It turns out the cosmetic changes at Miami Marlins camp weren't just limited to their spring training facility. According to an Associated Press report, new manager Don Mattingly is also bringing back the team's no facial hair policy effective immediately.
This represents quite a change for Mattingly, who had no such rules during his five seasons managing the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also famously sported a mustache throughout his career with the New York Yankees. Of course, the Yankees are quite famous for their grooming etiquette, which one time led to Mattingly being benched when he refused to cut his hair.
The Marlins last had a strict facial hair policy in 2011, but that was abandoned under the Ozzie Guillen regime.
"Guys will whine. Some guys like it, some guys won't. As long as we're consistent, I think it's not that big of a deal," Mattingly said on Sunday.
Among those impacted are superstar pitcher Jose Fernandez and All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon. Fernandez had a beard last season, while Gordon frequently sported a goatee.
"I'm afraid I'm going to look 16," Fernandez said. "But it's not a big deal. Whatever the rules are, we're going to follow them."
The Marlins are obviously going for a more professional look, but above that in Mattingly's mind seems to be consistency. He wants everyone operating on the same level and living within the same guidelines. It won't impact how they play, of course, but the thinking is it reminds everyone that they're equals and that no one player has more leeway than the others.
"Initially not too many guys were happy about it," said reliever Mike Dunn, who was forced to part with his goatee. "You can fight it, or you don't. Obviously I shaved, so it's OK."
It's just facial hair, after all, but it is an interesting message to send. Many felt the Marlins grossly underachieved last season, so perhaps Mattingly's idea is to engage his players right away and channel the response into a greater focus on the task at hand.
That's one possibility anyway. Another is that it's just a silly, outdated line of thinking that will fall flat and make Mattingly look more like a dictator than a manager.
Both possibilities exist, but the reality is the Marlins will have to play better baseball if they hope for better results. That's how baseball has always worked, and that's how baseball will continue to work.
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