I don't mind that you went to the Yanks. I really don't. What I mind is that you gave them your beard. And why? Because they said so? What kind of reason is that?

I don't mean to be a jinx here, Johnny, but I think it is possible that this whole thing may backfire and backfire big. Like Babe Ruth big. Like the-Yanks-won't-win-another-World-Series-for-maybe-100-years big.

Call it the Samson Effect. You lose your hair; they lose their strength.

Think about it. Damon? Samson? Close enough.

Listen, Johnny, it's not all your fault. It's Al Gore's.

The 2000 Democratic presidential nominee, I'm sure you recall, emerged from his postelection seclusion with a face full of, well, there is just no other way to put it: hair. Here was a guy still thinking he might run again for president. And the first thing he does is show up with a beard?

Do you know which president last wore a beard? Rutherford B. Hayes. Ever heard of him? I mean, outside of a bar bet? Didn't think so.
When Gore reappeared, a poll showed that 62 percent of Americans disapproved of his hirsute visage. Cartoonists likened him to a Chia pet.

It's not a pleasant memory for any of us. But if we are to get past it, we need to face up to it. Culturally speaking, Johnny, the impact of Gore's beard has been considerable.

For, since then, the beard has become a divider, not a uniter. Gone are the days of cheerful Santas, thoughtful history professors, and passionate poets. Instead, beards became, simply, wrong.

Its wrongness is what made your beard so right, Johnny. You wore your beard anyway. You said - well, your facial hair said - "You know, I don't care if a guy with a beard can never be president. He can be MVP of the World Series."

But now what? What have we bearded guys got? Football, that's what.