Brian Wilson, David Price won’t sign with Yankees because of beard policy
It’s funny what a World Series title will do. A year ago at this time, borrowing an idea from the Boston Red Sox would have been as advisable as hiring Bobby Valentine as your head of public relations (or as your athletic director).
Today, baseball is looking at the Sox as a model hardball franchise. Just look at the Phillies. They’re already blatantly stealing the “sign mid-to-low level talent for short years” approach (see Marlon Byrd signing and their reported pursuit of A.J. Pierzynski) and hoping for the best. So for now, all the things the Red Sox do are in vogue.
Even the Yankees could learn a little something from their arch-rivals this offseason because it’s quite apparent that their holier-than-thou approach to many things is as old as the median age of their 2013 roster. They need to get with the times. They could start by getting rid of the ridiculous “no beard” policy put in by George Steinbrenner in 1973.
Steinbrenner was stuck in the 1950s in the 1970s. But it didn’t matter in the latter half of that latter decade, because the Yankees won. Today, the Yankees aren’t winning. And the 40-year-old beard rule is now hurting their chances at landing top players. Seriously.
Wednesday, free agent closer Brian Wilson said he wouldn’t play for the Yankees because of their beard policy. And, if you haven’t heard, the Yankees could use a closer. Rays starter David Price, under Tampa Bay’s control through 2015, has said in the past that he would avoid the Bronx because of their facial hair restrictions.
Now, there is the possibility that things could get out of hand down the road if the Yanks actually did nix the rule. There certainly is something about that Yankees uniform mixed with infield dirt, sweat and facial hair that smells through the screen – think Pete Vuckovich as Yankees first baseman Clu Haywood in the film Major League or 1980s WWF jobber The Brooklyn Brawler (who made a comeback when pro wrestling returned to Brooklyn last year).
But there are some traditions in sports that just die, because, frankly, they weren’t all that important to begin with. Every player on the Celtics used to wear black sneakers, for instance. The Lakers used to only wear gold at home and purple on the road. The Montreal Canadiens only used to hire head coaches who spoke French.
The Yankees should borrow from their baseball-playing neighbors to the north in this situation. We’re in a players’ era. And unfortunately for pinstriped traditionalists, a lot of players these days despise razors.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor and columnist Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS