Tim Lincecum got his hair cut, and is wearing faux glasses so that he can transition from freak to certified public accountant.
Brent Burns shaved his you-could-hide-a-badger-in-it beard, presumably because he is finally healthy enough to play for the Sharks. Although the possibility of intolerable facial itch may also be a factor.
Oh, and Colin Kaepernick got new tats for his chest as part of his post-football plan to become a Maori warrior.
[RELATED: Kaepernick shows off newest tattoo]
This forces an important question to be asked: Are we in the Bay Area really that easy to amuse?
And the answer comes back in a torrent: Yes. We are.
This should not hearten us, given that there are still 325 days left in what is going to be a Bizarro World year for sports. Maybe we are fleeing the grisly face and soul of Lance Armstrong, a perfectly agreeable stance all things considered, or maybe we are already weary of what new cover story Manti Te’o’s people are preparing to foist upon us. Maybe Alex Rodriguez just makes us want to throw up, or the Lakers’ deterioration into a Bravo-level reality show isn’t keeping us sufficiently distracted.
But as a certified middle-aged crank, I remember the days when what an athlete looked like outraged our parents, thereby causing us to respond, “What difference does it make what they look like?” There were rare exceptions – Oscar Gamble’s massive Afro, or Bill Walton’s post-UCLA flaming acid-head look -- but mostly we were proud that we could look past such trivialities to whatever resided within. Until we found out what actually resided within, at which point we recoiled in horror. Even Mike Tyson’s face tattoo/cry for help didn’t engage us the way athlete’s superficialities do now.
Unlike the olden times, this is not a generational matter, either. Children of all ages in the nine-county area are seizing upon these cosmetic alterations as though they are cosmic statements of import, when what they are at their essence are a shave, a haircut, and some Etch-A-Sketch work. Neither Lincecum’s season, Burns’ season, nor Kaepernick’s next season have anything to do with how they look, or why they decided to look that way.
I would have heartily cheered if Lincecum had said when first asked about his new look, “That’s your first question? My hair? My freaking HAIR? Go back and start again with something better. I’ll be here. I promise not to leave.”
[BAGGARLY: Stronger, preppier Lincecum determined to rebound in 2013]
I would have danced with delight if Kaepernick had kept his shirt on after the new warrior bib. If his arm tats don’t matter (and they shouldn’t, as Whitley learned to his detriment), why does his chest matter any more than that?
And Burns’ beard? Just as important as when it didn’t exist. It doesn’t even rise to the level of affectation. It’s a minor grooming choice, and we’re supposed to be better than that. If he had taken a puck off the mush and needed to shave so the doctor could get to the wound, that would be interesting . . . momentarily.
But alas, we are not better than that. We apparently are not even close to better than that. We are apparently so easily distracted that a sideburn would set us into near-epileptic seizures. Frankly, our parents had a reason for noticing appearances in the old days – they didn’t know any better. We have far less of an excuse.
Or maybe I’m out of touch with the cutting edge of cool, again. I’m always one to consider that possibility as well.
But I can be persuaded. If Lincecum takes the mound on Day Two or Three wearing a business suit to go with his hair and specs, I’d think that was important. If Burns got into front-of-the-net scrums and used his beard to irritate opposing forwards with stubble burn, that would get my attention. And if the NFL ever goes shirts and skins, I’d be able to spot Kaepernick in a lineup of Mannings and Bradys, Wilsons and Griffin IIIs. Hell, wear a fez and Aladdin shoes for all I care, fellas. You’re only young once. Live it up.
But remember when you’re sick of the topic of your new look in three weeks because people keep asking you about it, just remember that you’re the ones who baited the hook. Actions have consequences, even if it’s just relentless irritation from people who forgot to look past appearances.