Craig Calcaterra

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Associated Press

Are facial hair bans in sports racist?

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The Miami Marlins recently made headlines by banning facial hair for its on-field personnel. That led Jack Moore to write a column over at Vocativ about the history of facial hair bans in sports. It’s a pretty revealing history.

Revealing in that such bans are almost always reactionary. They began in earnest as a response to counterculture values and, in no small part, were first conceived of in a response to black athletes with mustaches, beards and muttonchops and tended to be enforced against them first as well. Moore’s detailing of a college wrestler and the Oregon State football team’s experience in the late 1960s is particularly revealing in this regard.

In baseball, Moore notes that no players wore facial hair between 1917 and 1971. But not because of some official ban for the most part. It was only when the culture at large began to be more free with its follicles that baseball considered such a ban, clearly as a means of keeping the real world at bay. A world in which, as with a lot of things, blacks like Dick Allen and his big sideburns set fashion trends. That ban never went into effect and Reggie Jackson, Charlie Finley and the Oakland A’s helped open the floodgates to facial hair in baseball. Hirsute ballplayers were everywhere in the 70s, confined themselves to mostly cop mustaches in the 80s, were almost non-existent in the 90s but have since come back to the extreme in the form of big, crazy and, truth be told, often ugly beards today.

But there have been holdouts. Marge Schott maintained a ban on facial hair for years. The Yankees did too. Now the Marlins. With Schott you can point to racism in her history and assume that that, as well as disdain for perceived counterculture values, drove things. With the Yankees and now the Marlins it’s more of a generalized image thing, I suspect. The desire to communicate clean-cut conservative values to their fanbase which, even if it isn’t racist, is certainly sending some sort of cultural message. And really, what other purpose could there be for such bans? It’s not like mustaches and beards get in the way of a swing. It’s all about communicating a conservative image.

It’s interesting reading. It should force a person to ask themselves what the Marlins are up to here and why.

Cole Hamels sues over after getting ripped off on $70,000 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show tickets

Cole Hamels
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Ballplayers: they’re just like us. Except for that part about paying 70 grand to go to fashion shows VIP-style.

It seems that Cole Hamels was one of those. He shelled out $70,000 to a company called Cornucopia Events in order to get VIP tickets to last year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. He was supposed to get a four-night stay in a luxury hotel, a limousine with champagne, access to exclusive restaurants and goodie bags. They didn’t deliver, however. Hamels got none of his swag, he alleges, and he and his wife were denied entry to the event.

That sucks and I hope that if his allegations are true that he is victorious in his lawsuit. That said, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to shell out $70K for VIP tickets to what is, essentially, the trunk show for a Columbus, Ohio-based mid-market underwear company. They get fancy models and TV coverage and stuff, but really: it’s a company which employs a lot of my neighbors and the parents of my kid’s friends here in Boringsville, USA, just off of Morse Road near the Wal-Mart and the freeway entrance. It’s not that glamorous.

Heck, from the I-270 on-ramp at Easton Way you can see into the Victoria’s Secret building when the lights are on. It’s a warehouse. And not even a pretty one. But I guess strobe lights and boobs and things make everything fancy.

The Jeff Francoeur-Nick Swisher summit meeting we’ve been waiting for

Jeff Francoeur
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Economist/author/Braves fan J.C. Bradbury made a fun observation today: with Jeff Francoeur joining Nick Swisher on the Braves roster, Atlanta now employs both a notable figure from “Moneyball” and the player who, perhaps more than anyone, personified anti-“Moneyball” circa 2005 and 2006 or so.

If you think, however, that this is some sort of clash of personalities, you’re quite mistaken. Indeed, from the moment it dawned on me that these two high-energy, enthusiastic and positive bros would be playing for the same team, I imagined their first meeting. It went down this morning and I was not disappointed:

Can’t wait for the 2016 Atlanta Bros season to get underway.