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Marlins' facial hair policy keeps with team mentality

MLB.com @TracyRingolsby

When new Marlins manager Don Mattingly took the field for the first pitchers/catchers workout of the spring last week, that mustache which had adorned his upper lip with the Yankees, as a player and coach, was missing.

Just like when Dee Gordon checks in for the first full-squad workout on Tuesday, the goatee he was sporting during Marlins FanFest on Saturday will be missing.

When new Marlins manager Don Mattingly took the field for the first pitchers/catchers workout of the spring last week, that mustache which had adorned his upper lip with the Yankees, as a player and coach, was missing.

Just like when Dee Gordon checks in for the first full-squad workout on Tuesday, the goatee he was sporting during Marlins FanFest on Saturday will be missing.

There is a new look in Miami.

The Marlins are going to be clean-shaven.

No more beards. No more mustaches. No more goatees. No more shaggy hair hanging over the collar.

Is that going to translate into a lot more victories?

Not necessarily. But it can't hurt.

Over the years, the Marlins have juggled their rules on facial hair. The past four years, it's gone from beards being allowed in 2012 to goatees in '13 to any type of facial hair a player desired in 2014-15. There was a feeling of a need for the players to have a freedom to express themselves.

Nice idea. But it didn't help.

At least it didn't help attain success on the field.

Four consecutive losing seasons, three managers and two general managers, Mike Hill going from GM to president of baseball operations and Dan Jennings going from GM to manager to let go.

When the expansion Rockies debuted in 1993, along with the Marlins, Colorado manager Don Baylor had a strict set of guidelines. Rockies players wore sport coats and ties on travel days.

"People think we are a bunch of misfits," said Baylor. "We don't need to feed that idea. When we walk through an airport, when we walk into a hotel lobby, we can have a professional appearance. It's not that hard."

Rockies players were required to be lined up on the top step of the dugout for the national anthem each game.

"It is about being a part of a team," Baylor said.

In their third year of existence, the Rockies, with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, battled for the National League West title, ultimately finishing second to the Dodgers, but claiming the first NL Wild Card berth in Major League history and advancing to the postseason faster than any previous expansion team.

Was it because they were in harmony on the anthem?

Mainly, it was about having a team that took advantage of the hitting-friendly environment of Coors Field, intimidating visiting teams because of the size of the outfield and the carry of the batted ball at altitude. But there also was that team mentality that was ingrained with things like coats and ties, and anthem sing-a-longs.

Michael Cuddyer has reflected back on his struggles when he first got to the big leagues with the Twins, and then he received a wakeup call. Slumping and sulking, one of Minnesota's veteran members asked Cuddyer why he felt he was so important.

"It was," Cuddyer remembers, "about the team, not the individual. It was about each guy doing his small part. Once I realized that, it was a lot easier to play the game. You were always cheering on your teammates. You didn't dwell on what you did or didn't do."

Now that's not to say being clean-shaven is going to allow the Marlins to clean up. It won't, however, hurt. It's a subtle message to each player that they are equal, not better, than each teammate.

It's about not sweating the little things, like who has the coolest mustache or gruffest beard. It's about being a part of a team, and each day helping each teammate be the best he can be.

And the Marlins do have the talent to be a lot better team than the one that has averaged 70 victories and 92 losses the past four years; has managed a winning season in only six of 23 years of existence.

With the addition of lefty Wei-Yin Chen, they have a rotation that will also benefit from the return of Jose Fernandez, and is deep enough that Edwin Jackson will likely be in the No. 5 slot.

They have two dominant late-inning relievers with Carter Capps setting up A.J. Ramos, or vice versa.

They have a lineup that can surprise with the likes of Gordon and Christian Yelich at the top, and a healthy Giancarlo Stanton and emerging Justin Bour in the middle.

They have Martin Prado, Ichiro Suzuki and Jeff Mathis to provide veteran stability in challenging times.

There is a collection of impressive parts. The challenge is getting them to fit together as a team.

The Marlins are looking for a clean-shaven start in 2016.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miami Marlins