It was brief, but Andrew McCutchen’s time with the Yankees had an impact on me. In the moment, it was easy to appreciate the .251/.421/.471/.892 (145 OPS+) batting line. But both then and going forward, it was easy to appreciated Cutch as a person and a player. All around, he’s a funny, charming guy and a great ambassador for the game of baseball. So when he speaks, we ought to listen. In an article published yesterday, Cutch spoke, specifically about the Yankees’ hair length and facial hair policy. And all I can say is that he’s right.
While the policy may do a good job of saving players from their own bad hair and facial hair choices, it’s antiquated and stodgy at best and suppressive and racist at worst.
We live and baseball exists in a much different time than when the policy was implemented in 1973. Baseball, as many have said many times, needs to be better at letting individual players and personalities shine through; this policy runs contrary to that idea. As the biggest name and biggest brand in baseball, the Yankees need to catch up with the times and the other team.
While the Yankees hold a special place in our hearts and heads because we’re fans, on a bigger level, they aren’t any more or less special than any other team. Like the other 29, they’re a team trying to win and a business trying to make money. They aren’t priests or monks and Yankee Stadium isn’t a church or a monastery. They are not a city on a hill or a shining beacon or some morally superior club because their players look a certain way; they’re just a baseball team.
Sure, as a business, they can set rules, including a policy like this, but that doesn’t mean they should (other businesses shouldn’t either, generally speaking). Baseball isn’t like the office or wherever that we go into (or used to!) every day; it’s an entertainment product and not letting the stars of said product express themselves to the fullest isn’t necessary.
In the era of “Let the Kids Play” and players using their voices for bigger causes, of the need to market the stars, the Yankees’ policy is lagging behind. They need to get with the times.