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What Will Replace the Beards for the Red Sox in 2014?

Without each other's beards to tug on, what will Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes do to bring the 2014 Red Sox together? (Photo courtesy of NPR)

Ladies and gentlemen, spring training is here, the 2014 season has begun, and the Boston Red Sox title defense is underway.

Pitchers and catchers have reported to Fort Meyers. Dustin Pedroia has already taken batting practice. Ryan Dempster decided he could do without $13 million and took a sabbatical. And true to their word, the Red Sox have shed their beards for the upcoming season.

Jonny Gomes, the Original Beard, turned his iconic beard into a strange promo for Philips Norelco before taking the whole thing off on Fox & Friends. Even Mike Napoli, who seemed like he would hold strong a month ago, now is having second thoughts. So with the beards scattered to the seven winds, what should be this year’s team identity?

Well, we at SoB have some suggestions, ranging from the “been there, done that” to the “now we’re getting somewhere”:

Amazing Handshakes

Too simple. Too easy. Too could-just-as-easily-be-the-Marlins. Between Jonny Gomes’s sprinkler moves, Koji Uehara’s high fives, and David Ortiz’s everything, the Red Sox are going to have amazing handshakes regardless.

Catchphrase

I could see the Red Sox forming their identity through a word or catchphrase that shapes the course of the season, much like the 2008 champion Celtics were “Ubuntu” and the 2004 Red Sox were “Why Not Us?”/”The Idiots” during their postseason run. My only concern is how to make one of these verbal identities last through all 162 games of a MLB regular season. I’m not sure it can be done.

Mustachios

Obviously, this far too closely related to last year’s stunt team-bonding identity. Any sort of hair-related identity (even fauxhawks, especially when you add the three shaved lines fad during the playoffs) is pretty much off the table, as far as I’m concerned. But it’s a shame, because a team-wide commitment — nay, dedication — to the fu manchu, or the handlebar, or the horseshoe/Hulk Hogan, or the ’70s pornstar mustache would be awesome. So many possibilities for dugout celebrations, marketing opportunities (Pistachios, anyone?), and fans laughing at Xander Bogaerts attempt to grow facial hair.

 

Tattoos

Okay, it’s a little absurd to think you’d have to get inked up in the name of team-bonding. Although not quite as absurd when you consider Jonny Gomes actually got this tattoo for forever, so really this is what Kevin Garnett was talking about. But after reading this article on a recent promotion the Memphis Grizzlies put on handing out temporary neck tattoos, I got the idea that maybe these Red Sox could be into some temporary ink. That way Xander Bogaerts can just stamp on one of the temporary finger mustache tattoos and not feel bad about not being able to pull off a ’70s porn ‘stache.

The Return of the Cigar Store Indian

The Cigar Store Indian would seem to violate the mantra of not repeating last year’s superstitions, but come on — how could you not bring back the Cigar Store Indian? (For those who are extremely confused, a quick back story: Jake Peavy bought the thing in San Francisco because the Red Sox had lost four of six — two of three to the dreaded Yankees — and he’s part Indian and this was the most logical pick-me-up for a team dragging from too much travel.)

I’ll admit it’s a thin line since the Cigar Store Indian made its appearance last season and the goal is to turn the page and refocus on a 2014 World Series run. But the Indian didn’t factor in until August, and why wouldn’t you want to carry over a little mojo from the magical 2013 World Series? Everyone talks about experience in the playoffs, and the Cigar Store Indian would already know what it takes to win the World Series. A new clubhouse centerpiece and 26th man would not.

Even if the Cigar Store Indian is declared ineligible for the 2014 season, something like it would be fantastic. Who would say no to Xander Bogaerts and/or Jackie Bradley Jr. toting around a garden gnome/wooden bear/cheruby cupid statue and making sure he comes on every road trip?

What do you think the Red Sox should do to unify the team this year?

About Nick Bohlen - @ndbohlen

Nick is an editor and regular contributor for the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox sections of SoB. (Despite growing up in Vermont, just a short drive from Canada, hockey never really caught on with him.) Follow him on twitter: @ndbohlen

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