A CHAIN REACTION
Baseball is awash with players who bring the bling and like to flash their jewels
From the eminently tacky to the garish, today?s bejeweled baseball players suggest that we live in rather immodest times. Now that I?ve opened up the judgment dam, let me proceed. Today?s players brandish their jewelry like a lion bares his teeth, minus the carnage that usually follows, unless that sharp gold necklace should one day lasso a pitcher violently off the mound as it whips around his neck after he lets loose a hellacious 97mph fastball. Baseball fans shouldn?t be exposed to the macabre sight of a headless corpse laying near the mound after he has been wrangled like cattle by his own bling. Usually, when style supplants substance, then it?s not long before things go wrong.
Styles have a shelf life for a reason: after years of reflecting on the things we put on our fleshy masses, we ultimately come to the realization that we can do better. Alas, a new style is born, soon to grow just as tiresome as the one it replaced. Let?s not deny that acceptance through appearance is a running theme throughout our lives and baseball players across the fruited plains have taken to wearing layers of shiny gems on their person in recent years. If you think it?s just you who has noticed the proliferation of neck ornaments dangling from the cervicis of big leaguers, I assure you it?s not ? SewerBall is right there with you to baste in all things inconsequential. I am that lonely. But seriously, if the current trend continues unabated, we should be seeing ball players looking a fair bit like Mr. T in just about under twenty years, if my calculations are correct.
It would seem on the surface that outfitting yourself with multiple chains draped around the neck is a lousy way of improving your pitching or in any way getting that much-needed added edge on your competition, but it may get girls to stare at you. Sure that shiny gold necklace may seem firmly and safely tucked away underneath the neckline of the jersey, but when the body goes into the kind of violent motion required to launch a ball in excess of 90mph, that necklace will become uncontrollably liberated from its dri-fit stiched trappings and hurled about chaotically within perilous proximity of the face as it is set in motion. I?d hate to see David Ortiz pull a neck muscle after a hard swing when the excess weight of his jewelry yanks him abruptly in a different direction. No I wouldn?t. In any event, baseball players? faces and their frenetically flying jewelry attached to their bodies have been on a collision course now for quite some time and one of these years I fear that we will see an accident so freakish and unspeakable that only SewerBall will dare to cover it. This is one reason why UFC fighters don?t wear jewelry in the octagon.
So it?s hard to discern a motive for the creeping jewelry on today?s baseball player. Is it sex appeal, the quest for cool, or an expression of rebelliousness ? I don?t know, but it does ensure that when they strut their chiseled bodies around the field, some female fan is likely to notice. And who can blame them ? I mean, style does have a way of trumping achievement on occasion and players can sure receive their share of attention for having showbiz personalities. So, in this sense, an expensive gold necklace can be bait for getting laid.
Ultimately, the players? reasons will vary: Christians will give praise to Christ by sporting a crucifix; players who are players ? that is, still in play ? like having their sexy bling on full display, whether on the field or on a dance floor; players who grew up poor flaunt it as a sign they?ve made it; pure athletes seeking a boost in energy, will wear a Phiten necklace ? in what seems like pure bullpoop, Phiten advertises that its necklaces help stabilize the flow of energy in the bodies of players who wear their fashionably sporty necklaces. Whatever Phiten may say, they do make cool necklaces, which are a more subdued type of necklace ? the cloth type ? for much less showy men.
Many players, especially Latin players, assert their deep Christian faith and spirituality by donning a crucifix or tattooing one on their forearm. Or maybe they?re just taunting ISIS. Either way, we see many born-again Christians proudly bearing the cross on their necks too. At first blush, Brett Lawrie does not strike me as a devout practitioner of his faith or as someone who has spent much time in a monastery, but, sure enough, he wears a big cross.
But change is a constant and, when viewed through the prism of three decades of change, it mounts and becomes harder to not notice. I just hope that tomorrow?s generation of baseball players don?t start wearing mascara ? eye black excluded. The point is that some guys just try too hard, which is what can make fashion very unfashionable. Let?s face it: the cool people are cool precisely because they have no idea they are. The mind wonders why Willie Mays didn?t need all those chains around his neck to hit the crap out of a baseball. That notwithstanding, lots has changed in the roughly thirty years I?ve been watching baseball. Gone today are the ?80s-style stirrups, which have since been replaced by long-panted men whose hem runs not only below the ankle but in some cases actually wraps under the heels of their cleats. I?m not kidding. It would invite snorting with derision, but some of the game?s top players partake and are nonetheless able to perform at elite levels, including guys like Miguel Cabrera and Jose Bautista.
Clothing aside, for a good decade now and counting, a legion of players? arms have been festooned with decorative ink, which was unthinkable in the more dignified decade of the ?80s. Oil Can Boyd was no prude, but somehow he didn?t need to be fully sleeved to get through a respectable career, even if he has spent some time in his post-career at his local mall?s Piercing Pagoda.
The whole tattoo epidemic started innocuously enough with bad dudes getting a subtle tat on their forearm or bicep at first, but tats have now gradually migrated from the arm to the neck area, which does not auger well for players who plan to launch a career in real estate when their playing days end. Not only that, but tats have spread from isolated markings to huge blots of ink covering larger and larger swaths of players? skin.
All this makes the hippy-inspired ?70s ? when, for the first time ever, players were growing facial hair and long tresses ? quite tame. Today, beards ? even full, bushy ones ? have made a comeback, when about the only bearded player I can remember from the ?80s seems to be Jeff Reardon. Okay, add Bruce Sutter too. But even the resurgence of beards in Major League Baseball has a distinctly 21st-century twist in that many are overly manicured. Witness Brian Wilson.
I guess, as a culture, we like to express ourselves through all kinds of outward profestations, even if some of those profestations are etched permanently into skin or dangle uncontrollably in the form of shiny metal trinkets. However, as annoying as these and other manifestations of self may be, I have an enduring and unconditional love for baseball and, by extension, the players who play it. So I will not turn away, but it would sure do my baseball senses good to see some of these ghastly styles euthanized. I?m keeping my fingers and toes crossed.