Wednesday, October 19

Slaps* All Around

Houston needs to win only one of the next two games to take the National League pennant, but I am not going to jinx the Astros by waiting for a victory before commenting on the team's hot playoff beards.

In Monday night's roller coaster, woofy Lance Berkman (below) homered in the seventh inning to give the 'Stros the lead over St. Louis. But then the Redbirds came up with a two-out, come-from-behind dinger in the ninth off peach-fuzzed closer Brad Lidge (left, with Berkman) to secure a win and force a return to Busch Stadium. It's not clear whether Lidge's Game 5 problem was related to testosterone insufficiency. Commented teammate Brad Ausmus: "I don't think he can even grow facial hair."

The honorable tradition of growing beards during the playoffs -- originally a hockey thing -- can apparently get complicated. Reports circulated that after their Game 1 loss in the NLCS, the Astros made a pact that bearded players would have to shave down to a moustache if the team lost Game 2. As they proceeded to win the next three games, Houston players gradually got hairier. Even the clean-shaven seemed to misplace their razors. More recently, some observers are knocking the team for trimming their beards, proclaiming that manscaping will surely incur the wrath of the baseball gods.

Hope not. I'm rooting for a final win tonight over the Cards, so that the nice bearded boys from Texas can carry their smokin' good looks right on through a World Series championship. I mean, it's not like I'd keep watching just for the baseball, right?

* Derivation explained here.