It's Time for the New York Yankees to Modernize Their Facial Hair Policy
The New York Yankees have always had one slightly unconventional policy that has set them apart from the rest of the teams in Major League Baseball: Their players are not permitted to sport an unprofessional amount of facial hair.
This was started by the late George Steinbrenner in 1973 and has stuck with the franchise ever since.
Since then, countless players have had to trim their beards to play for the Bombers. Most recently, Johnny Damon and Kevin Youkilis had to shave their incredible beards just to put on the pinstripes.
Damon, coming over from the Boston Red Sox, had a beard that rivaled most primitive cavemen. Howevever, he appeared at his introductory press conference with the Yankees in December of 2005 cleanly shaven.
Steinbrenner commented on the new look for Damon, saying, "He looks like a Yankee, he sounds like a Yankee and he is a Yankee."
Clearly, Steinbrenner knew what he was looking for in terms of appearance when constructing his team.
Even since his passing, the Steinbrenner-style lives on through his sons, Hal and Hank.
When Youkilis signed with the team earlier this offseason, he was asked to shave the beard that he had worn since his early days with the Red Sox. Youkilis, first seen cleanly shaven on February 6, had to shave to comply with standard protocol. But he did keep a sweet mustache—an easy way to get around the "no beard" policy.
Countless players have styled mustaches in their time with the Yankees.
Randy Johnson kept his mustache after shaving his beard when he was acquired by the Yankees. Jason Giambi grew out a 'stache that can only be described as "interesting" when he was slumping.
Wade Boggs, David Wells, Jeff Nelson, Sal Fasano and Thurman Munson all had decent mustaches in their time with the team as well.
There have been instances in the past where players have rebelled and grew out their hair anyway.
Back in 1977, Munson decided to grow out a beard with the Yankees on the road. Steinbrenner, who always allowed mustaches, became enraged when he found out that manager Billy Martin could not control his players.
Martin, who was good friends with Munson, eventually got him to shave it off.
The great Don Mattingly put up a good enough fight in 1991 to actually win—sort of.
Midway through that season, Mattingly demanded a trade. The Yankees refused, so he began to grow out his hair. In August, the team told him to cut it. He refused and again asked for a trade. He was benched the next day by manager Stump Merrill and was told he wouldn't play again until he got a hair cut.
So much for that ultimatum. Mattingly was in the lineup the next day upon telling the Yankees he would trim his hair.
Now, we move to the present.
American League Cy Young winner David Price is not scheduled to be a free agent until after the 2015 season. That being said, he recognizes the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays may not be able to afford the raises he deserves via arbitration and a possible new contract.
With that being the case, there's a chance he could get traded before the deadline in 2013.
In an interview with Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, Price was told that he would obviously have to shave his notorious beard if he were traded to the Yankees (via Matt Snyder of CBS Sports). To that, Price responded with:
I wouldn't stay there very long then. I wouldn't sign a long-term deal there. Those rules, that's old-school baseball. I was born in '85. That's not for me. That's not something I want to be a part of.
Well there's goes that fantasy, Yankees fans.
To my knowledge, this is the first instance of a player being that outspoken about joining the Yankees because of their facial hair policy. Whether you agree with Price or think he's being irrational, the issue is more than worth discussing.
If attracting star players to the Bronx becomes an issue in the future because of their facial hair policy—especially in a time period when many players are growing out beards and enjoy having the freedom to choose how they look—then the Yankees may have to consider a policy change.
In fact, I think they most definitely should.
Is it time for a change in culture for the Yankees?
While there were never any indications that the Yankees would be a major player for Price, this comment all but assures the baseball world that they won't be.
Going after Price would now be a waste for the Yankees. They'd have to give up prospects to acquire him midseason and lose him after 2015, or risk him being so unhappy in his time there because of the facial hair rules that he'll underperform.
Again, there are no indications that this will become a trend in the future.
But the possibility does remain.
The Yankees are finally changing their business strategy after 2013. Hal and Hank Steinbrenner realize that it isn't practical to spend exorbitant amounts of money each season—hence the payroll cut to $189 million by 2014.
That's not enough, though.
If the Steinbrenners want to really change the culture in New York, they should modify the current facial hair policies in place.
David Price is not an example of a trend. He's the first big name to say "no" to the Yankees because of their rules and he could be the start of something much, much larger.
The last thing the Yankees should want is to be denied by the game's biggest free agents because they don't want to shave.
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