Let me tell you what beards do for a player. They make him look badass, that's what they do. If Eric Bruntlett wasn't sporting a face parka, he would have been out of baseball long before scoring two winning runs in the 2008 World Series. If Jayson Werth didn't have an epic beard, I'm fully convinced he would have received about 15% less of his $126 million contract- not joking. That thing turned Werth into a brand last year. It didn't hit 46 doubles for him, but it also masked the fact that he never hit .300 or had 100 RBIs in a season. It created just enough buzz around a 31-year-old career .272 hitter to entice a desperate-for-attention franchise like the Nationals to take a chance on signing him for almost twice what the Phillies were offering.
Looks like a Raul, now in the last year of his contract, is taking a page out of that book (ironic because, two years ago, Werth looked to Ibanez as a model for a late-career suge). It isn't all just about the beard, however. You can bet that instead of the mis-timed swing version of Ibanez we saw at the begninning of last season, we are going to see Raul play much closer to the May of 2009 version of himself. Mid-way through that season, Ibanez suffered a tear in his abdomen which affected him for the second half of the year and through the beginning of 2010. Most notably, the offseason surgery required to fix the tear crippled Ibanez's offseason workout last year.
This year, he was able to get in his full program (that's the chic word of 2011), staying in Philadelphia to workout. Yesterday, he talked about that fact and threw in a sweet Ivan Drago reference for your listening pleasure.
He also looks a lot like a bald version of the guy who played Jose Yero in the slightly underwhelming remake of Miami Vice. That counts for something.
Hop it for the video.
Video via David Hale