The Man in the Big Yellow Hat

Bud Selig, that master innovator and reigning commissioner of Major League Baseball, is at it again. With all the fanfare that an announcement like this can muster, he introduced a cornerstone to his quest to boost player performance. Now before you start getting in a tizzy thinking that Mr. Selig is attempting to help the players find loopholes in the drug testing policy; I will assure you this is not the case. The brain trust in Major League Baseball headquarters has identified that one of the limiting factors to a player’s performance is their hat. Yes, you heard me right; the commissioner’s office thinks they can improve a player’s on field abilities by changing the hats that teams wear. I swear, you just can’t make this kind of stuff up. First we had the whole humidor experiment and now we are in the midst of a hat revolution. Traditionally baseball hats have been made of wool and have remained relatively unchanged through the years. That is until chief scientist Bud Selig put his powers to work for good and not evil.

The suggested change is to move to a polyester blend hat that will reduce shrinkage and whisk away moisture. I am sure every man in America is all for anything that proposes to reduce shrinkage regardless of what is shrinking. The moisture part is probably not such a big deal. I can unequivocally state that in all the years I played organized baseball I never once went to the coach or the sponsor to discuss how my hat was holding back my baseball progress. But in an era that brought us such technological advances such as test tube babies, artificial hearts, and microwave ovens; you just knew that there would have to be room for a new hat.

Of course game traditionalists are probably in an uproar. They were just barely getting over the fact that baseball changed to a six panel design for the hats back in 1954 and are just barely lamenting the fact that leather sweatbands were eliminated during the eighties. This though may just make their heads explode. If players today are allowed to use such technically advances like polyester blended hats, they will have an advantage over those who are wearing the older style wool hats. Unbeknownst to us baseball has been testing this new hat for a year and it was recently discussed by the Oakland Athletics equipment manager. He stated that he didn’t see anything wrong with the old hats but he nonetheless provided this newer model to his players last season. If we look at the A’s we’ll notice that they won the American League Western Division. Did they have an unfair advantage based upon their choice of headwear? We may never know. Perhaps we should include an asterisk next to their record so that we don’t unfairly compare records from the wool hat era to those with the new space age hybrid polymer version. And since these hats are only for fielders, does that give the pitcher an unfair advantage over the hitter? Where is the new lighter and cooler batting helmet? Could this be a turning point where pitching begins to dominate hitting? It will be interesting to see whether run production goes down this season and if we can contribute that to a change in hat design. Whatever happened to the “best interests of baseball” clause? When you start changing equipment, you are messing with the integrity of the game.

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