Facial hair has long occupied a special place in baseball. From the Rollie Fingers-led mustache gang of the early/mid-70s Oakland Athletics to the Yankees's explicit restrictions on facial hair styles, the place of the well-manicured mustache or the unruly mountain man beard has been the subject of decades of debate, appreciation, and entertainment.
Currently, there are players rocking some pretty stellar facial hair fashion. Dallas Keuchel's well-cared-for beard is essentially a giant rectangle dangling from his chin; Jayson Werth, as Phillies fans likely recall, rocks a beard/long hair combination that either evokes biblical images or reminds of the guy asking for change on the street yesterday depending on your disposition; Blue Jays minor league catcher Jack Murphy showed up to Spring Training in Dunedin sporting a mustache that set the world's heart ablaze with envy.
The Phillies' roster, unfortunately, is bereft of premium facial hair talent, but that doesn't mean that there aren't perfectly nice attempts that deserve recognition and respect. In the following rankings, I will strive to highlight some of the best, and, occasionally, the most comedic, attempts at facial hair cultivation the Phillies have put on display in 2015. Feel free to share your favorite Phillies facial hair styles or those of other players you admire in the comments. The world only benefits from more pictures of good beards and mustaches.
Honorable Mentions: Sean O'Sullivan, Elvis Araujo, Freddy Galvis, Andres Blanco, Jeff Francoeur's Goatee, Larry Bowa's week of hangover stubble, Sal Fasano.
10. Jake Diekman
It feels almost too easy to cast aspersions on the attempts of blonde-haired individuals to grow compelling facial hair, but we have to call Jake Diekman out here for violating the unbreakable maxim of beard/mustache growth: if it looks like something the stereotypical stoner in your high school had, you should not take it out in public. Diekman, bless his heart, took such an interpretation on the goatee with him to a team photoshoot. It is the responsibility of teammates, coaches, and PR staff to ensure things like this don't happen at all, let alone end up in a god-dammed media guide.
It gets better from here, I promise.
9. Chase Utley
Not all facial hair has to be full to be beautiful, and Chase Utley is the perfect example of that. As he's aged and his hair has grayed in recent years, he has, in this writer's humble opinion, come upon the most visually appealing stubble cultivation in the game. He's 15-20 years away from reaching George Clooney-esque old man sex appeal, but it's clear that Utley is well on his way to easing in to just that look.
8. Grady Sizemore, III
We might conceive of Sizemore as the fusion of the Utley and the Diekman--stubble manicured in such a way as to resemble that of your high school weed dealer. Unlike Diekman, however, Sizemore has the good sense to not embarrass himself and his forbearers by strolling into town with an unbalanced hairy protrusion on his chin. Decorum is worth something in these rankings, and it raised Grady Train out of the cellar.
7. Jerome Williams
Quality of facial hair is not derived solely from the intrinsic quality of the particular hair style; the disposition and character of the wearer must come into play as well. Whatever this is--some manner of chin patch, maybe--Jerome carries it with dignity and grace. Despite the skewed-rightedness of this patch, Williams holds his head high. The merits of this particular style as well as Jerome's grooming and sense of symmetry are certainly topics worthy of discussion. For the purposes of these rankings, those discussions are secondary to the royal air with which Jerome Williams presents his submission to this contest.
6. Cameron Rupp
Rupp's beard is very safe. He keeps it under close shave--a 3 or 4 on a standard beard trimmer to my eye--and rarely allows the public to see instances of unsightly neck stubble. There's not much more to say here. Rupp offers a solid entry, avoiding serious facial hair gaffes while playing the game conservatively enough to limit upside.
5. Luis Garcia
In a world similar to our current one, Luis Garcia finishes as high as 3rd in these rankings. Today, he finishes 5th, but he and the next two are pretty much interchangeable. Garcia combines a dedication to beard maintenance with above-average growth potential. About the chin region, we detect some solid length that, likely through meticulous grooming, remains shapely. Garcia is probably the Phillies' most-improved facial hair performer of 2015 after a risk-averse debut.
4. Odubel Herrera
There's a compelling argument that what Odubel has here is a poor man's Luis Garcia, and while I acknowledge the validity of that argument, I find myself compelled by the curliness that Odubel features in his submission. As with Garcia, Herrera demonstrates a dedication to grooming--the thin sideburns are certainly the product of some labor. What I like about Herrera is that his facial hair naturally defies grooming attempts. While Garcia's is both amenable to and the product of, presumably, involved trimming and usage of hair product, Herrera's beard does what it wants. If it wants to curl, it's gonna curl; if it wants to hang straight, it's gonna hang straight. That unpredictability is fun.
3. Aaron Harang
Harang is throwing it back to Spring Training with his submission. He felt his current offering of a fuller goatee, while a more impressive feat in itself, lacked the dedication to craft and lack of self-awareness demonstrated in this offering. Here, Harang, at the tiem recently signed by the Phillies, presents an homage to the Keystone State in the trapezoidal trimmings of his soul patch. It is soulful, geographically appropriate, and, most importantly, it reflects the level of lack of self-respect necessary to cross the bridge into facial hair immortality.
2. Bob McClure
Rarely do coaches enter the upper echelons of facial hair entertainment. Presumably this is the result of some combination of the desire to command respect and a certain age-related process of mellowing. Bob McClure spits in the face of such conventions with his sort-of-handlebar mustache/soul-patch combo. Perhaps he's trying to cultivate the look of someone who finds himself in possession of ancient wisdom regarding the art of pitching. Perhaps he just doesn't give a f***. Either way, this is a mighty fine submission from the Phillies' pitching coach.
If these rankings had been compiled two weeks ago, the above submission would have likely walked away with first prize, but recent developments have led to the clear champion:
1. Cole Hamels
What started a couple weeks ago as the stubble-beard of a man in despair over bad HR/FB luck and a devastating lack of run support has turned into a crowning achievement for Phillies heart-throb and ace Cole Hamels. Whether the motivation behind this project is that of a trade beard (in the manner of a playoff beard) or simply a desire to increase his sexual appeal is of no matter to these rankings. The simple fact is that the result is glorious and earns Cole the top spot in these prestigious rankings.
Who do you think has the best facial hair on the Phillies?