Brian Wilson's beard, no matter how big it gets, no matter the hype that comes with it, does not really affect how he pitches. It might be a distraction or an amusement, but it doesn't detract from — or enhance — his performance. So, no matter how much a few stuffed shirts might get ruffled because they're easily disgusted by this hairy mess of a monster pitching, The Beard hasn't really mattered. Perhaps, until this very moment.
From the Major League Baseball general manager meetings in Orlando, Fla. and the Twitter account of Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger:
Brian Cashman says you can rule out the Yankees signing Brian Wilson. His agent told team he won't shave beard. True story, Cashman says.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) November 13, 2013
The Yankees, if you weren't aware, have a policy regarding facial hair. Mustaches are OK — Thurman Munson had one. Even a fu-manchu to some degree is allowable — like Goose Gossage. But no beards. Certainly not what Brian Wilson has on his face. It's a policy that was instituted during the George Steinbrenner days. The Boss might have died, but his facial hair rules live on.
The Boss vs. The Beard.
It's kind of hysterical, considering what has gone on with the Yankees since, well, Steinbrenner bought the team in the 1970s, that such a conservative personal grooming policy would hamper a team that would pay any other price to win.
It's not like the Yankees couldn't use Brian Wilson, either, with closer Mariano Rivera having retired, and Cashman showing no confidence that David Robertson can be a stopper in the ninth inning. It's quite possible that Wilson is the best relief pitcher available. He's just what the Yankees need.
Back in February, left-hander David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays caused a mini-stir by saying he'd never sign with the Yankees because of their policy — and he has a normal person's beard. Even Wilson has been quoted as saying he'd never go to the Yankees because of their beard intolerance. But all of that was hypothetical.
Wilson, having shown with the Dodgers he still can get people out, is healthy and needs a team for which to save games. But the Yankees, desperate to wash the stank off their 85-victory, tied-for-third-place season, will not cave. And Wilson, for his part, will not shave. Strange principals with strange principles.
At this point, Brian Wilson pitching clean shaven might be his most shocking look yet. He might change his mind, but the Yankees aren't going to.
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