A published report revealed that the White Sox told one of their pitchers that his beard was starting to look too scruffy.
The date. June 2, 2014.
Seriously: Not June 2, 1954.
Wasn't this battle fought and won when students of the '60s graduated into being employees of the '70s?
The anti-war, anti-segregation, anti-establishment generation grew hair long and lived long enough to tell about it a half-century later.
Grooming codes were relaxed. Dress codes were relaxed. Lifestyle codes were relaxed.
The risqué theatrical production "Hair" became a hit. Razor-blade stocks plunged. Barbershops cut staff as often as scalps.
The times they were a-changin' so rapidly that the occasional bra burned because underwear became optional.
So now, all these decades later, White Sox pitcher Chris Sale received a formal request to trim his beard.
The problem is that one man's unkempt is another man's kempt.
Makes you wonder whether J. Edgar Hoover returned to life as the Sox' director of human resources.
Next the Sox might take the field in uniforms that feature neckties, dress suits and fedoras.
The sons and grandsons of the sons of the '60s are walking around the corporate offices of Silicon Valley in sandals, but a baseball player is told he has to trim his facial hedges.
What century are we living in anyway?
Sale's beard reportedly became an issue even though countless hairy creatures recently played on World Series winners. He must have been pitching too well for the Sox' liking.
That's the irony of all this: Sale, straggly beard and all, has become one of the major leagues' best pitchers.
If the White Sox were intent on winning anything this season they would tell Sale that if he wants he should go to the mound in a tutu, tank top and whiskers dangling to his toes.
The Sox also should insist that every pitcher on the staff grow a shaggy beard, lose weight to be as skinny as Sale and put lifts in his spikes to stand as tall as him.
Fortunately for the Sox, Chris Sale has an accommodating nature. Word is that he hasn't shaken off a sign from his catcher all season.
Sale didn't shake off the Sox, either. He responded to their demand by shaving the entire beard and going with only a nicely landscaped mustache.
It would have been interesting to see where the dust settled if Sale were so attached to the beard -- and it to him -- that he refused to tidy it up.
A confrontation would have been worth the price of admission or even worth the soaring cost of a boutique shave: The team that can't live with a shaggy beard vs. the player the team can't live without.
We're talking the potential for one hairy mess, but the matter was settled peacefully when Sale went beyond what was asked.
Another strange aspect to the episode is that Sox general manager Rick Hahn was quoted as saying that Robin Ventura ordered Sale's facial cleanup. You know, as if the Sox' field manager doesn't have more to worry about than which of his players shaves what.
The night the Sale story made the Internet the Sox made 3 errors leading to 5 unearned runs in a 5-2 loss to the Dodgers.
The Sox are on course to being as statistically bad defensively as they were last year, when they were awfully awful.
But Ventura found time to order Chris Sale to attend to his beard as if doing so would make Dayan Viciedo a better outfielder.
It's clearly time to break out the tie-dyed T-shirts and protest placards as Hair War II threatens to rear its fuzzy face.
Yes, even in the 21st century.