Don’t mess with the mustache

Collin Balester mustache.jpgNeil Armstrong walked on the moon. Al Gore invented the internet. Joe Dirt made the mullet fashionable and Collin Balester created the molestache.

The always talkative, video game guru, tweeting machine–aka Collin Balester–redefined what it means to have a manly mustache. It is still debatable if the overgrown, food snatching, bushy, brown mustache should be classified as a mustache or squirrels nest.

He has been called Jeff Foxworthy, Cornel Mustard and Jeff Kent. At the same time, this isn’t your Dad’s mustache. People with a mustache as dense as the rain forest typically mean business. This mustache is the reason why parents tell their kids not to accept candy from strangers. Granted there is nothing inherently evil about a mustache, but there is something the players find eerie about it.

Collin Balester mustache upclose.jpg“Everyone loves it,” Balester said. “They think it’s funny… it just lightens the mood. Of course, we are all serious and it isn’t going to change the way we go about doing our business.”

He is the same pitcher he always was–trying just to make an impression with his pitches not his antics–he just happens to have a big stache and an even larger number.

Last year, Balester spent the majority of the 2009 season with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. He went 7-10 with a 4.44 ERA (53 ER/ 107.1 IP) and 71 strikeouts. He made a brief stint with the Nats in July and August and started seven games going 1-4 with a 6.82 ERA.

Those types of numbers don’t typically provide job security let alone number security. When the Nats signed Chien-Mien Wang on Friday, Balester was forced to surrender the No. 40.

He had the choice between the numbers 29 and 70. That’s like asking someone what soap opera do you want to watch, Young and the Restless or Days of our Lives-bad or worse. Can I just watch paint dry? As far as the number hierarchy is concerned, those two numbers might sit at the bottom unless you are a starting running back and left tackle.

Collin Balester mustache sitting down.jpgBalester tried to wear the No. 99 last year but the Nats said no. After he was given the option between the two numbers, he texted the equipment manger and asked if he could wear the always available No. 99. His persistence paid off.

“It keeps people guessing,” Balester said.  “When they look at the number on my back they’ll think, ‘That guy had no shot. He is wearing No. 99.'”

You might think of 99 on a baseball uniform the same way you think of 65 on a wide receiver but Manny Ramirez is 99 for the Dodgers. And let’s not forget no one has kept 99 more groovy than Rick “The Wild Thing” Vaughn… then again Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky admirably wore 99 too.

And we are back to square one with what Shakespeare famously said, “What’s in a number?”… or was it a name?

“It doesn’t matter what number you get or what you look like,” Balester said. “It just matters if you get it done.”

Balester has proved he can get it done when it comes to growing a mustache. The only question remaining is can he get it done on the field and earn a roster spot out of Spring Training?

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