LAFAYETTE — Let’s talk about hair, particularly as it relates to the personality of Ragin’ Cajuns baseball teams.
The 2000 College World Series team proved that blondes really do have more fun when a crew of young men with frosted tips and bleached locks upended a historically great South Carolina team to punch their ticket to Omaha.
The 58-win grinders of 2014 were a more rugged bunch. With their burly beards, they would’ve likely been mistaken for lumberjacks if they weren’t so busy jacking baseballs out of the park in what was a historically great season of their own.
Now we have another entry in the great follicle history of Cajuns baseball. It’s a more subdued one, though. No ostentatious dyes or tangled masses of facial hair this time around.
You might not have even noticed it this weekend. Heck, I didn’t. It took the keen eyes of scoreboard operator Terry Thibodeaux, long practiced in the art of intently watching for strike calls from umpires, to figure this one out.
Terry remarked on Stefan Trosclair’s new haircut, his floppy locks no longer flowing out from behind his batting helmet. Then Terry looked around and noticed a distinct pattern. Nobody’s hair was visibly poking out from under their headgear.
So, being the hard-hitting journalist I pretend to be, I asked the important question to the newly faded Cajun: Did y’all all get matching haircuts, or have I been transplanted back to boot camp?
Yes, Trosclair said. As of Saturday, everyone on the team had gone for the clean-cut and classic fade.
The last to fall in line was sophomore pitcher Wyatt Marks — which, if we’re being honest, is understandable, because the man’s flow was on point.
“We finally got Wyatt to get his today; he was the last one,” Trosclair said. “He cares about his hair a little too much.”
Teammate Evan Guillory was a little more forgiving for the hard decision Marks had to make.
“I figured he would do it eventually, because he’s a team player,” Guillory said. “But he loves his hair, so it took a while to convince him.”
The fade itself is a great selection for this team in particular. It’s a simple, no-nonsense, utilitarian haircut. There’s nothing flashy about a good fade, but there’s a sense of uniformity to it that seems to jive with a team effort.
That’s exactly how the Cajuns arrived in their current situation. They were rarely flashy as they put together a 37-win season that culminated with an unlikely Sun Belt championship Saturday.
Outside of a few dramatic moments, like Trosclair’s walk-off double that ended Friday night’s extra-inning win or Kyle Clement’s 11th-inning home run against South Alabama that started a six-game winning streak to close the regular season, the Cajuns were largely bland as they went about their business this year.
They pitched well and, after some early-season struggles, they played solid defense behind that pitching. They hit just enough to win, and they required just about everybody to do that.
Look at the league statistical leaders. The Cajuns, champions of the Sun Belt, have one player ranked in the top 10 in batting average (Clement, .366), one in runs (Trosclair, 42), one in doubles (Nick Thurman, 15) and one in home runs (Joe Robbins, nine). They have nobody in the top 10 in hits or RBIs.
Nobody put together a flashy individual season. The Cajuns of 2016, so far, have been a sum of their parts. They have truly turned team baseball into a championship, and they are aiming to continue doing so in the weeks to come.
They will do so with their modest haircuts that fit their style of play.
The one catch is this: For the businesslike ’do to catch on like the bleached hair and strapping beards of yesteryear, the Cajuns are going to have to win like those teams, too.