There is an old cliché that says sports are supposed to be an escape from real life. When all of the harshness of the real world starts getting you down, there is always the pure goodness of sports to cheer you back up. These days, though, sports don’t really seem all that uplifting. With the NFL’s brain-damaged vets, the MLB’s Alex Rodriguez, and everything about all of college sports constantly disappointing us, SportsCenter feels a lot more like the local news than a bright and cheery vacation from the real world (and the local news these days seems a lot more like an episode of Gangland).
It is for this reason that I say, thank God for Brian Wilson. In a world where most of his coworkers take the concept of throwing a ball towards people with wooden sticks WAY too seriously, Wilson seems determined to bring as little seriousness to the world as possible.
His interviews are an exercise in patience for reporters, as he transitions free from whatever question was asked of him to hair styles to massage parlors to sailors to whatever else pops into his head. In many interviews, he includes his friend known only as the Machine – a large man in S&M leather bondage gear. He has claimed that his beard is jet black (despite his brown hair) because it tans during day games, that he was fined because his bright orange cleats were “too much awesome on [his] feet”, and that he became a certified ninja after studying the art for 12 minutes – in a dream. At times, he even talks about baseball.
This is not to say he doesn’t care about pitching. Wilson has overcome two Tommy John surgeries in his career and has still become a two-time World Champion with a solid chance at a third World Series this year. Wilson does care about baseball, is good at it, and still only seems to make the news for his play and harmless shenanigans. Why can’t more players be like that?
It is for this reason that I was personally devastated when I read about a razor company offering Wilson over a million dollars to shave his now iconic jet black beard. Although the grizzly thing has grown to lengths that would make the cast of Duck Dynasty cringe, and even includes a little rat tail at the end, it would be a shame – if not tragedy – to see the symbol of Wilson’s lighthearted lunacy go. Still, who in their right mind would turn down a million dollars to shave? Remember, he is a relief pitcher – his value to the team falls somewhere between those of the bullpen coach and batboy. That little trim would earn him more than double what he will make this entire season.
Luckily, as you might have guessed, Wilson is not in his right mind. Wilson declined the offer in a statement released by the pitcher’s representation and another released by his beard. The facial hair’s statement of “I DON’T CARE HOW MUCH MONEY’S ON THE TABLE … NOBODY’S CUTTING ME” was soon followed by a statement reassuring all of us that Wilson refuses to even trim it, and that the beard is going with him to the grave.
Despite my concern, it turns out things are going pretty much as usual in the life of Brian.
If we have learned anything in the past few years, it is that we cannot always trust the public image that pro athletes put out. In reality, Wilson could be a total jerk, or a cheater, or a serial killer (that Machine guy is a little disconcerting). Still, in a world where so much of sports news is bad news, I think we should all take a moment and just appreciate a guy who is willing to sacrifice one million dollars just to continue to look like a hobo.
That is as good of an escape from reality as any.
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