In the wake of Jason Giambi’s facial follicle-aided resurgence this season and the resulting failed All-Star campaign the Yankees organized for him (at least it’s facial hair aiding him rather than a PED or two, I think), Detroit Tigers closer Todd Jones, writing in the SPORTING NEWS, wants to make sure no one forgets about that specimen of intimidation resting upon his lip.
As Jones writes, it all started years ago when he wanted to get a look that screamed intimidation in opposing hitters.
Doug Brocail and several teammates gave me a hard time years ago because my Fu Manchu was crooked. But I thought I was mean-looking, so I rocked it. To be honest, when I was learning how to be a closer, I thought I needed something to make me look the part.
I remembered the looks of Goose Gossage and the Mad Hungarian, Al Hrabosky. Then I met Rod Beck — God rest his soul — and I was in. I’ve gone about three weeks in my entire career without my once slightly crooked and now-graying mustache. I guess it’s me.
Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, and so on — one of the intangibles that a pitcher can employ that screams “closer” has always been the ’stache — although Bruce Sutter got the same effect with the hobo beard. Also usable: goggles (Francisco Rodriguez before this season, Eric Gagne before the ‘roids went away) and long hair (Mark Wohlers, Mitch Williams, and the aforementioned Beck.)
What’s amusing is the expressed thought by Jones: “For whatever reason, some clubs still think you can’t be a good baseball player with a Fu Manchu.”
Not sure when that became official policy in some clubhouses, but considering that Jones’ manager, Jim Leyland, is considering lightening his workload, the lip action probably isn’t much good unless it can magically power his arm.