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Game 24: Sox @ Twins

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One wonders how much of ex-Sox Pierzynski's "jerkiness" is a put-on.

"Hats off" to Ed Zurga. GET IT? Seriously, nice pic, Zurga.
"Hats off" to Ed Zurga. GET IT? Seriously, nice pic, Zurga.
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
When: 1:10 CST (7:10 GMT)
Weather: Partly Cloudy, High Near 79
TV: FSN. Radio: Why TF not?

Our old buddy, A.J. Pierzynski, doesn't play for the White Sox anymore. He's with the unfortunately surnamed Braves, now, still platooning at catcher.

When Minnesota traded A.J. to the Giants, I spoke with a friend, a Giants fan, who's taught me tons about baseball. We riffed about Joe Nathan (my friend thought "that kid might be good") and Pierzynski. I wondered why Pierzynski got hit by pitches all the time. Perhaps he was standing too close to the plate.

"A catcher?" my friend laughed. "Getting hit that much? It's payback for how much shit he talks back there."

A.J.'s never stopped talking shit. Here's an typically ESPN-y video of him talking shit -- literally, involving pooping one's pants and farting:

The key thing worth noting here is I found that video on the front page of a site promoting A.J. for speaking appearances.

Who is this lunatic? And, is he serious?

I suspect he's probably kinda annoying. At one point, he was voted the most hated player in baseball. Wiki's page says A.J. was considered a clubhouse cancer in Boston -- although, since the Red Sox own a history of turding on recently departed employees, I don't know how seriously to take that last.

Pierzynski dabbled in professional wrestling. As others have noted, fake wrestling (with its very real dangers) is about Good and Evil. There's no in between.

And the public personas of athletes are not real. Those are creations of sports journalism that athletes go along with, because they're too busy practicing or rehabbing nagging injuries to argue. Recently retired Derek Jeter has helped bankroll a media source where athletes can control their own spin -- meaning, agents write stuff and athletes pretend to have said it, which usually only occurs after new contracts or drug/crime suspensions.

As a sports figure/celebrity, why not maximize your media presence? If you can't be fake loved, then be fake hated. It makes sense to me.

Pierzynski's negative rep is probably somewhat deserved, but the positive rep of many players isn't exactly canonical truth, either. Insiders like Jim Bouton or Dick Hayhurst describe a culture much closer to being full of A.J.s than full of genuinely kind Mariano Rivera types. Athletes with the testosterone levels of wild boars in rut are going to behave super-competitively. Pitchers will throw inside, batters crowd the plate. It's about intimidating your opponent. Not so endearing, but part of the sport.

Anthony James is a little different because he's more honest about this. Most guys who run over another player or plunk a pitch right into his butt will say they weren't trying to be mean. They usually were trying, and it's considered normal to fib. Pierzynski doesn't fib. Nor, to my knowledge, has he ever whined about players doing dirty stuff to him, or picked a fight with someone half his size.

(Basketball superstar Shaquille O'Neal, who Godzilla-mauled other players with his sheer bulk, would occasionally get fouled hard from a defender nearly as big, and more than once I saw him retaliate by turning and shoving some small dude. A.J. reminds me more of Charles Barkley, a bruiser and "bad guy" who wasn't a bully.)

Bad guys serve a function: they make everyone else look better. A.J. may or may not be a fool. I'm guessing he isn't.

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Tricky Ricky returns to the Twins today. Hector Noesi pitches for the Sox. They picked him up off waivers last year, and he's been sorta your typical end-of rotation guy. His numbers:

When ERA WHIP K/9 FIP ERA+
Other teams (3+ seasons, 97 games) 5.16 1.44 6.4 4.88 76
White Sox (1+ season, 30 games) 4.44 1.34 6.5 4.91 87

In limited at-bats, Plouffe, Santana, and Escobar have done well against Noesi, Arcia has not. (Thanks as always, BBRef!)

Lineups. Adam Eaton has the flu, don't kiss him. Note Arcia's return to RF.

Da Sox Twins
J.B. Shuck, CF Brian Dozier, 2B
Melky Cabrera, LF Tori Spelling, DH
Jose Abreu, 1B Joe Mauer, 1B
Adam LaRoche, DH Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Avisail Garcia, RF Kurt Suzuki, C
Alexei Ramirez, SS Eduardo Escobar, LF
Conor Gilaspie, 3B Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Geovany Soto, C Jordan Schafer, CF
Micah Johnson, 2B Danny Santana, SS