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Captaincrooked

While watching Vallejo native C.C. Sabathia and the Cleveland Indians hand the flailing San Francisco Giants their 12th loss in 14 games Friday, something equally as disturbing as my team’s incompetence stood out: Sabathia’s hat.With its brim cocked radically to the side, Sabathia’s crooked-hat-wearing style has no place on a baseball field.”Everyone on my high school team did it,” Sabathia said in a May 23, 2004 article by ESPN’s Peter Gammons, “and it became a good-luck thing.”OK. That’s a reasonable explanation, I guess. But it still looks horribly out of place. And high school is over for the 24-year-old pitcher. Now he is a professional. Normally, professionals try to look that way – not like a hip high school kid following a fashion trend.Furthermore, baseball is a team sport, and teams wear uniforms. The hat has always been a part of the uniform. According to The American Heritage Dictionary, a uniform is, “a distinctive outfit intended to identify those who wear it as a member of a specific group.”But Sabathia is not the only one who wears his cap cocked to the side. The trend seems to be spreading, or has already spread, throughout the league. While Sabathia is probably the most notable and drastic crooked-hat-wearer, other big leaguers do it, too. Like fellow Indians Coco Crisp and Brandon Phillips, as well as Carl Everett of the White Sox, Torii Hunter of the Twins, Pokey Reese of the Mariners and the Marlins’ Juan Pierre and Dontrell Willis. There are others. Maybe Sabathia and others would be a better fit in a non-team sport, where they could look as unique as they please. But this column is not intended to bash Sabathia’s abilities as a baseball player or his character as a person. The 6-foot-7-inch, 290-pound left-hander – picked 20th overall in the 1998 draft and now earning a healthy wage of $5,250,000 a year – is an exceptional pitcher, with a 98 mph fastball and a curve that appears to drop off a table. He’s probably a good guy, too.Someone just needs to tell him to point the bill of his cap forward, like all the other baseball players have for more than a century before him. I’m fairly certain that any baseball coach I’ve ever had would have slapped any crooked hat right off the head of its wearer, for good reason. According to the 2004 Gammons article mentioned earlier, the Toronto Blue Jays told second baseman Orlando (O-Dog) Hudson that he cannot wear his hat cocked to the side. So he doesn’t. Otherwise, he would.Good for the Blue Jays for making Hudson wear the hat the way it was intended to be worn. After all, the Blue Jays do employ him. And who wants a goofy-looking employee representing them?”Pokey (Reese) was all over me about it,” Hudson said. “But they tell me I have to wear it straight on. We wore it that other way in little league, high school. It’s not disrespect, it’s a love of how much fun we have playing baseball.” If only all major league alumni knew how much more fun their baseball careers would have been if they were tuned-in to fashionable trends, such as wearing one’s hat like a clown.Sylas Wright is the Sierra Sun sports editor. Reach him at swright@sierrasun.com.


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