The compelling themes as we enter the 2015 MLB season were thought to already be in place. A-Rod returns from the longest PED suspension in MLB history and seeks Roids redemption with the Yankees in the post-Jeter era. Bud Selig’s legacy is now cemented in baseball lore. He’s no longer MLB’s savior or Pete Rose’s legacy controller. Rob Manfred begins his official reign as baseball kingpin with an open mind and a vision to diversify and expand the game internationally. Are the re-tooled Padres for real?
These are some of the questions that the average MLB fan ponders as we await next week’s first official pitch. At least they were until Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen “AKA” Baseball’s “Natty Dread” cut his long, luxurious locks and decided to sell his hair for charity last Wednesday.
McCutchen posted a video on YouTube saying “it was time for a new change” before showing the process. He chuckled as he watched them getting snipped one by one. The 28-year-old then had a few small designs shaved in and clapped his hands after the transformation was complete.
It was surely a blow to the dreadlock community and the visibility and mainstream acceptance McCutchen's hairstyle has awarded them.
In the piece, “The
The hairstyle was later brought into mainstream culture through the worldwide impact of reggae artist Bob Marley, whose powerful music prompted an international interest in the style, and the anti-establishment philosophy of Rastafarian culture.
Dreadlocks became increasingly popular. They can be an expression of deep religious or spiritual convictions, a manifestation of ethnic pride. They can make a political statement, or simply be a fashion choice.
On the more radical end, some believe that cutting your hair saps you of the strength gained by its growth. Dreadlocks are more than just a symbolic statement of disregard for physical appearance. Both Eastern and Western Traditions hold that mental and spiritual energies mainly exit the body through the top of the head and the hair. If the hair is knotted, they believe, the energy remains within the hair and the body, keeping a person more strong and healthy.
For instance, in the tale of Samson and Delilah, a man’s potency is directly linked to ‘the seven locks on his head’ (the biblical Sampson wore his hair in dreadlocks, and his unsurpassed strength was lost when Delilah cut off his seven locks of hair). According to Roman accounts, the Celts were described to have "hair like snakes." Germanic tribes, Greeks and the Vikings are all said to have worn dreadlocks too.
W'ell find out soon enough if McCutchen is a compromised player, but truth be told, he never had dreads because of religious or political orientations.
Over the past 15 years, everyday people and entertainers– from baseball players to hip-hop performers -- have rocked dreads mainly as a fashion statement. McCutchen brought a lot of attention to his stellar game with them. There was no doubt who was in centerfield for the Pirates, running like the wind, hair blowing as he closes in on a sinking line drive.
People have always been obsessed with hair and McCutchen’s joints were not the typical head dressing for a baseball player. In a way, the dreads categorized him as a leading face of a particular hair movement. In hip-hop it became guys like Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz.
The socio-political connotation associated with dreads (as a symbol of defiance, individuality and strength) endears athletes who wear them to an entire community of dread-wearers of all ethnicities who share a tribal and common bond through hair. Some aren’t even baseball fans.
McCutchen’s popularity and the cities connection with his hair created a mania.
Players have rocked dreads before. Remember Manny Ramirez’s Dominican version? When Manny was making a comeback from his PED suspension in 2013, he had to comply with the Rangers' minor league team policy and
McCutchen, however, was known for the hairstyle and his new, stylish cut is definitely an end of an era. While people will equate his peak as a Pirate and his 2013 MVP Award with his days as a dreadlock-rockin’, ball poppin’ baseball dynamo, this is also an opportunity for McCutchen to show growth and maturity. He’s elevating his social status from young superstar to boss veteran and from cartoon character to what he should be recognized as –a Top 5 player in the game.