Monday, September 24, 2007

Joba Rules Oz

New York Yankees' Joba Chamberlain, left, is dressed as the lion and Ian Kennedy is Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz as they sign autographs outside Yankee Stadium after MLB baseball Monday, Sept. 24, 2007 in New York. The rookies had to dress in costumes as they left for a road trip. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
I've seen some bizarre hazing rituals, but this one is most creative.

Yankees rookies dress up in Oz costumes
NEW YORK - Joba Chamberlain raised his oversized paws, shook his shaggy brown mane and let out a feeble roar. Looking and acting every bit the Cowardly Lion, the big reliever was ready for a scrap Monday.

"Put 'em up! Put 'em up!" he said, playfully challenging Jason Giambi and Mike Mussina. No takers — they were laughing too hard at Chamberlain's head-to-toe costume.

It was rookie hazing day for the New York Yankees, and this well-worn baseball tradition came with a theme: The Wizard of Oz.

So after their 4-1 loss to Toronto, and while the movie's soundtrack played over the locker room speakers, about a dozen rooks slipped into their outfits for the bus ride to the airport and the flight to Tampa Bay.

They're off to see a playoff spot, they hoped.

"I'd rather be here dressing up than anywhere else," pitcher Ian Kennedy said, stepping into the sparkling ruby red slippers as Dorothy. "It makes you feel like one of the guys."

Phil Hughes wiggled into his shiny silver pants as the Tin Man. Shelley Duncan put on sunglasses to complement his Scarecrow get-up. Tyler Clippard flapped around with Kei Igawa as flying monkeys.

Edwar Ramirez faced a more difficult dilemma: How to shimmy into that little Wicked Witch of the West dress?

He eventually made it, then pulled on his pointy black hat and looked into a mirror. Just for confirmation, he called across the clubhouse to Derek Jeter.

"Jeet! Jeet!" the pitcher said. "Nice?"

Jeter studied the ensemble and smiled.

"Yep," he said. "Bueno."

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