When Don Mattingly took over as Marlins’ manager in 2016, he instituted a no facial hair policy, similar to the one the Yankees’ have in place. Pitchers and catchers reported for all major league teams earlier this week. After just one year of the policy being in place, Mattingly announced that the facial hair ban has been lifted.
Mattingly has grown tired of fighting his players on this and realized it’s not a big deal and accepted the time he is living in. Beards are okay now. They’re a fashion statement to some and a way of expressing themselves to others. While the Marlins haven’t completely gotten rid of the rule, they did tweak it so players could grow beards.
As long as the players keep them trimmed, they are once again allowed to sport facial hair. It's a change from a year ago, when a stricter policy was in place.
"We talked about just keeping it groomed and being professional," manager Don Mattingly said.
While nobody wants the Yankees to turn into the 2013 Red Sox (gross), there’s absolutely no reason the Yankees can’t do the same. The rule was put in place for the Yankees by George Steinbrenner in the seventies, but in 2017 the rule is outdated and just has no place.
Yes, I myself have a beard and almost always refuse to go beardless. Shaving is annoying, and to have to do that constantly would frustrate me to no end. I do keep it groomed and trimmed, but at least this way I don’t have to tend to my face every three days when I have bigger problems.
Just take a look at how many Yankees’ players grow facial hair in the offseason. Gary Sanchez, as shown in the main picture of this article, grows facial hair. CC Sabathia grows a beard in the offseason and Dellin Betances has also shied away from the razor (and bartends apparently?) in the offseason.
They’re not the only ones, many Yankees grow beards as soon as they are traded away. Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, and Ivan Nova all grew beards last year as soon as they could. Brian McCann had a beard when he was with the Braves, shaved it when he signed with the Yankees, but as soon as he had a chance to, McCann grew his beard back now that he’s with the Astros. Robinson Cano and David Robertson, both of whom signed with different teams, both also keep a beard from time to time.
The point is that players are people, and people should be free to choose what they do with their face. I understand the Yankees want to keep their players professional, but they can still do that while giving their players a little bit of freedom. Part of the Marlins’ reasoning for changing their rule was because there was too much backlash from players.
"It was a constant fight last year, honestly, with guys," Mattingly said.
"Just watching the playoffs, for me, World Series, it just didn't seem like that big a deal," Mattingly said. "The most important thing is our guys prepare, play the game right. We're not really worried about that."
Andrew Cashner, who was traded to the Marlins last year, publicly expressed his displeasure with the rule. He said it would be a “big deal” to him in free agency, and ultimately ended up with the Rangers (not that the policy was the reason why). For the most part, I do believe that if the right offer and amount of money was in hand, players wouldn’t spurn the Yankees. That’s not always going to stand true though, and yes I’m talking about Bryce Harper.
When Harper hits free agency, he’ll be one of the most sought after free agents to hit the market, and will almost assuredly break records with the deal he’ll sign. He’s the type of free agent almost every team will try and pursue. He also likes to have a beard. With many different suitors vying for his services, the Yankees shouldn’t put themselves at a disadvantage from the get go. Speaking as a person who hates being clean shaven, if two offers were pretty much identical and offered the same opportunities, I’d definitely go somewhere I can be more comfortable.
There are also potential racial implications of this policy. Back in 1993, a Federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled that Domino’s would have to waive their own facial hair ban for black employees. Pseudofolliculitis barbae, PFB, is a common skin condition that predominantly affects black men. It can cause severe irritation of the skin after shaving and one of the ways men tend to avoid that is by not shaving. The organization could be more inviting to black players if they were to cut back on the rules.
It’s not just facial hair though. The Yankees also have a rule about the length a player’s hair can be; players’ hair can’t go past their shoulders. Don Mattingly himself had a run in with George Steinbrenner about his hair in 1991. Top prospect Clint Frazier has had to cut his magnificent hair and get it within policy. In 2012, the Yankees picked up Darnell McDonald in the middle of the season, who then had to cut his dreadlocks, and released him just a few days later. That was just plain cruel. At least the Yankees’ hair policy is not as extreme as their facial hair rule. The shoulder length rule allows players to keep it a bit long while maintaining a “professional” look.
A complete beard ban, however, just doesn’t make sense anymore, no matter how you cut it. People can have beards and still maintain a professional look. It happens everyday in corporate America, and it’s time the Yankees get with the times.