Retro Relapse: Fix Your Fucking Hat

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2015.

I’ve watched baseball for a long time – 36 years to be exact. Now while I might not have understood it as an infant, I was certainly in the room when my grandma was watching the Chicago Cubs when I was that age. I was brought up a sports fan and loved baseball as far back as I can remember: collecting baseball cards and all the mini batting helmets and team ICEE cups from my local K-Mart.

Growing up, I also listened to a lot of hip-hop, heavy metal and punk rock. I embraced the whole counterculture thing and always strived to be an individual against the establishment, even though I didn’t realize I was conforming to the trendiness of nonconformity. I was a kid, it’s what kids do before they grow up and experience life and reality. And yes, I still like those things but I’ve become more of an individual as I’ve gotten older and understood what that actually means. Or I’m just older and stopped giving a fuck so much.

But as I got older, I had to join the workforce. As a teenager, I wasn’t satisfied with my allowance and got a job because I wanted to buy shit. In fact, I had several jobs in my teens and early twenties. Many of those jobs came with wearing a uniform. Sure, I loved the jobs that didn’t require a uniform but we don’t always have that luxury when it comes to having to make money. I’d wear my ugly khakis and my collared shirts and sometimes a hat with my employer’s logo on it. It comes with the job and that is the image the companies who paid my salary wanted to convey. Whether I liked it or not, I was a member of a team and I had to be a part of that team if I was going to work there.

In Major League Baseball, like all professional sports, uniforms are required. Being a paid player in the MLB means that you have to wear the uniforms provided by your employer. Some teams have strict rules, other teams are a bit more relaxed. For instance, the New York Yankees require you to shave and you cannot have your name on your jersey. Other teams let you have bodacious beards and they print your name on your back so the world can see who you are when you make an amazing play or when you fuck up on the field.

A part of the uniform in Major League Baseball is wearing your team’s cap. Why do you think they call them “baseball caps”? It’s because the hat style was invented for baseball players way back in the 1800s. It is not only a required part of the uniform in baseball but it serves a function, which is the real reason why it became the norm in the sport. That function is to block the sun out of the player’s eyes while on the field.

Culturally, baseball caps have evolved and become the badge of honor for players on their various teams. As sports breed tribalism, the logo and the cap is the flag of that tribe. It should be respected and cherished by those who wear it and those who follow the team. Hell, it should be respected by the opponents and rivals of each team, as it is a part of the sport’s history and heritage that has provided everyone on that field with a place to ply their trade.

Besides, there aren’t very many jobs out there better than being a Major League Baseball player. That alone should be enough for these players to want to honor the tradition and heritage of this great sport. But many players today, don’t.

From Fernando Rodney to Michael Pineda to Felix Hernandez to my Chicago Cubs’ Pedro Strop and others, they prefer to wear their hats crooked. While they may think they look cool and are taking fashion liberties in expressing their individuality, they look like assholes and are just following a crappy trend.

Someone who came from being a kid with nothing who now has millions, still looks like a child. Fernando Rodney is 38 years-old and he looks like a teenage clown with an old man’s face. It looks out of place and bizarre. The whole thing is just weird. The fact that their teammates don’t slap them in the back of the head is baffling to me.

Whether or not they think they’re rock stars or not is a moot point. The fact remains that they are employees and they have a uniform that should be worn correctly with pride. Some could point to these players being Latino and saying it is part of their culture. Regardless, they are still uniformed employees of a company and they are putting their own touch on something that is supposed to be held to a higher standard.

As a member of a team, you are just that – a member of a team. Sure, teams are made up of individuals but the individual should never put the spotlight on themselves over the team. Deliberately wearing a uniform incorrectly states that the player really doesn’t give a shit about the tradition, heritage or pride of the team that they play for.

Don’t even get me started on the guys who wear their Mr. T starter kits over their jerseys. We know you’re rich asshole, now put your big gold chains away and throw the fucking ball.

But staying on point here, the hats serve a function. If it is worn incorrectly, it can’t correctly serve that function. I can’t necessarily say that wearing a crooked hat has cost a team a game but it does present the possibility of it being a disadvantage.

The baseball cap is gear and a player should never wear gear incorrectly. They wouldn’t put their protective cup on crooked would they? They wouldn’t deliberately put their shoes on the wrong feet, right? I mean, maybe they would if they wanted to follow a trend and show their uniqueness.

Besides, when does it stop? How far does a player have to twist their cap before a team says “no”? In a few years, we may have players other than catchers wearing backwards hats or even turning them inside out like rally caps. Where is the line drawn here?

Lastly, I suffer from a bit of OCD. It was much worse as a child but it still exists. Whenever I see one of these self-obsessed idiots wearing a crooked cap, it sends me into a frenzy. How does it not drive them crazy? I guess looking cool (or like a clown) is more important than having functional gear and looking like a proud member of the team that pays you millions.