With the San Francisco Giants 8.5 games out of first place with just 16 games remaining in the regular season, the defending world champs face many significant questions as they head into the offseason.
One of those questions, though not directly related to the club's performance on the field (or is it?), is the subject of The Beard.
We're all familiar with the tale behind the outgrowth of the massive and formidable jet-black monster that resides on the chin of San Francisco's All-Star closer.
Brian Wilson began to grow it in 2010 as the Giants approached the stretch run in their race to make the postseason. He told teammates he wouldn't shave it until the Giants were eliminated from contention.
And we all know how that went.
After the Giants won their first world championship in 56 years, Wilson continued to grow the beard into the offseason and arrived at spring training 2011 with it having doubled in size.
Wilson was apparently very serious about his commitment to growing the beard until the Giants were eliminated from playoff contention, even if it meant the next year.
Well, now it looks as if it's finally going to happen. The Arizona Diamondbacks are running away with the National League West, and following a frustrating season of injuries and setbacks (including two for Wilson himself), the clock is ticking on San Francisco's season.
So, will Wilson shave the beard should the Giants be eliminated later this month? And if so, will there be some sort of official ceremony to commemorate the occasion, closing the book on one of the most famous locks of facial hair in baseball history?
Ah, the questions that face the Giants as they approach the offseason. With all of the serious issues for the club to consider, make some time to put all of those aside come the end of September, because something far more important for the moment may be on the horizon.
The Beard will forever be linked with the first World Series championship ever won in San Francisco and might just end up in a showcase somewhere.
The Hall of Fame? AT&T Park? The living room of a rich Giants fan with the winning bid at auction?
One thing's for certain: The Beard was integral to the world championship in 2010, and it will always have its rightful place in San Francisco Giants lore.