10/14/2004 7:37 PM ET
Scruffy 'Stros shun shaves
It's 'win or use a razor' for some Houston players
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
|Lance Berkman sneaks a scratch on his itchy beard during NLCS Game 1. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS -- All that facial hair on all those Houston Astros is not for warmth.
It's for mojo.
"We're not going to shave until we lose [a series]," Jeff Bagwell said. "So here I am. I hope I look like the guy from 'Survivor' at the end of this."
It keeps growing and growing and growing. And itching and itching and itching.
"I think we're all regretting it now," said outfielder Lance Berkman, who is sporting one the fuller beards. "It's pretty itchy."
But so far, so good. After defeating the Braves in the Division Series, the Astros were getting set for Game 2 of the National League Championship series on Thursday night against the mostly clean-shaven St. Louis Cardinals.
The beards came in handy. It rained all day in St. Louis and temperatures dipped below 50 degrees hours before game time.
"As long as we're in it," catcher Brad Ausmus said, "we're going to keep the hair on the face."
National Hockey League players typically begin a no-shaving routine at the start of the playoffs. By the end, many of them look they belong on wanted posters.
Some Astros are doing the same after entering into a loose "no razors" pact on the team charter to Atlanta, where they opened the National League Division Series. They beat the Braves in five games, and as long as they're alive it's worth it.
Even if guys start looking like the lost member of ZZ Top.
"If we can all braid our beards, then we would be in business," Berkman said.
About half of the Houston clubhouse is sporting facial hair these days. No one was exactly sure who came up with the idea, but injured starter Wade Miller was willing to claim credit.
"I saw the hockey players doing it back in June, and I thought it was a good idea," said Miller, who was watching Calgary and Tampa Bay square off in the Stanley Cup Finals. "So I threw it out there."
Bagwell said he, Ausmus and Berkman revisited the idea on the charter flight to Atlanta.
"So far, so good," Miller said. "As long as we're in it we're going to keep doing it."
Miller will be ready for hunting season. He has a trip to Montana scheduled for November, and he should be fully bearded by them.
Has anybody tried to join but couldn't quite get past the five-o'clock shadow?
"Pettitte couldn't do it," Miller said with a smile.
But Pettitte is still trying. He had some facial hair showing as he wandered through the clubhouse on Thursday.
Could baby-faced Craig Biggio do it, even if he wanted to?
"No way," Bagwell said.
Other Astros are clean-shaven by choice. Reliever Chad Qualls has some scruff working last week but shaved it off after surrendering a game-tying, three-run home run to Atlanta's Adam LaRoche in Game 4 of the NLDS, leaving only a goatee. Qualls surrendered five runs to the Cardinals on Wednesday night, and on Thursday he was completely clean-shaven.
Backup outfielder Jason Lane has been shaving, too.
"I didn't get started when everyone else did, so I can't start changing now," Lane said.
Especially considering how his NLDS went. Lane homered in his first-ever postseason at-bat in Game 1, and he made the catch for the final out of Game 5.
"Things have been working out for me," Lane said. "I'm happy with that."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.