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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The Second-Most Feared Player

Let's say you're a major league pitcher. Better yet, let's say you're a major league closer. You've just entered the game in the bottom of the ninth, and the skipper's asked you to protect a one-run lead and get your team the W. Who's the last guy you want to see stepping into the batter's box to start off your inning?

Barry Bonds is the obvious answer, and because you know you're going to be told to walk him, who's next on your list?

I'm going to throw out a name that might seem a little unusual here, but how about Juan Pierre?

I really think Frenchy gets in a pitcher's head better than any hitter in the bigs this side of Barry Bonds. Hear me out here, and tell me you disagree.

.305. 65. 100. That's his batting average, stolen base total, and runs scored last season, if you're wondering. And here's what that means to me, the pitcher.

J.P.'s going to slap an infield hit to shortstop, then make me throw over to first base seven times to keep him close, and I'll have to pitch out twice for good measure. So right now, I've thrown the ball 10 times, minimum, and I'm in a 2-0 hole to Luis Castillo with no outs and the most dangerous baserunner in the league dancing off first.

Now let's say I finally throw Castillo a strike, only to see Pierre swipe second. Then Castillo, who led the majors in sacrifice hits last season, bunts Pierre over to third. Bang, just like that, tying run on third with one out, and Mike Lowell and Miguel Cabrera are next in the order.

I'm pretty convinced that Pierre gets in a pitcher's head by doing this over and over, because I've seen how the Phillies deal with him, and it usually works out about that way. I would love to see him in a Phils uniform, batting leadoff, because Larry Bowa sure needs a consistent presence at the top of the order, not to mention it would get him out of Florida, where he continues to kill Philly.

Pierre is the anti-Bonds in the sense that he won't drive the dagger in your heart with one swing of the bat. It's more like having the dagger slowly pushed in and twisted. At least with Bonds, you either walk him or he smokes your pitch into the next zip code. Pierre makes the agony of a save being blown last an entire inning.

***

Is there a worse hairstyle in the world than the comb-over? The mullet gets a lot of press, and it's almost glorified in the sense that it's cool (think Joe Dirt) to rock it Republican in the front, Democrat in the back. But the comb-over just looks bad.

Face it. You're bald. You can put some abnormally long strands of hair across your bald spot, but you're not fooling anyone. And if you get caught in a gust of wind, forget it. You're gonna look like a flagpole.

If you're sporting a comb-over, do yourself a favor. Cut the offending hair. Go MJ-style and shave it all off. Get a toupee. Do something. But for God's sake, stop combing over.

***

ESPN's NBA playoff commercials feature a catchy tune by the Black Eyed Peas called "Let's Get It Started." Only problem is, that's not what the song is really called. The album version of the song goes, "Let's Get Retarded."

I actually like the commercial version of the song better than the original. And I haven't seen the video for "Let's Get Retarded," but apparently the "video" for "Let's Get It Started" is a lot better, too, from what I've heard.

***

In yesterday's Montreal Expos game notes, I found the following note about recent call-up Valentino Pascucci:

"Joins the likes of John Boccabella, Archi Cianfrocco, Razor Shines, Boots Day and Coco Laboy in the Expos' strange names category."

Two thoughts on this: First, Pascucci needs to do something to distinguish himself quickly, because that note needs to be replaced with one about an actual on-field accomplishment. Second, where's the love for perhaps my favorite Expo name: F.P. Santangelo?

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