October 28, 2010

Department of Brian Wilson: New York Times Profiles Brian Wilson

Back to Brian Wilson. He was brought in last night (game one of the World Series in San Francisco) at the very end of the ninth, let a few more runs in, and then ended the game with the bizarre score 11-7. The New York Times today includes a profile of Brian Wilson, here's a lengthy excerpt:

Relief pitchers have tended to be odd, with closers typically occupying the far end of that spectrum. Brian Wilson, the San Francisco Giants’ closer, is one of the oddest.

Start with the easy stuff, like his physical appearance. There’s the hair, part mohawk and part mullet; the tattoos; and the perpetually unbuttoned jersey.

There are the bright orange spikes, for which he was fined $1,000 by Major League Baseball because they failed to conform to the standard of being at least 50 percent black. (He brought them up to code with a marker.)

And there is his preternaturally black beard — dyed several shades darker than the rest of his hair with what appears to be industrial-grade shoe polish — which has inspired five Facebook pages and a marketing campaign. The slogan “Fear the Beard” adorns any number of T-shirts in Giants souvenir stands.

It is what is behind the beard, however, that gives Wilson his edge.

He is an entertaining interview: on Jim Rome’s radio show this summer he claimed to be a certified ninja and a mental assassin. He has explored his roots in the off-season by backpacking through Ireland (staying at hostels) and India (where he showed cricket players how he throws a 95-mile-per-hour fastball).

More recently, he earned attention for interviews that could have doubled as performance art. In one, a nearly naked man strolled across the background as Wilson was interviewed live via satellite from his house.

But what gives Wilson more depth and makes him more intriguing is his manner inside the Giants’ clubhouse. There he makes extraordinary efforts to fit in, and to draw in others. Notably, he is a regular at the Latino-dominated dominoes table in the locker room. On the outstanding and colorful Boston Red Sox teams of 2003 and 2004, Kevin Millar was the ringleader who went out of his way to make sure his Hispanic teammates were involved. A half-decade later, Wilson appears to have the same instincts.

“These are your teammates,” Wilson said. “It doesn’t matter what country they’re from. It doesn’t matter what language they speak. It doesn’t matter what they wear. It’s impossible for me not to say hello to everybody, not to have a conversation. It’s the way I am. It’s the way the whole team is. You have all the different personalities on all sides, and they’re all yelling at each other and meeting in the middle.”

If Wilson has his say, the Giants will win a championship sometime in the next 10 days, the first for the organization since 1954, four years before it moved to San Francisco.

That would leave one outstanding goal for their closer before next spring training.

“I’d like to be a crossword clue one day,” he said. “I want to be in The New York Times’s Sunday edition. Right now, the clue ‘Giants great’ is always Mel Ott. I want my clue to be down, not across. The down ones are usually harder. And when I’m the clue, I’ll fill it in — just that one — and frame it.

“How sweet would that be?”

1 comment:

Tào Nam said...

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