Andrew McCutchen: Yankees’ hair policy ”takes away from our individualism as players and as people.“

soxhop411

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He seems to be one of the first “star” players to call out the Yankees antiquated facial hair policy.
Andrew McCutchen thinks the Yankeesshould cut their hair policy.

“I definitely do think it takes away from our individualism as players and as people,” McCutchen told Jensen Karp on “The Sports Bubble” podcast. “We express ourselves in different ways.”

McCutchen spent about two months with the Yankees in 2018, coming over from the Giants in a trade and playing a role in their playoff run.
McCutchen thinks owner Hal Steinbrennershould seriously consider booting the rule that his father, late own George Steinbrenner, implemented in 1973.


“I feel like maybe there should be some change there in the future — who knows when — but it’s just one of the many things in this game that I feel that there just needs ... it needs to be talked about, and to be addressed,” said McCutchen, who took a three-year, $50-million deal from the Philadelphia Phillies following his stint with the Yankees.
He said it would have been tough for him to do when he was sporting his dreads. He said cutting them, even on his own accord, was a “very tough thing for me to do.”


“Because that was who I was,” he said. “That was how I expressed myself. That’s who made me Andrew McCutchen. That’s how people noticed who I was, it made me unique. I think, especially in this year, the year of 2020, I just feel like these things are, or should be, things that people should take at heart and realize that we have a way of expressing ourselves in different ways.”
 

jose melendez

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I've always been kind of amazed the policy stood. You'd think one of the multimillionaires with guaranteed money would have said fuck it.
 

BaseballJones

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I've always been kind of amazed the policy stood. You'd think one of the multimillionaires with guaranteed money would have said fuck it.
I know, right? If Jeter decided he was going to grow a goatee down the stretch of a pennant race, would the Yankees have really benched or suspended him?
 

loshjott

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Like Joe McCarthy relaxing his necktie rule for Ted Williams. "If I can't get along with a .400 hitter, they ought to fire me right now."
 

Ferm Sheller

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Like Joe McCarthy relaxing his necktie rule for Ted Williams. "If I can't get along with a .400 hitter, they ought to fire me right now."
McCarthy's better quote is: “I want to be fair about this, any other gentleman on this club that hits .390 will not have to wear a necktie either.”
 

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I had a rant thread about this policy here years ago (I think in 2012), but I think the board ate it unfortunately. It is truly absurd that it has lasted this long, I was hoping Gerrit Cole would be the one to take it down but no such luck. Good for McCutchen.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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I had a rant thread about this policy here years ago (I think in 2012), but I think the board ate it unfortunately. It is truly absurd that it has lasted this long, I was hoping Gerrit Cole would be the one to take it down but no such luck. Good for McCutchen.
Too bad he didn't speak up when he was playing there.

In 2007 we went to a Spring Training game and were in the family section behind home plate. Sat next to Drew's grandfather, fascinating man who told us that his grandson was going to be an All Star very soon. This was after only his 2nd minor league season, which had been in A and AA. Have rooted for him ever since.
 

terrynever

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Am I wrong in remembering that Mattingly and Wells had facial hair at some point in their pinstripe careers? If you’re traded to the Yankees, as McCutchen was, what’s stopping him from keeping his dreads? He didn’t ask to join the Yankees. They traded for him. Would the Yankees have reneged on the trade for non-conformity issues?
 

moondog80

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Am I wrong in remembering that Mattingly and Wells had facial hair at some point in their pinstripe careers? If you’re traded to the Yankees, as McCutchen was, what’s stopping him from keeping his dreads? He didn’t ask to join the Yankees. They traded for him. Would the Yankees have reneged on the trade for non-conformity issues?
Is any facial hair prohibited? I though it just had to be neat, however they choose to define that.

Mattingly, of course, was famously benched at one point by Stienbrenner for having long-ish hair.
 

jon abbey

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Seems a bit different in tone.
Yeah, he clearly didn't want to make waves then with two months to go in the season and approaching FA, but people are speaking up more these days about a lot of things like this, so good for him.
 

crow216

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Just make the change. I don't even know the Yankees' official stance and justification at this point other than "Daddy wanted it this way."
 

YTF

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Personally I think the policy is stupid, but every player in that organization signs a contract aware of what the policy is. Players traded there have less of a choice, but some could invoke their no trade clause if they have one.
 

Awesome Fossum

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Here's a story from a few years ago about Greg Vaughn breaking the Reds' no facial hair barrier in 1999 after he was traded from the Padres. I was surprised and a little saddened to read he sort of regrets it:

Now more than 16 years later, Vaughn looks back at that part of his life and it's one of his regrets from his playing career.

The Reds did not allow its players any type of facial hair from 1966 to 1999 before Greg Vaughn was allowed to keep his goatee.
"At the time, it was a big deal, because I didn't understand what it had to do with the game," Vaughn told the Enquirer by phone recently. "But they had their business, they had their rules, and like I said, Johnny Bench, (George) Foster, (Tony) Perez, (Barry) Larkin, (Joe) Morgan — if those guys could do it, I damn sure should have just followed suit."
I thought this Rollie Fingers story was funny:

Fingers remembered telling Rose he'd play for his Reds, but when Reds GM Bill Bergesch called to hammer out the details, the last was his mustache.

"I said, 'Why? What difference does it make whether I have a mustache or not,'" Fingers recalled on Friday. "He said, 'That's our policy. Marge Schott wants you to shave your mustache.' I said, 'You tell Marge Schott to shave Schottzie, and I'll shave my mustache.' And I never heard back from the Reds."
 

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That’s weird because I bet Marge would’ve been fine if he’d shaved his mustache into just a little bar covering the philtrum.
 

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A little tangent on the "flexibility" of Sias's rules: on a recent Pos Cast, Posnanski related that Ken Griffey Jr. hated the Yankees and would never play for them. They went on to relate a story about how when he was young and hanging out with his dad in the visiting dugout, an attendant came in and told his Griffey Sr. that Mr. Steinbrenner didn't want kids in the duggout and that Jr. would have to go to the clubhouse, or some other private area. Griffey Sr. told Jr. to check out 3B, where Graig Nettles kid was taking grounders.

"If the Yankees were the only team, I'd retire." - Jr.
 

JohnnyTheBone

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Here's a story from a few years ago about Greg Vaughn breaking the Reds' no facial hair barrier in 1999 after he was traded from the Padres. I was surprised and a little saddened to read he sort of regrets it:
Wait, George Foster had some of the best facial hair in baseball during his halcyon days with the Reds.
32352
 

JohnnyTheBone

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That was pre-Schott, she owned the team from 84 to 99.
I was just going by this, from the linked article above:
The Reds did not allow its players any type of facial hair from 1966 to 1999 before Greg Vaughn was allowed to keep his goatee.
"At the time, it was a big deal, because I didn't understand what it had to do with the game," Vaughn told the Enquirer by phone recently. "But they had their business, they had their rules, and like I said, Johnny Bench, (George) Foster, (Tony) Perez, (Barry) Larkin, (Joe) Morgan — if those guys could do it, I damn sure should have just followed suit."
I guess when you're the only player to blast 50 homers in a season between 1965 and 1990, they cut you a little slack.
 

jon abbey

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Oh, good point, it looks like it came from GM Bob Howsam until Schott lifted it for Vaughn in 1999. One article I just saw said that Vaughn was the first Red to have facial hair since 1902 (!!!).
 

Patek's 3 Dingers

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Everyone in MLB and their brother has grown a beard and even guys like Mookie that can't grow a good one still grow something. A long time ago, it was side burns, then it was mustaches and it's time to move on from beards. I applaud the Yankees for not yielding to "Monkey see, monkey do". I would also like to see more stirrup socks.

Williams and DiMaggio were as cool as it gets and they didn't need no beards.
 

Max Power

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Oh, good point, it looks like it came from GM Bob Howsam until Schott lifted it for Vaughn in 1999. One article I just saw said that Vaughn was the first Red to have facial hair since 1902 (!!!).
Almost nobody had facial hair until those A's teams in the 70s. Players were really weird about it, literally shaving after games before talking to the press. It wouldn't surprise me if the 1902 date was accurate.
 

InstaFace

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Almost nobody had facial hair until those A's teams in the 70s. Players were really weird about it, literally shaving after games before talking to the press. It wouldn't surprise me if the 1902 date was accurate.
reminds me of that philosophical web comic that got linked in V&N recently, by a guy who'd grown up in a military household and observed the evolution of uniform wearing, and (conservative) guys first adhering to that but more recently opting for a gruffer, hairier look (alongside aping military personas in other respects - fatigues, certain types of sunglasses, etc), identifying those signals that were meant to tell others that they belonged to this particular tribe in our country, and exploring what it might imply for our society. Anyway, the relevant part is how 50 years ago, long hair and facial hair were the signs of a counterculture rebel, whereas today they (along with a bunch of other symbols) are the signs of someone who wants to evoke a militaristic and rural machismo.
 

terrynever

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Everyone in MLB and their brother has grown a beard and even guys like Mookie that can't grow a good one still grow something. A long time ago, it was side burns, then it was mustaches and it's time to move on from beards. I applaud the Yankees for not yielding to "Monkey see, monkey do". I would also like to see more stirrup socks.

Williams and DiMaggio were as cool as it gets and they didn't need no beards.
Sooner or later, we have to mention the House of David traveling team. Long hair, restrictions on sex and alcohol. Lou Gehrig would have fit in nicely.

 

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I get a player saying that it takes away from their individualism. I also get why an organization would say "this is our corporate identity, our brand identity". From the choice of colors, to the pinstripes, to marketing, to the money and attention to detail in construction of the replacement stadium, they have been consistent (to my surface knowledge) in their message and approach. In a lot of ways, the message boils down to "the team identity/performance is what matters, even more than individual performance". I personally don't see why that is viewed as a negative. Seems to have worked for them, and works in Foxboro, and in other organizations. I'm not saying it's the only factor, but it certainly would seem to be a positive factor. If the argument is that the modern athlete isn't willing to operate within those expectations and it's costing them players, I'd get it. I just haven't seen and don't see players turning down millions because they don't want to shave - especially given the upside of playing in NY and with access to endorsements, media exposure, etc. that can be lucrative both during and post career.

What am I missing?
 

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I just haven't seen and don't see players turning down millions because they don't want to shave - especially given the upside of playing in NY and with access to endorsements, media exposure, etc. that can be lucrative both during and post career.
What about turning down the major league minimum as rookies, long before they are arb-eligible, let alone free agents?
 

terrynever

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I get a player saying that it takes away from their individualism. I also get why an organization would say "this is our corporate identity, our brand identity". From the choice of colors, to the pinstripes, to marketing, to the money and attention to detail in construction of the replacement stadium, they have been consistent (to my surface knowledge) in their message and approach. In a lot of ways, the message boils down to "the team identity/performance is what matters, even more than individual performance". I personally don't see why that is viewed as a negative. Seems to have worked for them, and works in Foxboro, and in other organizations. I'm not saying it's the only factor, but it certainly would seem to be a positive factor. If the argument is that the modern athlete isn't willing to operate within those expectations and it's costing them players, I'd get it. I just haven't seen and don't see players turning down millions because they don't want to shave - especially given the upside of playing in NY and with access to endorsements, media exposure, etc. that can be lucrative both during and post career.

What am I missing?
Not a thing. That’s the best explanation I’ve read on this thread. I miss the days when team mattered more than individualism. But I also understand, as you do, that those days are over.
This thread reminds me of basic training in the Army when everyone got their hair shaved down to a crew cut. They wanted to take away our individualism in one fell swoop because when you are going to war in four or five months, you need everyone on the same page. Sports is not about going to war so a little individualism isn’t going to kill anyone. But if you ask Bill Belichick about individualism within a team concept, you know what his answer would be.
 

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I get a player saying that it takes away from their individualism. I also get why an organization would say "this is our corporate identity, our brand identity". From the choice of colors, to the pinstripes, to marketing, to the money and attention to detail in construction of the replacement stadium, they have been consistent (to my surface knowledge) in their message and approach. In a lot of ways, the message boils down to "the team identity/performance is what matters, even more than individual performance". I personally don't see why that is viewed as a negative. Seems to have worked for them, and works in Foxboro, and in other organizations. I'm not saying it's the only factor, but it certainly would seem to be a positive factor. If the argument is that the modern athlete isn't willing to operate within those expectations and it's costing them players, I'd get it. I just haven't seen and don't see players turning down millions because they don't want to shave - especially given the upside of playing in NY and with access to endorsements, media exposure, etc. that can be lucrative both during and post career.

What am I missing?
Well for one, you said it right there yourself - performance of the team matters most. If you want to try to make a case for a goatee reducing production, by all means have at it. I'm not entirely sure why or how your comparing it to NE, as BB allows his players to do whatever they like as long sa it doesn't distract from the team; he's certainly not going to waste his time making sure players shave. Personally I don't see why it's viewed as a positive, but again, welcome to hear the argument for it; their success can't be tied to this dumb policy in any way and you've no idea what players they've lost a chance on because of it (McCutchen being one who just said it) or which ones they just basically threw enough money at them to make it impossible to refuse. The problem with your "corporate brand, identity" line of thought is the majority of players this ends up applying to have no choice. If I'm offered a job with Apple and they have a policy about X,Y or Z, I have the freedom to either accept it or go elsewhere. These guys are locked into the organization that drafts them until they hit FA. Suppressing their individualism is just a kick in the balls on top of it and as someone noted, it's because daddy said so.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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But if you ask Bill Belichick about individualism within a team concept, you know what his answer would be.
See, this is ridiculous oversimplification. BB doesn't quash individualism, he quashes distractions. He doesn't care if you have tattoos, cornrows, a goatee, long hair, throw beach boat parties in the off season, etc. Show up, do your job and don't waste anyone's time on bullshit like Instagram from the locker room. And even then he'll still probably take a chance now and then (Antonio Brown).

I'm pretty sure if Mike Trout said he'd sign with the Yankees tomorrow if he could grow a beard and a ponytail, not a single Yankee fan would be crying in their milk about brand or identity.
 

terrynever

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See, this is ridiculous oversimplification. BB doesn't quash individualism, he quashes distractions. He doesn't care if you have tattoos, cornrows, a goatee, long hair, throw beach boat parties in the off season, etc. Show up, do your job and don't waste anyone's time on bullshit like Instagram from the locker room. And even then he'll still probably take a chance now and then (Antonio Brown).

I'm pretty sure if Mike Trout said he'd sign with the Yankees tomorrow if he could grow a beard and a ponytail, not a single Yankee fan would be crying in their milk about brand or identity.
In football, when defensive players stray from their assignment, this freelancing often leads to big plays from the offense. That was my point. Guys get out of their lanes on kick returns, same thing.
 

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See, this is ridiculous oversimplification. BB doesn't quash individualism, he quashes distractions. He doesn't care if you have tattoos, cornrows, a goatee, long hair, throw beach boat parties in the off season, etc. Show up, do your job and don't waste anyone's time on bullshit like Instagram from the locker room. And even then he'll still probably take a chance now and then (Antonio Brown).

--snip--
How many people have missed on jobs in corporate america because they've shown up with tattoos or body markings that didn't fit into the corporate image? Companies have always been able to say "this is the image we want to project". No one is saying there is a performance benefit - other than to say that symbolically shaving/conforming puts you on the same page as everyone else and more specifically to the image that is conveyed to the paying customer. I mean if not, then there isn't any reason in baseball that each player can't wear their own custom designed uniform. Psychologically speaking, Joe over there might perform better wearing a calming soft blue colored uniform, why shouldn't he be allowed to wear it? It's not like it's going to affect the game. Chris Sale objected to the uniform his team decided to wear for marketing reasons - shouldn't he get to choose what he wears every day if it doesn't affect his performance? If Joe rookie wants to wear bright red lipstick onto the field, should his team be able to say no? I remember being forced to watch orientation videos as a young teen about corporate standards at the local Dunkin Donuts about what could or could not be worn while in front of the customer - from nail polish colors for women, to earrings, to jewelry in general, undershirts, what color shoes, everything. It's life when you want to work for a company - especially a company that values it's corporate image. I'm not crying over a young athlete looking at hundreds of thousands on the minimum MLB salary when I had to conform to make minimum wage at Dunks, and later wearing suits to be able to work as a programmer at an insurance company - the computer didn't care what I was wearing. And if it doesn't bother the Yankees that they might lose a player or 12 in the minors over the policy, or maybe a free agent who doesn't want to conform... as I've said, they seem to have done decently well running their organization over the years... daddy's rules or not.

Facial hair is an issue in the Bronx, music is an issue in Foxboro. Wes Welker made a joke in public at an opposing coaches expense and was benched for it. "We don't do that here. It's not how we comport ourselves." Humor is as individualistic as it gets. The various details don't matter, individuals meshing into the organizational approach do. Sure some is about distractions, and minimizing them. Some is about "the professionalism that we conduct our business with". Go back in time, Wooden cared how his players tied their shoes, how they wore their warm-up clothes. If you want to lump sum the whole "professional/corporate appearance" as antiquated that's cool. I still think it still has it's value. There are things that are bigger than we are, in sports it's the team. But I'm old... lol
 

moondog80

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Wait, George Foster had some of the best facial hair in baseball during his halcyon days with the Reds.
View attachment 32352

Are sideburns considered facial hair? Tough to know where to draw the line if the sideburns get long enough, but I would look at that picture and say it's a guy without facial hair.

But yes, those are epic sideburns.
 

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The point is, without the shave and haircut, they can’t be part of professional baseball. They didn’t choose the Yankees.
OK, I get your point. I'd counter that it's an extremely minor sacrifice to gain access to the riches offered a professional athlete. As you know people often give up a lot more for far less. I felt like I was missing something of more significance. I'll worry more about companies ignoring OSHA/health standards for low pay workers (say a meat processing plant in South Dakota), or MiLB players getting stiffed on their small salaries than whether or not the lower level workers of one team have to shave or not to be considered good employees.

Thanks for answering.
 

mauf

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I haven’t done the math, but if you did, I think you’d find that a ban on facial hair disproportionately impacts black players. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily racist, but it’s fair to expect a better reason for the policy than “the convicted felon who used to own the team liked it that way.” The MLBPA ought to file a grievance.