August 09, 2011
The toughest thing in sports is detecting whether Larry Bird has a mustache.
The light blond hair, the prominent nose, the receded upper lip — Bird's facial features conspire so that one must stare at him, sometimes for minutes, before a mustache appears. If it appears, that is; he doesn't always wear it. Bird's face is like one of those Jackson Pollock-esque paintings that seem random, but eventually reveal themselves to be a schooner. Eat your heart out, Bill Simmons.
Enter baseball's bad boy, A.J. Pierzynski(notes). Known mostly for his competitive gamesmanship, Pierzynski recently made the decision to sprout his own mustache. Despite being fair-haired like Larry Legend, Pierzynski's preferable facial dimensions make it easier to tell if he's got a 'stache or not.
How can Chicago White Sox fans not like A.J.'s new face, especially after the game he had Monday night at Baltimore? Pierzynski hit a home run and made the defensive play of the game at Camden Yards.
With the Orioles threatening in the bottom of the eighth inning, Robert Andino(notes) hit a pop-up that seemed headed out of play. Pierzynski tracked the ball all of the way to the O's dugout and, after grabbing a padded railing and hanging on, made a one-handed catch without falling in.
For Pierzynski, the play required concentration and balance — both of which came with the help of, undoubtedly, the new mustache. He definitely doesn't make that catch in June without hair on his lip, and the White Sox probably lose without his total contributions.
Can Pierzynski's Larry Bird 'stache be the motivating factor for Chicago overtaking the Tigers and Indians in the AL Central? It just might depend on what Jhonny Peralta(notes) is willing to do to his own face.