A sports columnist’s mailbag: The best beard in sports and new MLB rules


ean asks: Who has the best beard in sports?

As someone who has tried many times to grow out a full beard, only to have people see me and say, “Stop it, Sam,” nobody appreciates a great beard more than me. But before I tell you about my favorite beard in sports, I want to tell you who has the worst beard in all of sports: James Harden. 

I know a lot of you probably look at Harden and think his beard is awesome, but let me let you in on a little secret … it’s not.

Yeah, it’s big, but it kind of just sits on his face with no context. All I see is a guy who turned his facial hair into a brand, and that’s not what beards should be about. In 2009, when Harden was a senior at Arizona State, The New York Times published a profile about the talented shooting guard.

After reading that profile, I found out that Harden originally grew his beard because he was too lazy to shave. That’s actually pretty funny — I could see myself growing a beard for the same reason. That being said, it’s still not close to the best beard in all of sports.

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end, Brett Keisel owns the best beard in all of sports. Keisel’s beard is absolutely majestic. 

If you’re not familiar with his beard, Google it right now. Stop reading my mailbag for a second and look it up. If you don’t, then what I say next won’t mean very much to you.

When I look at Brett Keisel’s beard I feel the need to buy a boat, nay, build a boat with my bare hands and travel around the world in it.

I would sail the world’s most dangerous seas and eventually return to the States after decades of travel. I would write dozens of award-winning novels chronicling my days at sea. A film would be adapted about my life, starring Ryan Gosling or Idris Elba, probably.

Does any of this sound crazy? Well it shouldn’t if you look at pictures of Brett Keisel’s beard for long enough.

Ryan asks: What are your thoughts on the MLB rule changes, and how do you think it will affect hitters?

Whenever I hear about MLB rule changes, I get nervous. Baseball is my favorite sport, and I have no problems with the pace of play. I know a lot of people who think baseball is boring because the games take too long. To that I say, stop watching baseball. Baseball is an amazing game, and in my opinion, the pace of play is a part of what makes it so unique.

I love the fact that you can go get a hot dog or run to the bathroom and you probably won’t miss much. You can sit back and enjoy yourself, whether you’re at a game or watching on TV.  As fun as it is to go to basketball or hockey games, sometimes I feel like I need to be on the edge of my seat the entire time, and there is no time to breathe.

I understand why baseball is looking to speed things up. The MLB doesn’t want fans to lose interest with three and a half hour games. The rules that new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred introduced for this upcoming season include managers having to challenge plays from the dugout, strict batter’s box rules and the immediate return to play after commercial breaks.

I especially like that last rule. Lots of time is wasted around commercial breaks.

Red Sox star David Ortiz has been one of the more vocal critics of the new rules. He has objected to the rule that requires batters to keep one foot in the batter’s box at all times.

Some Red Sox coaches actually met with the MLB to clarify some of the rule changes, including the one Ortiz took the most issue with. The MLB said that umpires are going to be pretty lenient about enforcing the new rules, at least at the start.

After hearing this, I’m not nearly as worried about the rule changes. MLB is just trying to speed things up a little bit. Nothing drastic has happened. 

I don’t think hitters will be too bothered by the new rules, assuming the umpires will be as lenient as reported. Otherwise, hitters will more than likely adjust, something athletes do throughout their careers.

Sam is a senior in Media.

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