The New York Yankees, as strange as it might sound, are trying to court millennials. With their attendance in decline and revenues down, the Yanks think that giving the under-35 crowd more places to hang in the stadium and boosting their social-media voice might make the team a more alluring ticket in The Big Apple.
The on-field product these days isn’t too bad. While it doesn’t have big-name superstars like A-Rod and Derek Jeter, the rebuilding Yankees are looking surprisingly like a playoff team. Aaron Judge has emerged as the team’s breakout star. His 15 homers are tied for the most in baseball. The Yankees even sectioned off a part of the stadium this week in his honor and called it The Judge’s Chamber. It’s cute. And the Yankees don’t usually do cute.
At the intersection of these two things is one very important idea: The Yankees’ brand, for the most part, is old and traditional. Their 25-year-old slugger is not. Nor are the other young guys that the Yankees have coming next — especially not outfield prospect Clint Frazier.
If the Yankees want to liven things up, if they want to show millennials they’re not those stodgy, old, boring Yankees their grandpa watches, then here’s an idea: Let Aaron Judge grow a beard. Or grow out his hair. Or wear some sideburn that would make Don Mattingly jealous. It’s the subject of this week’s Open Mike — and I’m 1,000 percent behind it.
The Yankees don’t allow these things. Because their hair policy is silly. If you come to the Yankees with a beard or long hair, you gotta shave that. That’s what happened to Frazier this spring when his long red hair became a “distraction.” Hold up, you can’t be the team that wants to be cooler for millennials while also saying beards and long hair somehow make someone less professional. Well, you can, but they won’t take you seriously.
Likewise, if Judge wants to see how much juice he’s really built up with the Yankees so far, he can take it upon himself to challenge the notion that a beard or long hair somehow makes him less fit to do his job (aka hit big ol’ dingers). Put down the razor, Aaron, and see what grows.
To be honest, I don’t even know if Judge can or wants to grow facial hair. We’ve only ever seen him clean-shaven, even back when he was in college. But Judge could earn so much cred for challenging the Yankees’ dumb policy — in New York, from baseball fans in other cities, on social media, everywhere.
Maybe that’s what it would take to get more millennials out to Yankees game. A 25-year-old hot-shot star openly challenging 40 years of tradition.
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