The List: Best Closers' Facial Hair
It's clear to us what's wrong with Joel Hanrahan, the Nationals closer who blew two saves over the weekend and tried to blow another one last night before rescuing himself. It's not the .353 batting average he is allowing to left-handed hitters, or the suspect pitch selection, or even the long balls. It's the facial hair.
To put it bluntly, the scruffy little half-goatee thing simply doesn't scream "intimidator" -- it screams "henpecked husband whose wife won't let him grow a full goatee because the mustache part tickles her nose when they kiss." But this must change.
Those of us of a certain generation recall when no closer would dare take the mound without a face full of thick, unruly hair capable of housing a small farm animal. These guys were ugly and gross, but the facial hair added an intimidation factor that has been lost today. We think this is what Hanrahan needs, so here are five prime examples for him to emulate. Feel free to add your own.
5. Goose Gossage's "Walrus" 'stache: This style is very closely related to the fu manchu (see below), only a little more restrained and a little less vertical. But it was a major part of the Goose's mound persona, and managed to convey: "I have no qualms about putting this next fastball in your earhole."
4. Rollie Fingers's handlebar 'stache: Okay, it wasn't necessarily intimidating, but it was a work of art, to be sure -- perfectly coiled curls at either end of a jet-black 'stache, held in place by an ample helping of Pinaud's Mustache Wax. And you have to love the way it was memorialized for all eternity on Fingers's Hall of Fame plaque.
3. Bobby Jenks's half-goatee: Just to show we have nothing against modern closers (or half-goatees), we honor the Chicago White Sox's current closer, whose lengthy half-goat is unruly enough (even when it's not dyed pink) to earn him a spot on a list otherwise dominated by guys from the '70s and '80s.
2. Al Hrabosky's fu manchu: The "Mad Hungarian" was known for two things: His angry, stalk-the-mound, pound-the-ball-into-the-glove, pre-pitch routine... and his fu manchu. In 1977, the Cardinals made him shave it off under a new no-facial-hair directive, and Hrabosky had perhaps his worst season in the majors.
1. Bruce Sutter's "mountain man" beard: What was in there? A family of birds? A jar of Vaseline? A sawed-off shotgun? If you were a batter facing Sutter, you had to wonder. And if you were wondering about that, well, you didn't stand much chance against that nasty splitter.
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