There’s a longstanding theory that schools like Notre Dame or Stanford can’t consistently field great college football teams because of the comparatively rigorous academic requirements those schools have.
It’s a competitive disadvantage that’s been baked into their DNA, and their football teams can’t do much about it.
You can find similar baked-in disadvantages all across professional sports (e.g. a state’s high income tax or cold weather turning off free agents), but one odd disadvantage has always stood out because of how decidedly self-imposed it is: the New York Yankees’ dress code.
According to OutKick, the rule originated in 1976 when then-Yankees owner George Steinbrenner started requiring his players to be clean-shaven and have their hair cut (though a well-kept mustache is approved).
The general thinking was that a strict appearance policy would help foster a disciplined and ordered environment for the Yankees.
From a winning standpoint, it’s hard to argue with what the Yankees have accomplished since implementing the dress code. The team has won seven World Series titles since 1976, the most in baseball.
However, the Yankees have also not won a World Series since 2009 — a drought going on 15 years, which is tied for the second-longest gap between World Series wins in franchise history. (Their longest drought was 18 years between 1978 and 1996.)
Former Yankees outfielder Cameron Maybin thinks he knows what might be contributing to that recent futility.
Maybin, the quintessential MLB journeyman who played for 10 different teams (including the Yankees in 2019), posted the following to X on Thursday:
“This might be an unpopular take to Yankees fans, but you’d be surprised how much more attractive the Yankees would be if they got rid of that facial hair rule. You wouldn’t believe how many quality players just think it’s a wack rule to have.
“I mean cmon we’re coming up on 2024 let that go already, and I swear it would be more appealing. Again this only comes from conversations I’ve had and experience from actually Playing.”
This might be an unpopular take to Yankees fans, but you’d be surprised how much more attractive the Yankees would be if they got rid of that facial hair rule. You wouldn’t believe how many quality players just think it’s a wack rule to have. I mean cmon we’re coming up on 2024…
— Cameron Maybin (@CameronMaybin) December 7, 2023
Yankees purists would argue that the pomp and prestige of donning those New York pinstripes should supersede any consternation over shaving, and that Maybin’s concerns are overblown.
But is there something to be said about the team needlessly putting itself at a disadvantage in the hunt for free agent acquisitions?
Perhaps, but whatever disincentive there may be to join the Yankees based on facial hair requirements is more than offset by the fact that the Yankees can typically offer players more money than any other MLB franchise.
The Bronx Bombers consistently have a top-three payroll in MLB, if not the top one, a baked-in advantage that probably far outweighs any downsides.
It doesn’t seem like a massive ask to require players to shave for the baseball season when you’re paying them double what the next team can.
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