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The Universal Notebook: Big, bad Boston beards

Opinion

The Universal Notebook: Big, bad Boston beards

Has anyone else noticed what a striking likeness Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia bears to North Pond Hermit Christopher Knight? I guess it must be the beard.

As we all know, the Sox won the 2013 World Series based largely on the power of facial hair. St. Louis had far neater, trimmer 21st century beards, but the Boston beasts were hairy monsters, sporting some of the worst beards seen on civilized man since Johnny Damon was traded to the Yankees and forced to clean up his act.

Worst by far was the scrofulous growth on the baby face of pitcher Clay Buchholz, scraggly little chin whiskers worthy of a modern-day moonshiner. Super sub Jonny Gomes wasn’t much better with his wild, unkempt and uneven Yosemite Sam. With that beard, his disheveled uniform and all his tattoos, Gomes looked more like a member of a motorcycle gang than a Major League Baseball team.

World Series MVP David Ortiz sported a sharp razor cut and a fine fade that enabled him to hit an unheard of .688, about three times the batting average of the rest of the Red Sox. Supposedly his barber Monster99 worked on several other Sox players, but if so, it didn’t show.

The catchers had a couple of the best beards, Jarrod Saltalamacchia going hippie nature boy on us while elder statesman David Ross stroked his gray philosopher’s beard. Mike Napoli and Mike Carp went full brush. Dustin Pedroia looked like Pig-Pen dressed up as Ulysses S. Grant for Halloween. The fleet outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino seemed to be wearing the same Conquistador Van Dyke. Stephen Drew, Daniel Nava and John Lester did the best they could with chinstraps, while John Lackey went full-on derelict for the post-season.

Long reliever Felix Doubront and third baseman Xander Bogaertz both managed stylish little goatees. Reliever Brandon Workman, who started the season with the Portland Sea Dogs, as did Bogaertz, probably had the best beard on the pitching staff, but it looked suspiciously like it had been touched up with a little Just for Men. Just sayin’.

Junichi Tazawa sprouted a few chin hairs, but, despite his infectious team spirit, closer Koji Uehara didn’t allow a single facial hair.

The trouble with all the Red Sox beards from a tonsorial perspective was the relative lack of mustaches. You can usually tell a guy who doesn’t ordinarily have a beard, because he tends to be uncomfortable with hair on his upper lip. It takes a real man to eat an Amaretto goji berry gelato or sip a caramel sea salted mochachino without soiling himself.

Sadly, only about 10 percent of American men wear beards these days, and that number definitely does not include all the male models, Hollywood stars and other metrosexuals who meticulously maintain a fashionable stubble with Braun Cruzers set at 1 mm. Either shave or not, boys, but don’t pretend you have a five o’clock shadow all day every day. That’s just creepy.

The late 19th century was a good time for bearded men, Presidents Lincoln, Grant, Hayes, Garfield and Harrison hairy men one and all. But something effete overtook the American male in the 20th century and he started shaving his face the way women shave their legs and armpits. A pity really, since a good beard (or even a bad one) really does make a man more virile and manly and able to win World Series titles against all manner of shaven and shorn lesser beings, be they Rays, Tigers or Cardinals.

Go Sox. Fear the beards.