Don't get distracted by all the quizzing, quotes and controversy about the bull pen telephone conversations going terribly awry for Tony LaRussa last night during the fifth game of the World Series. Nevermind the phantom hit and run involving Albert Pujols, whether he did give himself the hit and run or not.
All that's peanuts compared with the larger story I picked up during the game that really needs to be spotlighted. The story is all the facial hair.
Beards, beards, and more beards. They were coming out from the on-deck circles, from out in the bullpens, and off the benches. Here's a short list of the guys in last night's game sporting more or less full beards: Cris Carpenter, Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton, Something Punto (short guy) Neftali Feliz, Mitch Moreland, Elvis Andrus, C.J. Wilson, both late-inning center-fielders for both teams. Ten guys--more than half of those in the game--looking like Brian Wilson, star pitcher from last year's World Series, and/or Abe Lincoln, and/or Jeff Bridgeman in that movie that came out recently where he's an old man cowboy type.
I'm sure I'm forgetting several others. Certainly most of the bullpen pitchers I saw sported a full one, including the Cardinals' Lance Lin, the pitcher who wasn't supposed to pitch but did. The guy with the absurd spelling of his name whom they call Scrabble had one also. You can't be a relief pitcher in the major leagues without facial hair.
Then there were the guys without the full beards who sported at least some grizzle. They included Nellie Cruz, Yadomir (sp.) Molina, Albert Pujols and Allen Craig. That's sixteen. Then there were the two top managers of the Rangers sporting mustaches, Ron Washington and Mike Maddux. That's eigtheen. If I knew any of the other guys on the benches, I could name you at least 10 more who had some facial hair. One who leaps to mind is Derrick Holland, who won Game 4 and has a half-grown-in stache you often seen on a 14 year old boy hoping to look older and more macho than he is. That's nineteen.
So what's with the other guys, grossly outnumbered, who shaved before the game yesterday? Those are the ones I'm really wondering about: Ian Kinsler, Andrian Beltre, Daniel Murphy, and some other guys such as Cardinal manager Tony LaPhoneGlitch. It's not very interesting to write a lot about guys who are clean shaven so I'll end this paragraph now.
The winner of all of this, in my view, has to be Molina. He had some facial hair but differentiated himself from all others with two neck tattoos. Had a Mike Tyson feel to it.