This year, the Marlins are taking a page from the Boston Red Sox playbook. I would like to introduce you to the Marlins new teammate, the Beard. The Beard took on a cult-like element for the Boston Red Sox on the way to their 2013 World Championship, and after signing former Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the offseason, the Marlins have relaxed their own ban on the facial hair.
Since Jeffrey Loria took over more than 10 years ago, the Marlins have abided by a no beard policy, but allowing goatees. Clark Spencer, writer for the Miami Herald, explained what seemed to change Loria’s mind.
But it was a former member of the World Series champs, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who might have given Loria the idea to give in on his beard edict. Saltalamacchia said that when he met with Loria and front office executives before he signed his three-year deal with the Marlins, the topic of the Red Sox and their facial hair came up in the conversation.
According to manager Mike Redmond, there are still some stipulations regarding the fuzzy neck friend that the Marlins are now allowing.
“This year we’re going to let them have beards, but they have to keep them trimmed up, and the hair, too,” said manager Mike Redmond. “We just don’t want it to look sloppy.”
So what does all this mean for the Marlins moving forward? Are the Marlins going to go on some magical run like the Red Sox did last year, while more and more players adopt the beard? Or is total anarchy going to reign now that a long-standing rule has been lifted? I have to believe that while the beards may bring some unity to the clubhouse (for those able to grow them), the change will largely be negligent. But there is an important part to this puzzle that has to be noted. DICTATOR JEFFREY LORIA CHANGED HIS STANCE!
I am just as stunned about this revelation as you are. It has always been Loria’s way or the highway, and many people have jumped on that highway as quickly as possible. The Marlins well-documented stance barring no-trade clauses which reared its ugly head during the Marlins pursuit of Albert Pujols (doesn’t look so bad now, does it?) further went to illustrate the rigid attitude of an owner who was unwilling to be flexible. But this is a great sign!
Even something as small as facial-hair can be viewed as Loria relinquishing some control over the players, control that, in the past, has seemed that he values more than even winning. I think this will allow the players to believe in their owner more than they have previously, which will help the team dynamic. The bottom line is this, teams tend to play better when they are playing for something or someone other than themselves.
Look at Boston last year, they were united in their desire to bring a championship to a city that had undergone horrible tragedy at the Boston Marathon during the season. They were playing for their great fans. Or you can look at the teams that the Pittsburgh Steelers have fielded over the years. The Rooney family is widely considered one of the best owners in professional sports, and the players have been united in their desire to bring success to the family that they hold in such high-esteem.
I am not saying that the Marlins are going to become the Steelers, but lets face it, this off-season has been a largely positive one for the Marlins in general, particularly when comparing to last year’s debacle. My biggest hope is that they continue to get better, and get to a place where the Marlins are a respectable franchise that has placed an emphasis on winning. In the past, I didn’t think that they could do that with Jeffrey Loria as the owner. Now, it seems that Loria is pushing the envelope on my belief of people’s ability to change, and that is great news.