GLENDALE, Ariz. — I understand that this is going out on a fragile limb above a pool shared by sharks and alligators, but I witnessed the greatest mullet in baseball history Sunday morning, and I refuse to believe otherwise.
Randy Johnson(notes) may have sported the curly afterbirth on his neck, and John Kruk may have rocked the accompanying gut, and Troy Tulowitzki(notes) may have had the ironic twist to his charity mullet, but nobody – nobody – can compete with the absolute resplendence that topped Travis Schlichting's(notes) head on Sunday.
Schlichting is a 26-year-old right-hander trying to make the Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen, and it's been a rough spring. In his first outing, he allowed three runs. Last time out, two unearned runs scored. He needed a change.
Around 8:15 a.m. Sunday, when Schlichting entered the Dodgers' clubhouse from the back, there was an audible gasp. The more players filtered in, the better the reaction got. Veteran Gabe Kapler(notes) glanced across the room at Schlichting and mustered only a whisper: "Holy smokes." Another Dodger yelled: "Kenny Powers!"
Perhaps the best reaction came from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, who was going around the clubhouse to check on his staff when he came upon Schlichting.
"Oh my God," Honeycutt said. "What the hell?"
Only the most spectacular mullet this side of a hockey dressing room and a monster-truck show. Every element of Schlichting's hair was perfect. The top level jutted like he had a million cowlicks. The next level was shaved to about even with the back of his ears. And then there was the flowing mane in back, the highest-quality trailer-park drapes. It was Joe Dirt 2.0.
Not only did Schlichting's wife, Juliana, sanction the mullet, she shaped it. With her help, Schlichting made his regular old long hair (right) into something special.
Hey, Samson: Shove it.
"It's on a day-to-day basis right now," Schlichting said. "We'll see what happens."
Schlichting refused to commit to the mullet long-term, which is a shame. If Manny Ramirez(notes) can inspire a stadium full of dreadlocked Dodgers fans, surely Schlichting's mullet can transcend similarly. Imagine the possibilities. Mullet Day at Dodger Stadium. Mullet wig giveaway. First McCourt to rock a mullet gets full ownership.
In the meantime, he just wants to throw better. He pitched well in a 14-game stint with the Dodgers last season, a year after a bout with Gilbert's syndrome caused Schlichting to drop nearly 30 pounds.
If it takes the greatest mullet in baseball history to spur that, so be it.
"I don't want people to know I actually like it," Schlichting said. "Turned out way better than I thought."