Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Beardman Giveth... Part 2

            An article was posted on the Fan Cave Web site this last week in regard to the “Fan Cave Bump” for all of the guys who made the All-Star game simply by visiting the Fan Cave. I had to really reflect upon the list of guys who made the roster and the first thing that popped into my head was, “well that’s bullshit.” Not necessarily because of the fact that it was written, but because the list of guys have been some of the top vote getters over the last few years. How about looking at the list of guys who came in and didn’t make the All-Star squad? I could have done that, but I did one better. I assure you that all of this is true, and I find it just as weird as some of you will. So let’s start at the beginning…

             Back in April, one of the friends of the MLB Fan Cave, Bryan Mapes, came up with an interesting term for whenever a player visits and has extremely productive outings for the rest of the season. His term: The Fan Cave Bump. A hashtag on Twitter later followed: #FanCaveBump. Now, if you go on the Web site and look at the list of talent that rolled through and compare the numbers, you’ll find that it was a very hit-or-miss type of phenomenon. One of which I never really bought into… until I started really putting things together. I’m not really sure why it took so long to come to the realization of this pattern (I’m not an arrogant prick for starters). After going back down the list myself one night and really reflecting upon the time we shared with the players, the one’s that always did well were the one’s that touched and/or fondled my beard.

            Like I said before, I’m not an arrogant prick, but I can see where one would think that. All I ask is that you read through this list and come up with your own conclusion afterward. But I warn you, you’re about to have your mind blown! ;)

            April 10- Washington Nationals pitchers Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler stopped by. Detwiler was making his season debut and kept to himself a bit during the visit. I don’t blame him. He probably had a lot on his mind. However, Gio and Jackson played around and filmed a skit with the production crew. It was during the tour of the Fan Cave; however, when Gio did the unthinkable. See, most people look at the beard and think it’s fake. He was one of those people. He gave it a brief tug, we laughed and not much was exchanged after that. Before his visit Gio gave up 4 runs in 3.2 innings, struck out 6 and walked 3. His ERA was 9.82 and his record was 0-0. Since that day, Gio has gone 12-3 with a 2.92 ERA and 118 punch outs which put him in the top 3 for the NL Cy Young. A little too early in the season to call that? Maybe, but let’s move on.

            April 16- Jon “Bones” Jones stopped by to hang out and film a sketch with us. Jones was all smiles, except when he needed to be. That man can summon up a level of darkness and project it out without even trying. If babies were present, they would have cried. The segment I was in took place in the basement in which Jones was coming out of the bathroom and I told him to watch the games no matter where he goes. I think it took us 5 or 6 takes, mostly for different angles, but in between 2 of the takes Jones grabbed my beard. I’m assuming for luck, but it could have also been to mess with me as mine was way more glorious than his at the time. Jealousy! Anyway, we wrapped up and he left, only to have his UFC Light Heavyweight title defense against Rashad Evans that Saturday. Moving ahead, Jones kicked a moderate amount of piss out of Evans and retained his belt.

            April 27- Detroit Tigers stars Miguel Cabrera and Collin Balester rolled in to shoot a Telenovela. In between takes Balester and I got acquainted and exchanged beard related stories as he was growing a massive, red facial sweater similar to Erik the Red’s in the movie Willow. (Note: I did actually tell him that). But, as bearded men know, you never cross the streams. Cabrera, on the other hand, dove in while we were all taking a group photo without asking. Cabrera is a large man, mind you, so it was hard to say no, but, the proof is in the pudding: His AVG. jumped from .290 to .324 while clobbering 13 more home runs and tallying 58 RBI.

            May 3- RA Dickey and his family came in for a brief moment before he headed out with the production crew to meet up with some of the best wiffle ball pitchers the city of New York had to offer. Unlike my encounter with Balester, Dickey didn’t think much of crossing the streams. He took a brief swipe at my beard and commented on the luster of it. I then showed Dickey the finer points of screaming, “GOT HEEEEEM!!!” Before his visit Dickey was 3-1 with a 4.45 ERA and 28 strikeouts. Since the beard touch Dickey has gone 9-0, struck out 95, lowered his ERA to 2.40 and almost threw back to back 1-hitters (first time since Dave Stieb in 1988). At the rate he’s going, dude pal will more than likely compete hard for the NL Cy Young.

            May 5- Cinco de Mayo!!! Not much was supposed to happen that day other than just watching games; however, we did receive a tip that JJ Putz and Patrick Corbin would be stopping back by the Cave that evening after their game against the Mets. Not only did this come true, they also brought Willie “The Igniter” Bloomquist and Aaron Hill with them. Hill and I in the few moments we had together hit it off real well. He and I grew up a little over an hour away from each other; he in Visalia, me in Bakersfield. He talked a little about that, and a little about the Coliseum situation when he found out I was an A’s fan. At the time when he came in he was batting .242 with 4 home runs and 12 RBI. As our conversation wrapped up and he was on his way out he asked if my beard was real and took a small tug. In the process of him reaching out I was trying to say yes, but alas, he found out himself. We said our goodbyes and the gang trickled out. Now, this is probably one of the more interesting/significant changes to a player who grappled with the beard. Hill is now batting .300 with 11 home runs and 40 RBI, plus he racked up 70 more hits at the break. I think that’s it… oh wait!!! That’s right, he hit for the cycle twice in 11 days becoming the only the third person in MLB history (Babe Herman and John Reilly) to do so. Wild!!!

            May 14- Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy fielded some question with the other Cave Dwellers and me. Throughout our chatting and goofing around, Lucroy gained a massive fondness for my beard. He had some pretty sweet growth going for himself, but the man seriously had a “man crush” on mine. Toward the end of his visit I asked to snag a photo with him, at which he happily did so. As you can see in the photo below, Lucroy got himself a huge handful of beard. At this moment I should also point out that it’s his right hand that he’s scavenging with. Prior to his visit, Lucroy was hitting a respectable .323, which is awesome for a catcher, and 2 home runs to boot. Since that visit; however, he bumped it up to .345 with 3 more home runs and an additional 14 RBI. The man was straight money… until tragedy struck. Lucroy ended up breaking the same hand in which he got a ferocious handful of awesomeness. The unfortunate moral here? A little goes a long way. You generally don’t need more than a handful.

            May 17- Time will tell on this one, but bear with me. As part of the Fan Cave Concert Series, we were lucky to have The Voice’s season 2 winner Jermaine Paul stop by and croon a bit for us. After belting out some great songs, Paul came to the back to chat with us. I was the second in line to shake his hand and congratulate him on a great show when… he immediately grabbed my beard and started to braid it. I felt a bit like a turtle on its back, not knowing quite what to do. Not to be rude, I just let him go to work. Now, I say time will tell because he’s in the midst of cutting his first album since his victory on The Voice. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see how the album does in sales to really call this one. I’m setting the line at double platinum.

            May 18- The Cave was honored to have Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs and Brandon Phillips stop by. Phillips stayed for a shorter than the others, but I quickly learned that he is an incredibly cool dude who developed a small fondness for my beard. We only had a few moments of chatter together, but at the end of it, like Aaron Hill, he asked if it was real and gave it a small tug and had a good laugh. At the time when he rolled in he was hitting .252 with 2 home runs and 13 RBI. Not exactly the numbers we’re used to seeing. Since the tug Phillips has boosted his BA by 28 points, popped 8 more home runs and 35 RBI; which is a much needed jump for a guy who hits in the cleanup spot.

            May 21- Kansas City Royals Hall of Famer George Brett stopped by and chatted it up with Time magazine writer Joel Stein on the topic of manliness. I’m actually not joking. After all was said and done I had asked George if he wouldn’t mind helping me with a video about a Babe Ruth jersey which sold for $4.5 million. His response, “Yah, let’s fuckin’ do it.” We got upstairs, cranked it out and during the filming he talked about how much my beard might be worth and gave it a good tug. Obviously his career can’t really get any better. The Hall of Fame pretty much sealed it a long time ago, but, the man is an avid golfer. My guess, within the next year he’ll nail at least 2 hole-in-one shots. Yah, it seems minimal, but what else is there for the man to really do? He’s all ready won at life!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Beardman Cometh... Part 1

I realize that I’m still 2 days away from the actual date, but just bear with me on this one.

             A year has come and gone since my friend and co-worker Emily Wasson (pictured below) put me up to the challenge. The challenge? Grow my beard out like Brian Wilson. It was kind of a funny way the whole thing came about as we were both working at Max’s Tavern that day. 

  There wasn’t really anything else to watch sports wise, but most importantly, I wasn’t going to let anyone else watch anything else on the TVs. It was the All-Star game!!! One of the few days I volunteered to work in the afternoon because I didn’t have cable at my house. What can I say? I’m honest. Anyway, as they were announcing the lineups Emily looked up as I did when they rattled off Brian Wilson’s name. If you remember, he looked into the camera and gave a little finger tip of the cap. Upon seeing this Emily told me that I need to grow my beard out like his. Well, my natural beard color is a brownish red, with a lot of grey mixed in there. I said that I would have looked like a crack dealer (which I still think I do). She dared me to at least do it through Halloween to see how long I could get it. I accepted her challenge and the rest as they say, is history. Well, not quite. The tale of the beard goes back further than that, so I’ll have to break it up a bit.

Memorial Day 2008

            I’ve done a lot of stupid shit in my days, but nothing was more devastating to my health than the events that took place over Memorial Day weekend in 2008. A bunch of friends and I got together for the “Great American Keg Race” at a house not too far from where I lived in Eugene. There were about 50 of us that split into teams of 2, using the old-school recess captain’s selection format. The goal of this competition was for each team to completely finish a keg of beer. The winners get bragging right for a year. However, this year we upped the ante and got 2 kegs per team of sweet, delicious Natural Light. The two captains were my friends Mike Peth and Alex Corbin (banana suit above) and Mike had the first pick. I don’t remember who each took with their first round pick, but I do remember that I was the 3rd overall selection by Mike (red team). After all the teams were chosen, the drinking began. For those of you who have never done anything this crazy, the only thing to keep in mind is to drink. You can play beer pong, chug it, flip cup, it doesn’t matter. Just drink. Several hours passed and many red Dixie cups of Natty Light were consumed. By the end of it all, no one really knew who won, but a large shouting match broke out (of course) and a large cake fight occurred as well. The one thing we did know is that I was the MVP having consumed 27 full cups. I didn’t barf or anything and how I got home is still a bit of a haze. The next day I had a blazing headache (Shocker!!!), but had a little bit of a stomach ache. Over the next few days my stomach ache grew worse.(The photo above also shows what I looked like that day)

            I had 2 jobs at the time and ended up having to go home sick several times because I couldn’t stop throwing up or going to the bathroom. It sucked. A few days ended up stretching into weeks and I lost an average of 2 pounds a day for roughly 3 weeks. I ended up going to the hospital 3 times before anyone could figure out what was wrong with me. Turns out I had somehow contracted giardia. Giardia is what people get in third world counties when they drink contaminated water. Well, I was in Eugene which has been noted for having some of the cleanest drinking water in the country. Regardless, I was dying, and fast. During that stretch I stopped eating, showering and shaving. All I could drink was water or Gatorade. Luckily, I pulled through. A week’s worth of anti-biotics cleared up all the parasites I had in my intestines. Unfortunately, due to how long it took effect, I will have issues for the rest of my life. All in all, I lost 37 pounds in a short period of time. For proof, look at the after photo below.
          From then on, I have yet to shave my beard off. I did some maintenance work from time to time, but I NEVER let it go beyond a professional look. That is, until Emily gave me the dare. Months went by and it continued to grow. Day after day I had to look into the mirror at the ridiculousness that inhabited my face. And believe me; I didn’t really like what I saw. The craziest part of this process was the amount of people who grew to love it. Even before I dyed it black people got on the, “It’s Brian Wilson!” train, which I heard, and still hear 15-16 times a day. The even weirder part about all of this is the amount of women who came up and asked if they could touch. I’d say yes, but for a fee. I never really asked for anything, I just said a fee. One girl said I could touch her boobs for a fair trade. Needless to say, I didn’t say no to that. From that day forth any woman who asked to touch my beard had to let me touch their boobs. The sad reality of this… it worked almost every time. 25/27 to be exact (Is it really a surprise I know the exact number? I mean, I know baseball stats forwards and backwards). And before you call me anything harsh for setting that as a price, how do you think I feel about when people ask to touch my beard? But… the beard grew on: through Halloween (as seen below). 

 Through the Oregon football season. (This photo was from the PAC-12 Championship game and appeared in the College Super Fans collection in Sports Illustrated) I'm dressed as Randy "Macho Man" Savage.

  through a few more tattoos (This is torn from the pages of the January issue of Inked Junkie from their collection from the Portland Tattoo Convention in September of 2011. This is in the glass case of High Priestess in Eugene, OR)

            I had vowed to trim it down as soon as I got kicked out, and almost did it as soon as I was given my walking papers. Truth be told, I’ve never really been that big of a fan of my beard. As I mentioned earlier, I like keeping it professional looking, but with the amount of positive responses I’ve gotten about it, it made it hard to pick up a pair of clippers to tame this beast. The main reason why I will not shave my beard is because it’s a reminder of the keg race disaster that fell upon me. Since that time I curbed my drinking. I don’t do it as often, and I’ve pretty much cut liquor out of the equation all together as my body still has constant difficulty processing beer. As of now, I’m giving it until the end of the season, much the same goes for my hair. As my beard grows, so does my hair and vice-versa. But then again, I’m growing my hair to donate it to Locks for Love. To my knowledge there still isn’t a place to donate beards to. Shame.