Do not adjust your television screens: That IS Joe Mauer and he DOES have a beard
Do not adjust your TVs: Joe Mauer has grown a beard
Have no fear, good citizens of the world, there is nothing to be alarmed about. Sure, you may have turned on a Twins game sometime in the last week and noticed some bearded individual striding to the plate under Joe Mauer's name.
You may have thought about alerting the authorities to the imposter in their midst. You may even have considered running for the nearest 1950s bomb shelter because clearly the invasion of the pod people had begun. I mean, yes, beards have spread across Major League faces like an invasive disease, but surely Mauer and his corn-fed farm boy sideburns would be spared, right?
Not so much. Here are the three eras of Mauer (Proto-Mauer, Golden Age Mauer, Post-Modern Mauer):
But what caused this? Was Mauer trying to give himself a bad-boy image? Did he want to market his own perfume, Eau de Ice Fishing? Was he trying to cover up a poorly planned late-night face tattoo?
No, this is Mauer we're talking about. As the first baseman told MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger earlier this year, he grew out the beard for the most practical purposes: he thought it would be good protection from the cold Minnesota April. And being practical is the opposite of trendy.