by The Common Man
The success of Carl Pavano has been one of the great stories for the Minnesota Twins this season. Even if he is pitching over his head, and is nowhere near the hurler that Francisco Liriano has been, Pavano’s results are impossible to malign. And he seems to have generated a great following in the clubhouse as well, where his excellent mustache (seen right), which is clearly the secret to his resurgence, has inspired other Twins to not-so-successfully venture into the world of facial hair.
Take, for instance, Scott Baker:
Prior to Pavano’s success, Baker looked like a twelve-year old cherub on the mound, doing a competent Brad Radke impersonation every 5 days. Now, thanks to the influence of Pavano’s awesome ‘stache, Baker looks like a twelve-year old cherub who got ahold of some cat hair, a glue stick, and a Sharpie. Li’l Nicky Punto, not to be outdone, started growing his own mustache, seen below (look hard under the dirt on his upper lip).
Jason Kubel, Nick Blackburn, Anthony Slama, and Matt Guerrier have also fallen victim to its sweet allure. Even The Common Man is growing a goatee in support.
But while Mustache Power is generally a good thing, it can also be profoundly disturbing. A few months ago, The Common Man pieced together his All-Mustache Team, a collection of facial hair so impressive it could not help but win the World Series if it were ever united. But the facial hair fails of Baker and Punto have The Common Man thinking that some players just should not be allowed to sport fur on their faces. So he has created the Anti-Mustache All Star Team, the best argument George Steinbrenner could ever have had to keep his club free of Flavor Savers. Collectively, the facial hair on this squad would rival the Astros for their ineptitude.
Catcher: Dioner Navarro
Navarro’s a terrible player to begin with, having squandered his initial promise, and finally being shipped to Durham, where his abomination of a beard can do the Rays no further harm. Navarro’s is the ManBearPig of beards, as it can’t decide exactly what it wants to be. It starts down from his sideburns as manly stubble and scruff. But when it gets to his chin, Navarro has a clump of hair jutting downward like the bottom half of a goatee. This nub of beard, however, seems to be isolated just to the bottom of his chin, on the precipice of falling off his face, clinging for dear life. Much like Navarro is doing with his career right now, actually.
First base: Jeff Bagwell
Bagwell may have been one of the greatest first basemen in league history, but he was one of history’s worst beard-abusers. It’s obvious the man can grow a quality goatee; indeed, he has on several occasions. But sometimes Bags goes a little mountain man on his chin, letting his goatee dangle in the breeze. Without some landscaping, it grows wild, stringy, and tangled. Even cats have to be brushed, matted, and shaved to get the snarls out, Jeff. Take a hint. Ironically, the rest of his face is extremely well kept, leading The Common Man to wonder whether Bagwell’s myriad of shoulder injuries simply kept him from being able to reach that part of his face with a blade.
Second base: Scott Spezio
Look, don’t pretend that the soul patch isn’t the douchiest variety of facial hair available. There just isn’t any argument. Chris Gaines had one, for Christ’s sake! It looks so pretentious and vain, even when you don’t do anything to it. But Spezio, ever the contrarian, had to take it further, dying his soul patch to match the color of whatever team he played for. For the Cardinals and Angels? Red. For the A’s? Green. Maybe his shame is what finally drove him to self-destruct his way out of Major League Baseball. Spezio’s currently playing for the Newark Bears. No word on whether the soul patch is now blue.
Third base: Edgar Martinez
Look, no one is a bigger Edgar fan than The Common Man. He got a late start because the Mariners brass of the late ‘80s were idiots and was a terribly underrated hitter for much of his career. He may not ever get into the Hall of Fame, but he’s the best Designated Hitter in baseball history by far. But in his early days, Edgar half-heartedly gave in to another mustache craze. Look at it just sitting there on his upper lip, lifeless. There’s no care going into maintaining that mustache. Perking it up. Making it look good for the ladies. Edgar treated his mustache like he treated his defense, with indifference and neglect.
Shortstop: Alvaro Espinoza
The Common Man says this reluctantly because he has met Alvaro Espinoza, and has even taken his son to Best Buy to buy a new computer (long story). But look, Alvaro Espinoza was not a handsome ballplayer. He probably needed a mustache. And TCM is glad to see that Espi definitely was taking care of the ‘stache, grooming it, straightening it, probably naming it. But that doesn’t change the fact that Alvaro Espinoza’s mustache makes it look like the shortstop has a second set of eyebrows over his upper lip. Maybe it’s that it’s manicured to curve slightly, rather than droop. Maybe it’s the blank space right in the middle that splits it into two distinct pieces. But it’s eerie.
Leftfield: Nick Swisher
The Common Man likes to think one of two things happened here. Perhaps Nick got in the shower one day, and all the hair ran down his face and pooled under his chin, forming a kind of island. Not sure what to do, Nick dyed it yellow, hoping it would blend in better. The other option is no less amusing, that Nick got confused one day as to why his helmet didn’t have a chinstrap, so he grew his own. Eventually he realized he was playing baseball, not football, and gave up.
Centerfield: Dan Gladden
TCM’s cheating here a little, as Gladden is best known as a leftfielder for the Twins. But before that, he played a great deal in center for the Giants. And all that time, Gladden sported a mustache that appeared dirty and incomplete because it was so blonde. Indeed, Gladden’s mustache was one of those interminable highway construction projects that takes years and years and never seems to get anything done or get better. It was a bridge to nowhere. A house where the owners ran out of money before it was complete. Gladden’s mustache was The Last Tycoon. Forever unfinished, its promise never realized.
Rightfield: Platoon of Jose Canseco and Darryl Strawberry
Look how cute those little baby mustaches are. They look so adorable trying to grow in, and be all manly. Canseco and Strawberry, of course, were both baby-faced stars, trying to look older and fit in with the veterans. To show that they weren’t intimidated by the Big League lifestyle. Alas, this was a terrible failure on both of their parts, and both soon shaved. And having learned their lesson, you’ll be pleased to know that neither of them ever did anything to alter their bodies or mar their magnificent talent ever again.
Designated Hitter: Hal McRae
When he was in college, The Common Man had a small role in a play that was set at the very close of the 19th century. He played a nuveau-riche entrepreneur who wanted to buy the house of a beloved and reclusive American poet, gut it, and turn it into a bed and breakfast. He wore checkered pants and a tweed jacket, a bowler hat, and carried a walking stick. To complete the illusion, he was asked to grow a beard exactly like the one Hal McRae sports to the right. It was a dark time in The Common Man’s life, but he got his Fine Arts general credit, dammit.
The Common Man has never seen another permutation of facial hair that screams “preeminent douchebag” quite like this one.
The former Johan Santana II is afraid that his face would just blur into the background if it didn’t have a beard-frame to make it “POP”.
Someone was trying too hard. The skill and intricacy it took to make that beard is mind-boggling to behold. Steady hands like that should be painting the Sistine Chapel or performing open heart surgery. Instead, it's carving fjords and stars into the beard of a mediocre right-handed pitcher. Still, this does show some creativity, unlike…
who decided to say “screw it,” let nature take its course, and just turn into the dog faced boy.
This almost deserves a column of its own. Jesus God are there a bunch of terrible examples of facial hair here. Look, here’s a collage starring Chad Gaudin, Bobby Jenks, Ryan Franklin, Fernando Rodney, and Boone Logan:
Gaudin has a good luck troll hanging upside down below his chin. Rodney has a ledge to catch food or for bird to perch on. LOOGY Boone Logan has a reverse plateau. Ryan Franklin just looks insane. And Bobby Jenks. Oh, Bobby Jenks. Bobby Jenks seems to have passed out drunk at a party with some mischievous friends, which is actually plausible for Bobby Jenks.
But the king of bad reliever facial hair is and will always be Billy Koch, who took his name a little too literally and gets a collage of his own:
The Billy Goat is, by far, the worst example of facial hair The Common Man has ever seen, and TCM can think of nothing more appropriate than to send this whispy abomination out to close out games.
If you think The Common Man missed anyone, feel free to make the argument in the comments below.
Update: At Craig Calcaterra's perfectly reasonable request, we have added a 5th starter.
[Note: By the way, you probably have noticed or been made aware of the new look around here. Check out what's going on here, and read TCM's friend and partner, BILL, as he crafts a defense of Pirates GM Neil Huntington here.]