Winning a championship isn’t enough

I don’t care for conformity, and one of the greatest daily annoyances for me is the idea of dress codes for adults. I understand the need to be presentable according to specific audiences in a professional setting, and I’m always willing to accommodate in my work. But a push for excessive accommodation and conformity often bulldoze into the workplace. There’s no reason for employees in back-office operations, an area that sees no clients, to dress in business attire, unless that’s what the employee wants. It’s absurd. I’ve been there and I hated it. However, I’ve looked for other employment in the past when I’ve encountered such situations. Idiotic dress codes are often emblematic of other problems within a professional setting. I’m willing to react according to free-market principles.

But what happens when the workplace isn’t free-market, or even in an office? What do the employees do then?

[A.J.] Pierzynski and [Joe] Crede got the word from [White Sox] owner Jerry Reinsdorf — relayed to them by [GM Ken] Williams — that he’d like a neater appearance. Both have long blond hair sticking out from their caps, a style Crede started last season when the team was winning or he was hitting well.

“Jerry Reinsdorf asked me to tell them to get a haircut and look more presentable. So I asked them to get a haircut and look more presentable,” Williams said.

“Rules are rules and you got to follow them,” Crede said, adding he’d never had a haircut in Chicago. “If you got to cut it, you got to cut it.”

That’s ridiculous. They’re professional athletes. I can accept the notion that athletes from all sports should be presentable when the team is traveling. They’re representing the business when the fans/customers are most likely to come into normal contact with them. The team wants to set a good example. But on the field? They’re athletes.

They’re wearing caps that contain their hair. They’re going to sweat and get dirty. Should they change their uniforms after every inning if they slide, picking up a dirt or grass stain? Of course not. And has Mr. Reinsdorf looked through the average sports crowd at his [hideously ugly] ballpark lately, beyond the view from his skybox? He’s not dealing with the metropolitan opera.

Look at the 2005 Chicago White Sox, the 2004 Boston Red Sox, the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies, or almost any other team that’s won a championship in the last decade and you’ll find a team. Not a collection of players, but a team. A team is a group of players that have bonded over the season, almost like a military unit. The players on a team experience all the frustrations and joys of a long season as a team. Killing that spirit to look more professional often ends in disaster at the first sign of trouble. The team may lose its common bond with forced conformity. Moves like this are short-sighted.

I’m just glad it’s the White Sox and not the Phillies. The Phillies need all the team mojo we can muster. If that means long hair and mullets (circa 1993), then I’m all for it. As a fan who pays for the games.