This spring, Espinosa arrived at spring training with a beard darker and shorter than Rip Van Winkle’s, but more substantial than Lincoln’s, one that seemed to come straight out of the mountains and straight into legend.
During last weekend’s exhibition games, and initially when the Nationals returned home last week, Espinosa’s picture on the jumbotron included that beard. Suddenly, Monday evening, it did not.
Danny Espinosa deferred comment on the issue before Tuesday’s game.
“All I’ll say is it wasn’t my decision,” said Espinosa, smiling. A Nationals spokesperson initially declined comment. Later, realizing the hairy situation was escalating quickly with media inquiries and Twitter outrage, the Nationals issued a statement from General Manager Mike Rizzo.
“This was my decision. I reserve the right to choose the player photos we use on the scoreboard during the game,” said Rizzo in that statement.
Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and others sport beards, on the field and in their pictures. None of those beards, however, rivaled Espinosa’s. Perhaps, for those razor-sharp conspiracy theorists out there, Rizzo is just taking the hit for others in the organization who favor less ridiculous pictures. Perhaps, he did not want the hilarity of Espinosa’s beard — and frankly, it always inspired a few laughs — to overshadow professionalism. Perhaps it is a testament to these 2016 Nationals that the greatest controversy of their season surrounds a Jumbotron picture, clean-shaven now, destined to be remembered forever.