Down on the Farm: Get a haircut!
Never thought I'd see the day, but there I was last week yelling at the television, "Good grief man, get a haircut!"
The target of my outburst, who will never care in the least, was Twins pitcher Glen Perkins.
Maybe I was irked because he had just given up a home run to an aging member of the ever-losing Chicago Cubs. Maybe it is the close-ups on HD televison that forces you to see every stray hair glisten under the ballpark's kleig lights.
But it suddenly became apparent that Mr. Perkins, a 28-year-old native Minnesotan, has chosen to present himself to the nation's millions looking like a grub pile of willow brush.
In this age of delayed adulthood, age 28 is when many males start to think about emerging from their parents' basement and applying for a job at Taco Bell.
Mr. Perkins has been lucky. He can throw a baseball. He already has a job.
In a sign of increased devotion to preparation and training, Mr. Perkins mysteriously added five-miles-per hour to his fastball last year, a rare development which has already earned him millions.
Furthermore, after showing enough early-20s attitude to earn him several trips to the minor leagues, he found a niche as the Twins' "eighth-inning relief specialist," a modern description for middle reliever.
So there is Mr. Perkins on television, having attained the American dream. And yet, when the camera zooms in all I can see are the hair hurricanes swirling on the back of his neck.
Then, when the camera zooms in on his face as he peers in for the sign, Mr. Perkins displays a chaotic mid-summer weather map full of facial hair with intermittent hairless clear skies, several systems of hair formations spread randomly across Mr. Perkins' face.
An apparent low-front moves across Mr. Perkins' chin, creating cumulus clouds of fuzz and a 40-50 percent chance of scattered sour milk just south of the lower lip.
All of these unstable, tornadic systems could be cleaned up in few minutes with a little good sense and a $22 clipper.
We know Mr. Perkins has the time, since he only works in the eighth inning. He has the money, since he throws 95-miles-per-hour during the twenty-five minutes he works per week. So, what's the hold-up?
Mr. Perkins' co-worker, Mr. Mauer, works entire games when his myriad ailments allow, and yet he still has time to visit an actual barber in St. Paul every two weeks.
This could be because, to earn a little extra spending money, the industrious Mr. Mauer also works a second job as a shampoo salesman for Head and Shoulders. No neck-hair hurricanes allowed on that job!
It used to be that baseball bosses required a certain level of pride in one's appearance.
The New York Yankees, for all their evil ways, once made their players at least trim up a bit. But after Charley Finley of the Oakland A's paid his players bonuses to grow out their hair and beards back in 1972, the clean-shaven baseball ethic loosened. A's pitcher Rollie Fingers used the occasion to grow his trademark handlebar moustache, a feature which, in addition to a few hundred effective relief appearances, earned him a spot in baseball's Hall of Fame.
So, nothing against a little neatly-trimmed hair. Or, a lot of hair for that matter. If it is shampooed. Nothing against a little youthful rebellion, either. We could use more questioning youth with interests beyond video games.
No, when I see Mr. Perkins brushy appearance, I don't see rebellion. I don't see a member of the counter-culture taking a stand against bourgeoise repression. Instead, I see mere neglect.
Maybe Mr. Perkins and his bullpen buddies have decided not to get a haircut until the Twins break .500.
If so, they'll be getting brushier and brushier until Mr. Liriano and a few other Twins "starting pitching specialists" are sent to Seattle in exchange for a boat-load of salmon.
In the meantime Mr. Perkins, for the benefit of those of us subjected to every glistening stray hair blown up on our living room wall, shave your neck, at least!