Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The life of a pitcher can get pretty boring between assignments--especially in the bullpen where hurlers have resorted to drastic measures to pass the time. A fact that is lost on laymen: By the time players get to the major leagues, they have literally watched thousands of games (from the bench or the field) and don't necessarily consider the sport to be entertaining anymore. That's why relievers have traditionally occupied themselves in creative ways such as tending miniature vegetable gardens, playing elaborate jokes on teammates or, in some cases, performing scientific experiments. In his book, Ball Four, Jim Bouton admitted to abusing ethyl chloride--a freezing agent used to numb bruises and abrasions. The colorful moundsman sprayed the substance on various crawling insects and observed their reactions. After a myriad of trials, he concluded that, following a period of suspended animation, the creatures thaw and resume their normal activities.
Thank you, Dr. Bouton.
Starters work every four or five days and are just as prone to the summer doldrums as relief pitchers. Dodger right-hander Brad Penny evidently had a lot of time on his hands in 2006, when he challenged Marlins’ bat boy Nick Cirillo to drink a gallon of milk in an hour without throwing up. Cirillo carefully considered the dare before accepting it, even consulting an EMT. When he expressed concerns to Penny about getting in trouble, the hurler responded: “How are you going to get in trouble for drinking milk?” With $500 at stake, Cirillo finished the entire gallon in fifty nine minutes, but lost the bet when he vomited outside the clubhouse shortly afterward. The Marlins suspended him for six games, drawing the attention of David Letterman, who interviewed Cirillo on his show. “It would be all right if he was gooned on steroids,” the veteran host sympathized. “He’s full of milk and they suspend the poor kid.”