Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Although I’ve been a Yankees fan all my life, sometimes they really piss me off. Bear with me. I need to throw a wee tantrum.

Did you hear about the club forcing Clint Frazier to cut his hair? It’s bad enough having God and country shoved down one’s throat at every home game when an announcer asks everyone to “please rise as we honor America” and then hits us with another rendition of God Bless America by Kate Smith. But piling on Frazier and pressuring him to shear his curly red locks was over the top.

Before (NYTimes photo)

Here’s one of the top young prospects in baseball and all the Yankees could worry about was the length of his hair. Manager Joe Girardi called it a “distraction.” The one most upset was Jennifer Steinbrenner, daughter of the late owner, who scolded Frazier for violating the Yankees’ grooming policy that prohibits beards, long sideburns and long hair.

Let me be clear: I think the policy stinks. It’s dopey and totally out of step with the times. It came into being when Jennifer’s daddy bought the club in 1973.

Jennifer Steinbrenner. Hair too long?

Frazier, bless his soul, resisted at first. “I like my hair,” he said. “They’re making my hair bigger than my game. I’m here to play baseball.”

But as pressure from Steinbrenner and others mounted, Frazier finally relented, retreating to the clubhouse where a barber did the deed.

Getting clipped (NYTimes photo)

The firstr I realized something had happened was when I was watching a spring training game on TV between the Yanks and Phillies. One of the announcers remarked, “Seems like there’s less hair in left field.” I peered closer to the screen. Sure enough, Frazier’s bushy red hair was gone.

Later, Frazier said, “I finally came to the agreement that it’s time to look like everybody else around here.”

And that’s the problem. Have you ever seen a bunch of sheep after they’ve been sheared? They all look alike. That’s the Yankees for you. It’s as if they’ve been cloned.

How I wish Frazier had resisted and said, “Ain’t gonna happen. You want me, you get my hair, too.”

Same thing with other players who’ve been shorn of their individuality.

Jacoby Ellsbury as a Red Sox

Ever wonder why Jacoby Ellsbury has been so disappointing as a hitter after he was acquired from the Red Sox? The Yankees did a Samson on him, too.

Ellsbury the Yankee

There’s also Johnny Damon who played four years with the Yankees until 2009. Both he and Ellsbury played better with the Red Sox than they did before they were shaven and shorn.

Johnny Damon before and after (NY Times photos)

I wonder what will happen if the Yankees go after Bryce Harper when he becomes a free agent. Will Bryce dig in? If he does, will the Yankees back down? I’d love to think so but it’s hard to tell. The ghost of George Steinbrenner still lurks and the Yankee policy is very much alive.

Frazier himself, however, has come to grips with reality. “I liked my hair and I liked the way I looked, but I love playing for this organization more.”

His hair, though, has not merely been swept away. It’s been scooped up by a Yankee publicist and will be auctioned off with proceeds going to important charities.

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