The Beard and the Mythos
Casey Blake's official 2010 headshot sans beard.
Throughout history the beard has been the symbol of masculinity and virility. Zeus and Poseidon are always pictured with one. The book of Leviticus forbids a man to harm the edges of his beard. Hockey players grow out their beards during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the Dodgers there’s Casey Blake. The minute he stepped foot on the playing field at Dodger Stadium he was noted for his beard. Which is why when he shaved it for charity during the offseason it came as a shock to many fans.
By the end of the Dodgers’ most recent road trip Blake was only hitting .233 with only three homers, the decreased production people all across the World Wide Internets attributed to his non-hirsute looks.
Now that the beard has started to come back, so has his production. He has gone 8-for-17 with two homers and a double so far during this home stand. However he is reluctant to attribute it to his beard when I asked him about it.
“Not really. I like to joke around and take credit for the fact we’ve been winning since I decided to start grow it.
“It’s just a matter of staying the course knowing it’s a long season and just keep preparing, keep working hard and keep preparing yourself to win.”
The team also seems to have been taken by his beard also. In the month of May they have gone a Major League-best 14-4 crawling from the depths of the National League to one game behind the San Diego Padres for the NL West lead and a tie at the top of the NL Wild Card standings.
But the ever-humble Blake also downplays his beard’s role in it.
“We started pitching better as a team, come up with some key base hits against some good pitching. We just try and stay consistent with your work ethic. You can’t get too high or too low.”
He also noted that the beard has not been a craze inside the clubhouse and that other players don’t come to him for beard growing advice.
Regardless the Dodgers have been on a roll, however the specter of Interleague Play is upon them. The Dodgers are 99-110 in Interleague Play and 29-52 since 2004. With the hard-hitting Detroit Tigers in town, we’ll see how the bolstered Dodger pitching staff handles that.