The Miami Marlins are starting anew in 2014, and that apparently goes for not only their play but also their appearance on the field. According to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, owner Jeffrey Loria and the Marlins are loosening their stance on facial hair.
"This year, we're going to let them have beards, but they have to keep it trimmed up," manager Mike Redmond said.
The same also holds true for slightly longer hair.
"We just don't want it to be sloppy," Redmond said.
The Marlins had previously held very strict, New York Yankees-style rules on facial hair, requiring that it be taken off as per Loria's commands. The resulting opinions on why that was the case were classically centered on Loria's overbearing ego; the jokes about Loria trying to create a "Yankees South" clubhouse atmosphere make the comparisons to a megalomaniacal George Steinbrenner more apt.
But truthfully, the reason the Marlins instituted that old rule and even got a player like Jose Reyes to famously shave his head was probably due to an attempt to garner respect for a young franchise. It was silly in a way, because the Marlins were unlikely to be respected for a lot of reasons. But now that the Fish are thinking about allowing a few more heads of hair, which players will boast some impressive cuts?
The first thought about whom the Marlins would be letting loose upon their fan base this season is a transplant from Boston. The Florida native and former Red Sox member had about as hairy a face as one could get as part of last year's World Series-winning team.
Under the old policy, this likely would have violated both the facial hair and hair length concerns the Marlins often have. This season, the Fish are letting him keep some of the hair from his Boston days, as his picture from the headline shows. Much of the beard from last year can remain, and while it looks epic as Salty stares off with his sunglasses, it still looks as poor to me as it did on Hanley Ramirez all those years ago.
Who else can take advantage of this policy? A few Marlins like Nathan Eovaldi have the kind of long hair that could grow longer if the policy allows for it. A few others, like Mike Dunn and Henderson Alvarez, have goatees or other mild facial hair that could grow out like Saltalamacchia's given some time and proper grooming. The Marlins may allow anything as long as it remains "neat," as per their subjective opinions.
Saltalamacchia, for one, approves of the move and is asking for the Marlins to use the newfound freedom responsibly.
"This has been a rule for a long time, I understand," Saltalamacchia said. "He's allowed us to do it. We need to take advantage of it, and not go too far."
You know that, at any time, Loria could change his mind and ruin the fun for many of the Marlins' players if he sees fit. If the Fish feel like the hair is somehow misrepresenting their franchise (I don't see how that would be the case) or if the players do indeed take it to 2013 Boston Red Sox levels, you can be sure the policy will be rewritten. But at this stage, it is best that the Marlins take the reins off of some of the young Marlins' activities. Letting your hair grow out is a cardinal part of youth, and the young and hungry Miami Marlins should enjoy that time period of their lives. It's baseball, guys, let's not take it so seriously.