I blame Ashton Kutcher.
Thanks in part to "That 70's Show," big hair is back. And not just long hair, but coiffures that make pro athletes look like they're auditioning for an all-drag version of "Charlie's Angels."
I noticed this trend when Angels pitcher John Lackey appeared on television with flowing locks, hardly looking like the clean-cut Texas boy who had memorably shut down the Giants in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series. Then suddenly Shawn Green looked shaggier out there in right field for the Diamondbacks. At one point his former teammate Royce Clayton sported dreadlocks that would have made a Predator green(er) with envy.
The Weaver brothers, Leonardo and Donatello, let their blonde manes reach surf-tastic lengths. In the NFL, Troy Polamalu's hair made the cover of Sports Illustrated; now it seems no football team is complete without a player whose hair mockingly escapes the confines of his helmet. It's gotten to the point that a guy like J.D. Drew or Kenny Lofton looks like a modern-day Johnny Unitas ("Now, Johnny Unitas...there's a haircut you could set your watch to!" --Abe Simpson).
But this year's post-season baseball has brought the Hair Issue to critical mass. Magglio Ordonez has applied the playoff beard concept to the other side of his head and apparently Little Orphan Annie now plays right for the Tigers. Not to be undone, the Cardinals' Ronnie Belliard spent the one-day break between the ALCS and World Series liberating his Afro from its braids, channeling Oscar Gamble into the 21st century.
In a sport where an ironed hat bill and striped kneesocks are considered a fashion statement (not to mention the NFL's stringent on-field dress code), it's not surprising that athletes have tried to grow some individuality. But as with the NBA and tattoos, soon the non-conformists will become the norm.
But at least hair can be cut.