St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has been called a lot of things: bright, shrewd, sharp, a hilarious jokester, and a swell square dancer.
Possibly we should add “ignorant” to that list. Let me explain.
About a year ago, I wrote that I had asked Mozeliak whether he was concerned about the lack of mustaches on the Cardinals and the impact that it’s having on overall team performance.
He calmly looked at me, seated to the side of the room wearing a large afro wig, tuxedo t-shirt, and plastic red shoes — and then looked back to the rest of the audience and simply said “No.”
He moved on as if it was a non-factor, a joke.
Enter Derrick Holland, and his lower nose accoutrement.
In game four of the 2011 World Series, the Texas Rangers’ Mustached American southpaw threw two-hit ball for 8 1/3 innings to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 and even things at 2-all. Holland and his luxurious lip sweater struck out seven, walked two and never was in trouble — coming within two outs of pitching the first complete-game shutout in the World Series since Josh Beckett‘s gem for Florida to clinch the 2003 title at Yankee Stadium.
FOX Sports analyst Tim McCarver noted during the network’s coverage, “The mustache is very important.” Opposing player David Freese of the Cardinals said of the Hollandstache, “I love it. It adds some character. It might even add a little bit to that sinker.”
Ironically, I received multiple text messages during the game asking me what I thought of Mr. Holland’s Mustache, suggesting it was a “bad” mustache. I simply reminded them that there is no such thing as a bad mustache — just bad people who do not own, nor operate, mustaches.
Mozeliak, a scarf-wearing bare-faced mortal, fails to recognize the impact the Mustache Factor has had on his ballclub, as well as on Major League Baseball altogether. Consider this:
FACT: Jason Giambi’s career was near dead in 2007, until he grew his mouth umbrella and nearly made the all-star team.
FACT: In 2009, the Cardinals grew team mustaches and finished in first place with 91 victories and made the playoffs. In 2010, minus any team mustaches with the exception of stalwart Jason LaRue, the team won 86 games and did not qualify for postseason play.
FACT: In 2009, a densely mustached Brendan Ryan was playing all-star caliber baseball. In 2010, minus the lip cabana, his fall was embarrassing and precipitous.
FACT: In 2009, Rick Ankiel was hitting .70 higher with nasal foliage. The moment he shaved it, his batting average dropped voluminously and then he was hurt crashing into the outfield wall whereas a mouth brow would have cushioned the blow.
FACT: Prior to the 2010 season, Minnesota Twins pitcher Carl Pavano’s career was virtually dead. With a furrowed upper lip, he won 17 games, which he shaved in 2011 and floundered once again.
Science, good looks nor historical data simply doesn’t lie, and John Mozeliak would be well-served to become a greater student of history — as well as purchasing an afro wig, tuxedo shirt, and plastic red shoes — and to consider the Mustache Factor this offseason as he’s rebuilding his club.