Is the Yankees' facial hair policy antiquated or understandable?

Winslow Townson

The Yankees can't go around tugging on each other's beards and I'm okay with that.

The amount of airtime spent on the 2013 Boston Red Sox and their quirky beards during the regular season and entire postseason was nothing short of nauseating, particularly when it seemed like announcers attributed their success to said quirky beards. Faces full of unkempt beards is not something you'd ever see on Yankees players, who have always been made to follow guidelines for their appearance. No Boston-era Johnny Damon hair or beards are allowed in pinstripes.

Maintaining standards of appearance is commonplace in many professional careers. It's not as though the Yankees are the only employers in the world who refuse to let their employees express themselves via whatever means of body hair they wish. Keep your hair above your collar and shave before the games; it's as simple as that. That kind of standard, among other things, has given the Yankees a bit of a reputation of being too uptight and stuffy. Nick Swisher sort of famously came in to save a vanilla clubhouse from being too boring. Maybe all that is true, but are the guidelines the Yankees have in place too antiquated for 2013 and beyond?

Brian Wilson of notorious beard fame has refused to play in New York because he isn't willing to part with the beard that became as much of his career lore as anything he's done on the field. To most, that's no loss. Brian Wilson will certainly not make or break the 2014 Yankees, so if he doesn't want to come to New York it's not a big deal. What if he were Mike Trout, or some other true impact player that could be a franchise-changing move? Would the Yankees really let that slip away for guidelines created by an owner who has been gone for years? Perhaps they would in favor of holding tight to tradition. The Yankees are going to look professional and you can check your unwieldy facial hair at the door. Darnell McDonald came to New York, had to cut off his dreadlocks that he'd been working on for quite some time, and then was released in short order. Johnny Damon cleaned himself up after looking the part of Jesus while in Boston when the Yankees gave him the most money to play the game. It seems unlikely that they would suddenly throw those standards out for a particular player to keep their beard.

There shouldn't be anything wrong with wanting the Yankees to look professional when they step on the field. It's debatable whether or not long hair and beards prevents a player from looking professional, but there are certainly limits. Unbuttoned jerseys and beards that small children could hide themselves and all their possessions in exceeds that limit, in my estimation. Maybe the no facial hair policy is too stuffy and antiquated, but it is a way to prevent "expression" that hinders an image. The Red Sox didn't gain their power from hair growing out of their chins anymore than you can gain the ability to fly by strapping feathers onto your arms. They were a powerhouse offense that clicked, make no mistake.

Most players seem to be smart enough to figure out that going to the highest bidder is smarter than being attached to hair that will regrow in time. It's unlikely that a game-changing free agent would be so concerned with their beard or long hair that they'd turn down a team offering them the most money. Maybe if the money is equal and they feel like they can only be themselves through whatever hair is on their body they go to the team that lets them be their own unique snowflake. Most would likely go the Johnny Damon route and clean up in order to receive the biggest paycheck possible.

The Yankees may be like your nagging parents or grandparents who think you should clean yourself up before you go out in public, but that is true of many employers who want the people that represent their company to look professional as the faces of their brand. In this case, the Yankees are no different. Maybe that's antiquated to some extent, but it's also understandable. Can you imagine for one second the Yankees showing up looking like the Red Sox of 2013? It seems almost unfathomable. There is likely a way to find some happy medium between clean cut and vanilla and unkempt and grungy-looking. Maybe at some point in the future the owners of the Yankees try to strike that balance. In the mean time, the Yankees will have their jerseys buttoned and won't be tugging on each other's beards in the dugout and I'm pretty happy that that's true.

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