What if Yankees players really did have to 'earn their pinstripes'?
The Yankees' home uniform -- that crisp white uni topped with navy blue pinstripes -- is up there with blue jeans and leather jackets as quintessential pieces of American style. Kids dream of one day being handed that pinstriped top-and-bottom-set the day they join the Yankees.
What if, on the first day players reported to Yankees camp, they were handed blank uniforms and had to go out and earn those pinstripes, slowly working their way up to a full, traditional Yankees uniform?
It's not a crazy idea -- at least on the surface. After all, it's something Yankees fans, media members and sports talk radio-types love to talk about.
"Earn your pinstripes," one person screams as Giancarlo Stanton steps in. "Do anything," another chimes in.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) April 19, 2018
The phrase, “earn your pinstripes” has become a shorthand way of saying that a player must do the necessary work, trim the requisite sideburns and show up in the required number of big games to truly become a Yankee.
So, what if we stopped talking about it and actually started making them do it? Every time the Yankees fanbase acknowledged that a player did something worthy of the team -- be it a game-winning home run, a big defensive stop, an icy Derek Jeter-esque stare in the late innings -- they'd earn one of those highly sought after deep blue stripes.
Can you even imagine the kind of debate fans would have every time one was handed out or, heaven forbid, not? The kind of added chaos this could bring to the sports world would be enough to keep Stephen A. Smith in business for a long, long time.
It wouldn't even be the first time we've seen this idea used in pro sports. Willie Stargell awarded stars to his teammates' caps in the 1970s after they performed feats he found worthwhile.
Kent Tekulve's cap. The thin man earned some serious Stargell Stars, baby. pic.twitter.com/brRFxJpVVv— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) April 16, 2016
The Ohio State Buckeyes add buckeye stickers to the players' helmets after big games. It's an established thing. Considering that Yankees fans already talk about it, wouldn't it be fun to actually do it?
I imagine this would be a good benchmark for how the system would work:
Sure, some questions would need to be answered. Namely, does the current roster get grandfathered in with a full set of stripes? Does an arbiter look back at their career and determine how many they deserve? Do they all start over with zero?
And who, exactly, should be this final judge of this True Yankeedom? Manager Aaron Boone? General Manager Brian Cashman? Bald Vinny, the superfan at the head of the Yankee Stadium Bleacher Creatures?
The Yankees adore ceremony. Just imagine the madness of a nearly daily painting on of pinstripes that will let the fans go crazy and the players beam, knowing they are slowly but officially working their way into the lore of Yankeedom.
Now, what if we didn't imagine it, but did it?
Michael Clair writes for MLB.com. He spends a lot of time thinking about walk-up music and believes stirrup socks are an integral part of every formal outfit.