Here’s a little fact that I was unaware of until now, minor league baseball and Major League Baseball have differing sartorial policies, with MLB allowing for much more leeway as to how players wear their uniforms. And a group of Phillies minor leaguers told the Boston Herald that their desire to have long hair and wear long pants is one of the main motivations to get to the big leagues:
"I look at it as kind of a rite of passage," said Garret Claypool, a righthander for the Phillies’ Class A affiliate in Lakewood. "Once you get to the big leagues, you can wear your pants down."
Catcher Jeff Lanning added, "And you can wear your hair whatever way you want."
I never realized that minor league dress codes were so strict. The players should protest the codes by wearing tie dye T-shirts that say "down with homework" on the front.
Anyway, the Herald notes that baseball differs from football in terms of uniform guidelines (the NFL will have you jailed in Cambodia for a year if you expose your calves), and it’s a small detail that shows you how much more powerful baseball’s players union is. And how the NFL players are trying to gain at least some measure of that power back during that league’s ongoing lockout.
While I’m all for individual freedom and think you should dress yourself as you see fit (I never work with pants on -- blogging!), it is somewhat bittersweet to see players gain this kind of sartorial freedom, because so many of them end up abusing that freedom to ill effect. Long pants on a baseball player look dumb. The high sock look is TIGHT! JIM THOME KNOWS THIS. And I still have nightmares about Brandon Inge’s chin hair. Baseball players can’t be trusted to dress themselves in a cool manner. They almost need a despicable tyrant like Roger Goddell demanding they tuck their jerseys in.
Anyway, should the Phillies call up one of these younguns for the stretch run, take note. They’re smiling because yes, they’re in the Bigs and making serious bank now. But also, they can unbutton the top button on their jersey. That’s what freedom tastes like.