[NOTE: I composed this on Tuesday, May 10th, but didn't post it until Wednesday, May 11th. All "yesterdays" should read as "day-before-yesterdays." What? I'm lazy, and I take two days to post, what can I say?]
When my wife asked about a Nats outfielder a few years back, I told her he didn't have a great bat, but he played very good defense. She then said, "What's his name?"
"Ryan Langerhans," was my reply.
"Oh, so that's why he's good defensively. He has longer hands than others."
Skip to a few years later, and Joel Hanrahan is moved to the bullpen. He turns out to be a really fan friendly guy, and always had a smile and a wave for us at games. Somehow, playing off the Langerhans/Longer Hands thing, I did what I always do... drag things out way too far until they no longer resemble anything that is even remotely funny/charming/chuckle-worthy, etc. Yes, I actually tried to play "Hanrahan" into "Hammer Hands." (Ah, this reeks of deja vu, as I can see every single person reading this scrunching up their foreheads and mouthing, "Hammer Hands? What the fuck...??") You see, he threw super hard, so I tried to play his name into something witty about his hands, like my wife did with Ryan's name years earlier, hence "Hammer Hands."
Well, when I excitedly yelled it to Joel, it went over as well as... well... Ryan Church in Israel. But, dammit, I made it up, and I was gonna stick with it. To this very day, I always call Joel Hanrahan "Joel Hammer Hands."
Do I have a point here? You best believe I do. You see, Joel won the Pittsburgh Pirates closer gig this year, and I always make a point to check in on him and how he's doing. So, imagine my delight when MLB network cut to their game last night versus the Dodgers. Joel was in for the 9th, a save situation. He ended up with the save after their third baseman, Pedro Alvarez, made a great diving stop and throw to first for the third out. I then noticed that Pedro's hat looked weird.
Yeah... dude wears his ears inside his hat. Now, I thought it was odd, and shook my head while saying something to myself about "kids" and "get of my lawn," but I wanted to see if I was in the minority on this. So... I took the opportunity to call the visitors clubhouse in Atlanta today to see if it was something baseball kids (Alvarez is 24) were doing, and if I should just shrug it off and accept it. Well, who was the first person to pick up?
Yup, it was good ol' Matty Stairs. So I dove right in there. "Matt," I said, "Have you seen th..."
"It's Mr. Stairs."
"Mr. Stairs. You should show some respect for your elders, and call me Mr. Stairs."
"But, I'm 35-years-..."
"Do I look like I give a shit, son? 35? I got bats older than that."
"Well, maybe if you swung them during your plate appearances, you might make contact with the ball, and wear your bats out sooner."
"Oh, you're a God damn funny man, huh? How would you like it if I rap you upside your skull with one of my Louisville Sluggers you were just making fun of? Huh, Buster Brown?"
"I wouldn't like that at all, Sir."
"Good. Hang on a second, whipper-snapper."
At this point his voice got muffled as it sounded like he was putting his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone. I couldn't make out the entire conversation, but it sounded something like: "Don't you dare turn off NCIS, you no respect having punk. What? For shit's sake, LaRoche... don't make me put you over my knee and whoop you like the bratty snot-nosed kid you are. Do I make myself clear, boy? Good, now go get me my prune juice and leave the T.V. the fuck alone. CBS has quality programming!"
"Alright, what the hell did you want again?" he asked.
"Well, Mr. Stairs, have you seen Pedro Alvarez in Pittsburgh? If so, do you have any comment on how he wears his hat?"
"Pedro who now? No, don't know him. Hang on one second as I get one of the kids around here to pull up a picture of him on that portable picture machines they all have these days."
The phone gets muffled a bit again, but I can hear the majority of the conversation, and it went a little something like this: "Hey, Stankiel! Yeah, you, Ricky. You got one of those i paddle thingies on you? What? Okay, okay... whatever... iPad/i paddle. Pull up a picture of that Alvarez kid on the Pirates. You got it? Good, lemme see that picture now, son... HOLY HELL!"
Matt's voice came back on the line with a terse "You still there, kid?"
"Yes, sir... Still here, Mr. Stairs."
"Listen, thanks for bringing this to my attention. Now, I need to book a flight to Pittsburgh ASAP. Gotta go."
"You're going to Pittsburgh right this instant? Over how a kid wears his hat?"
"No, son. Shoot, I don't care how the youngsters wear their stuff. I've become numb over the years with all their backwards hats, eye black, flat brims, and pajama pants. No, I just remembered that I need to go to Pittsburgh to see my accountant. My Social Security payments are about to kick in, and I wanna make sure he's got my first payment for my R.V. all ready to go."