|They're off to see a playoff spot: Yanks rookies put on Wizard of Oz costumes for trip|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 24 September 2007 14:10|
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.''
There was Mayor Munchkin, a couple of Lollypop Kids and palace guards with spears, too. Most everyone except the Wizard.
Jorge Posada snapped pictures as the rookies gathered on the ``NY'' insignia in the middle of the clubhouse carpet for a group photo. Later, the rooks walked outside to greet fans and sign autographs.
``Who's Chase Wright dressed as?'' asked Chamberlain's father, Harlan. ``Oh, he's the Good Witch.''
Last week, the Boston Red Sox took their turn, with Daisuke Matsuzaka the main attraction as a Teletubby.
Teams have done this for years, making their rookies look like clowns, cheerleaders and most anything else for the final road trip. Last year, the Yankees dressed up their guys as George Steinbrenner. This time, the clubhouse attendants and some of the veterans picked the outfits.
``These are pretty good,'' Mussina said. ``You take these, go walk around Broadway and people would ask, 'Where's the Wizard of Oz playing?'''
It doesn't always work out well. Jeff Kent got a reputation as a spoilsport in the early 1990s when he didn't play along with the New York Mets' prank. Sometimes, players from outside the U.S. culture misinterpret the meaning, thinking it's mean spirited rather than a way to bond.
``I would say it if I didn't think it was right,'' Kennedy said, trying on his brown wig. ``I think it's funny. But it's kind of hard when you're Dorothy. I think I got the short end of the stick.''
``Joba, I think he looks like the lion,'' he said.
Kennedy said he'd seen the 1939 film only a few times. He admitted he'd never look at the movie the same way again.
``At least it'll be a good memory,'' he said.
Same for Wright. A tattoo on his left shoulder and a glint in his eye, he slinked into a long pink dress and put on a blonde wig as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North.
``I think this is the No. 1 costume, right here,'' Wright said.
Chamberlain seemed to agree. As Wright walked past, the popular setup man laughed out loud.
``Hey, can I get your number?'' he said.