A good Labor Day to you all. This is the first Labor Day that I have had off in more than 20 years. Don't look at me that way. It's called Labor Day. You're supposed to labor, right? At least that's what my boss always told me.
I'm not going to try to tie my post in with the holiday. I had something all planned and then I got sidetracked looking up hard rock bands from the early '80s. Anyone remember Zebra? They were a tremendous band from the early MTV days. Tell Me What You Want. Who's Behind the Door. Bears. Awesome. Let's spend a few moments remembering the days when people knew how to rock and then a brief second of mourning over what music has become today. ...
OK. Somewhat along those lines, I thought I'd examine my childhood preferences again. It's what I do best. As you know, as a kid, I preferred the hairy ballplayers. They were everywhere in the 1970s. Long hair, mustaches and beards in abundance. Frank Tanana. Dock Ellis. Garry Maddox. Ron Cey. Joe Rudi. Don Stanhouse. Jimmy Wynn. Rollie Fingers. Mike Schmidt. Phil Garner. Ray Fosse. Al Hrabosky. Ted Sizmore. Sparky Lyle. Etc. Etc. Etc.
It was the style at the time, and as a 9-year-old, even though I knew nothing about style or trends, I thought they were the greatest players ever. They became instant favorites. To this day, they remain favorites, often simply because of the way they wore their hair.
I haven't really examined WHY they became my favorites. Some might think it's a hero worship thing as I connected those players to the adult male figures in my life. But the thing is, I didn't know any adult males who had mustaches and beards. My dad didn't. My adult relatives didn't. My parents' friends didn't. My friends' parents didn't. I'd come across a few kids with longer hair, but that was it. These ballplayers didn't represent the adults I knew at all.
So, without paying lots of money to a professional to help me sort it out, I'm assuming that I liked these players because even at an early age, I admired a rebel. I still do. I'm not much of a rebel myself -- although I've had my moments -- but there is always that spirit of "going against the grain" buzzing inside me, even as I continue on through life as a good little citizen.
I know some readers visualize me with a beard. I've been told that before. I don't have a beard. Never have. There are certain people in my family who abhor facial hair. I grew a mustache about 10 years ago and kept it for a year. I think my mother wore black the entire time. (It's funny how some women can't stand facial hair on guys and others love it. And they say men have their hang-ups).
So, I look pretty straight-laced. But ever since I was a kid, I've respected the ballplayer who let his hair grow and didn't shave. Who gives a flip about grooming norms? There are more important things to be done than pay attention to your hair.
That is why players like Konrad Schmidt give me hope for today's player, even as they listen to some god-awful music. I know next to nothing about Schmidt other than that he played a handful of games for the Diamondbacks last season and has spent a lot of time in Triple A. He could be clean-shaven now for all I know. But what I do know is he's not on this card.
I am enjoying seeing the longer hair and facial hair on today's players. It's something I paid tribute to before. I hope that most of them wear their hair the way they did in the '70s, without too much thought to the grooming of that hair. Just let it be, man.
Hair worn like that is cool. Hair worn like Brian Wilson is not cool. Too much thought into that beard. Too much thought into a "persona." You don't perfectly "groom" your beard either, like Cody Ross. That makes me want to throw up. It's a fine line. Keep your beard so it doesn't look like birds are living in it, but don't wear it like you're watching "Sex in the City" every week.
To players like Konrad Schmidt, I salute you. A Lowenbrau for you ... although none of those guys have mustaches ... so, uh, drink whatever you like. It's probably what you do anyway.
Night Card Binder candidate: Konrad Schmidt, 2011 PCL Top Prospects, Card #24
Does it make the binder?: Right on!