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They're letting their hair down

Page 2 of 2 -- Which brings us to Terry Francona. Tito has made no attempt to set rules for Bluto and Friends in the Sox clubhouse.

"I don't see the relevance," said the skipper. "I care about what I care about. Nobody respects the game more than me. Our guys may look a little goofy, but they try hard to play the game right. If this were the Boy Scouts, maybe we'd try to get medals by having them cut their hair or tuck their shirts in. But this is their personality. Why take it away?

"I will say this, though," Francona added. "I looked at Bronson yesterday and I thought he'd lost his mind. It's the first time I ever looked in the mirror and was glad I was bald."

It's not strictly about the hair. More than most teams, the Sox have little regard for uniformity.

"We are sloppy," admitted Epstein. "Look at us during batting practice. Guys wearing six different kinds of hats. Four different uniform tops. We are a mess. That's the way we are. I hear it from other teams' scouts all the time, and when we are losing, people say that's one of the causes."

Here's another clue for you all: secretly, the Sox like allowing players to express themselves because of the natural contrast with the staid Yankees, a team dressed and polished in the image of Richard Nixon.

"The Yankees are all clean cut," said Millar. "They wear helmets during batting practice. When Schilling first came over here, he'd say, `Look at them. They look like pros.' Over here, we're not. You see guys during BP wearing sleeveless shirts or parachute tops, no hat, game hat, red-and-blue hat. We look like sloppy, no-discipline dirtbags.

"I know Schilling didn't like it at first, but I like it. We're like a family. We don't worry about that small stuff. Johnny Damon's hair has nothing to do with how well he can hit. So who cares? We're a bunch of clowns, but when we compete, we're a team. Never mind all those rules. It's hard enough for this team just to get on the 4 o'clock bus."

That's the Red Sox bus. The Magic Bus.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is dshaughnessy@globe.com. 

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