The playoff beard is nothing new in hockey, but in the MLB, it's still a new sensation. I really took notice of Giants' closer Brian Wilson's interesting man-scaping situation during the Giants vs. Braves National League Divisional Series. It's an understatement to say his beard and haircut combination is unique, especially considering the usual grooming standard in professional baseball. But is it a little too much for Bud Selig and the MLB?
To break down Wilson's man-scaping, let's start with his haircut. Wilson sports a modified mohawk. It's not short and amateurish like we've seen on the Tampa Bay Rays, but rather it's more mullet-esque in length and a little dirt bag in its styling. Contrary to popular belief - the mohawk is his natural light brown colour, no bleach or dye.
Wilson started growing the beard back in August and kept in its natural brunette state for the summer. When the playoff push in September hit, he dyed it pitch black (although he won't openly admit it). It's now a dark, thick beard that any grisly lumberjack or hockey player would be envious of come playoff season. Fans are turning the scruff into a cult figure by sporting faux beards and signs and even re-jigged the Milwaukee Bucks' "FEAR THE DEER" cheer into, naturally, "FEAR THE BEARD". Apparently the man-scaping isn't serious business for the MLB regular season save leader:
"I'm just rocking a beard, keeping it fun," Wilson said. "I had a beard in 2007, but I had to shave it because I got sent down. I just never grew it back. I just said it was bad luck. Not this year. I wouldn't say the beard got us here, but I wore it here." (From Janine McCauley's CP piece).
Wilson's original take on grooming isn't the only thing that makes him stand out in the clubhouse as his overall sartorial sense is not standard. In Wilson's appearance in the 2010 All-Star Game this year, he wore a pair of bright creamsicle orange cleats and again versus Florida Marlins the next game.
His shoes were obviously not regulation and thanks to Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez's complaints, the National League fined Wilson for one thousand dollars for "wearing non-conforming shoes and was told that half of each shoe had to be black". Damn. Wilson says the fine was for "being too awesome", not for disobeying dresscode. He's kept wearing the overt orange shoes ever since, colouring them in with black sharpie to adhere to the uniform rule in his own way. Oh, and he's also a certified ninja - if you haven't seen the Jim Rome interview with Wilson, it's a must see.
The MLB needs more guys like Brian Wilson. Most baseball players come off as guarded or even dull during interviews and in such a long season, some variety isn't just nice - it's necessary. Fans and media members warm to players who show their own personality and can make them smile with more than just an amazing pitch. Ron Artest went from being seen as a bad, psycho teammate to being a player whose honesty about his psychological shortcomings and zest for life now endears him to all. Jared Allen's once crazy haircut (he cut the mullet for his wedding), hunting cookbook and general mayhem earns him legions of fans because he is honest. Patrick Roy is as well known for his play between the pipes as he was for talking to them while in net.
Let Brian Wilson keep his black beard, long mohawk, bright orange shoes, slightly over the top save celebrations and of course, his fastball, because a player with his talent, wit and humour can only help a team on the field and in the clubhouse. While he's quite handsome without the beard, as a Canadian girl I'm more than accustomed to the hockey boys' obsession with the facial hair playoff good luck charm. Let's go Giants and let Brian be the black-bearded ninja; because when he's on the mound, he's still the man to count on.