You just got called up. We don't even know what this costume is. Some pregnant woodland fairy? Just put it on. We don't mean anything by it, honest. We heard about your time in the Cubs system. We're sorry. Look, this will all be over soon.
f. You were actually supposed to be Luigi or Mario, but then we thought because you're something like ten years old, that wouldn't be sufficiently hazing-worthy. But by the way you are holding up your fake breasts in every picture, we realized you're probably closer to 13 or 14, and now we're wondering if this wasn't a good way to haze you either.
g. You talked about how cool it was to eat mushrooms and sync up "Dark Side of the Moon" and The Wizard one too many times. Besides, you're supposed to do that with The Wizard of Oz, not The Wizard, you moron.
i. You are Sam Fuld, and you creep everyone out. The team needed to include you somehow so you didn't stab someone after feeling neglected, but they couldn't put you in some French maid's outfit because you could stab someone after feeling humiliated. You sort of just sit in one corner of the clubhouse, obsessively updating and footnoting your own Wikipedia entry, making a weird guttural gurgle whenever someone touches your stuff. Just wear the Mr. Potato Head costume and don't murder us. Please.
j. You are Sam Fuld's closest friend on the team. Shut up and listen to me. You need to get out of here. You have been bestowed a great honor! There is a black Land Rover with the motor running outside. Everyone fought for the right to be Mrs. Potato Head, but you have won out! The driver's name is Brian. Give him this note and $100. You are the queen of our potato kingdom, as decreed by Mr. Potato Head! rundammitthereisnotmuchtimegetoutofhere
k. Remember that time when we played Truth or Dare on the bus to Durham? And you chose "truth", and the question was "If you were a piece of cake, what celebrity would you want to eat you?", and you answered "Tom Petty?" Remember that? That was a really weird answer.
l. You are a professional athlete, and for reasons that are completely in the spirit of team-building, we have chosen a costume for you that is normally reserved for attractive females. Isn't this hilarious and normal? We think this is funny because it satirizes societal constructs and norms, not because we are all grown men here who leave our wives to travel with other grown men for most of the year, sitting next to each other, sharing dinners, jokes, and stories, sleeping in the same hotel, changing together, showering together, patting each other on the bottom when we do good things -- no, no. This is not a natural-yet-uncomfortable outgrowth of that. Not at all. It satirizes societal constructs. It's the humor of the unexpected!
Now put on those stockings.