BOSTON -- You've heard plenty already about beards and facial hair as the Red Sox have made their run to the World Series. Guys like Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli have been growing hunting season beards that the fans love -- and the players love to tug at as a way of congratulations.
Who better to ask about facial hair than Cardinals reliever John Axford? The former Canisius College pitcher had a moustache that became the talk of Milwaukee when he was the closer for the Brewers from 2009-2001 -- and even won awards for its pizzazz.
"They got a lot of crazy facial hair going on over there," Axford said with a laugh today during the Cardinals' Media Day in Fenway Park. "I tried to dabble in a beard at the beginning of the season and ended up shaving it off. .,.. It looks like they're having fun with it over there, which is my thing too. That's what I do with my facial hair too. They're enjoying it."
Axford had a good laugh when asked by a Milwaukee reporter who covered him during his Brewers days about the huge beard being grown by Sox slugger Mike Napoli, a mane "big enough for a family of five" as the questioner commented.
""It looks good. Some of these guys were thinking ahead for Halloween also," Axford said. "When that day comes, we might all have pretty good costumes to go with that facial hair."
What does Axford think of all the Boston beard tugging?
"You see the best and worst of each other all the time in that locker room. You're intimate, close, family. Facial hair is no big deal when you tug on that," he said. "It's close and personal. I'm sure a lot of people would look at it and say why, but when you're teammates and you're playing together, especially on this big a stage, you get that close intimacy of a family. It's no big deal. It's cool."
(Photo outside Fenway souvenir shops of player beard designs, left to right -- Top row: Dustin Pedroia, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Brandon Workman, Jonny Gomes; Middle row: David Ross, Mike Napoli, David Ortiz, John Lackey; Bottom row: Mike Carp, Shane Victorino, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster