Brian Wilson and Beard (a proper name) have been the best dynamic duo that Major League Baseball has seen since a roided out Jose Canseco first discovered horse tranquilizers (unverified, but probably true). And now it looks as though the psychopath at the back end of the Giants bullpen will be out for the year as he goes under the knife for his second Tommy John surgery (he had one in college as well). If you love entertaining crazy people, this should make you unspeakably sad. If you love beards that house smaller birds and varmints, this should make you unspeakably sad. And yeah, if you love baseball this should make you unspeakable sad.
If baseball’s greatest sin is being boring, then Wilson has spent the last four years being its penance. He’s Major League’s “Wild Thing” for a Tim and Eric generation. His beard alone has 44,000 likes on Facebook. He went to the Espy’s wearing a tuxedo body stocking that looks like it was purchased at a porn video store. He had a sex slave he called The Machine stand behind him during interviews. And while all of this dadaistic madness was happening, he was busy being really fucking good at closing baseball games.
That’s the thing that’s made the Brian Wilson era in San Francisco so much fun. Wilson is a great baseball player. There’s a long tradition of moderately successful players embracing weirdness for visibility’s sake (their modern day successor is Nyjer Morgan, who is far weirder than he is talented). But Wilson’s different. He’s a star who chose to be that thing that so many brand-conscious athletes spend all their time trying to avoid. He chose to be interesting.
So now I find myself in the rare position of being sad that a guy who doesn’t play for my team (real or fantasy), or even in my team’s league (real or fantasy), won’t be around this year. I care. I give a shit, and it’s not like I watch a lot of Giants baseball. But this is a blow for a sport that I love. Baseball desperately needs guys who are willing to be their weird, bizarre selves. It needs to be interesting, beyond just the scores and the pennant races.
So players of the Major Leagues, you’ve been put on notice. Entertain us. Be crazy. Sing Adele between pitches. Do weird dances. Create new routines. Talk at length about Wile E. Coyote. Get in fights. Do it for Brian Wilson. Do it for Beard. I’d say do it for The Machine, but I’m not sure if he cares. Brian doesn’t really let him talk much.