Our weekly dispatch from the nation's foremost mustache expert.

Brendan RyanThe 2009 Major League Baseball season was one to remember for St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan.

Previously an also-ran utility infielder, Ryan transformed his play after growing an award-winning lip sweater. His facial hair coincided with his receiving All-Star consideration, displaying Gold Glove–caliber defense and hitting for a .292 average as the Cardinals everyday shortstop. Last year, loyal fans would flock to Busch Stadium wearing "Respect the 'Stache" shirts.

His lower nose accoutrement also brought him the love and adoration of the Mustached American community. The American Mustache Institute encouraged Cardinals fans to vote for Ryan for the 2009 Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year. (The honor ultimately went to Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Clay Zavada.)

This season has been another story altogether for Ryan.

He reported to spring training this year minus his glorious mouth cabana. He brought his nasal flossery back for a short stint in a bout of desperation early this summer. It simply wasn't enough, as American Mustache Institute director of research Dr. Daniel Callahan noted May 26.

"It's a sorry state of affairs," said Dr. Callahan in an AMI blog post. "At some point Americans must realize that our lust for performance cannot be periodic or fleeting, but consistent and unflinching."

The proof has been in the proverbial pudding: Ryan's batting average has plunged to .225 this season, he's been in and out of manager Tony LaRussa's lineup all year, and no longer are brave organizations or countless fans demonstrating support for him.

Possibly this coming off-season, Ryan should ponder what the mustache has done in recent years for the likes of former teammate Rick Ankiel, recreational steroids user Jason Giambi or, most recently, Carl Pavano of the Minnesota Twins.

And as the lip sweater has been recognized by scientists and the midget community as the ultimate athletic-performance enhancer, Ryan must consider why he chose to remove his greatest asset, as well as consider how he can best seek the forgiveness of the Mustached American community and the Cardinals nation, both of which he has sorely disappointed.


For Dr. Abraham J. Froman's mustache perspective, check in every Wednesday on Asylum.