Nationals manager Davey Johnson vowed before Friday's game against the Phillies that he will not shave until his team's bats awaken.
The 70-year-old, sporting a white scraggly beard, apologized for his appearance upon arriving at his pregame press conference, but explained his reasoning behind his new look.
"If my facial hair looks bad, I decided I wouldn't shave until we started hitting," he told reporters. "I figured I couldn't get any uglier, so what the heck. Hopefully I can shave soon. I've never had a rally goatee. I'm not hairy enough to get one. Now it's gray, you can't hardly see it unless you get these close-ups that I get after the game, so I apologize."
Growing beards in sports is a common ritual. Hockey players don't shave during the playoffs, while the Dallas Mavericks made a pact vowing not to shave until they reached .500, a goal that took them over two months to reach earlier this year.
Despite having one of the most formidable lineups in baseball, the Nationals were only hitting .225 as a team entering Friday, the second-worst output in the majors, and had scored159 runs through 47 games, third-fewest. On its recently-completed 10-game West Coast road trip, Washington was shut out twice and scored nine runs during the latter half.
Friday, the Nationals scored five or more runs for just the eighth time in 21 games this month in a 5-2 win over the Phillies. A four-run fifth inning featuring an Adam LaRoche RBI triple and a Steve Lombardozzi RBI double put the game out of reach and prevented the Phillies from reaching .500 for the first time since April 14.
Yet that wasn't enough for the Nationals to allow Johnson to shave.
"They said it can't come off yet," Johnson said. "My wife, she probably wants me to take it off, I'm sure she does, but I might leave it on, see if this is not something strange happening here."
UPDATE: Per Joseph White of the Associated Press, Johnson will keep the stubble growing at least through Saturday's game against Philadelphia.
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