Buttons, me and Mike Napoli


I’m going to be bold and say that Bull Durham is the best baseball movie ever made. I mean, even as a guy who likes who likes chicks—and I love chicks—Kevin Costner was so goddamn handsome as Crash Davis in the movie that it makes me blush.

But Bull Durham triumphs for me not as merely as movie, but a map for living my life.

For example, every time I’m slumping with a piece of writing, I put on a garter belt and, suddenly, I’m not thinking about the words. I’m just typing like I’m freakin’ Faulkner. But I’m not wearing female undergarments in a strange Rocky Horror Picture Show-way. I’m able snap my garters under my desk like a man secure in his sexuality.

Also, at the beginning of every season, like Annie Savoy, I choose one Red Sox player— exclusively—and commit myself to them for the season. First of all, in case it was unclear, I dig chicks, women, babes, broads, breasts and stuff. So when I say “commit myself,” I don’t mean that I want to paint a Red Sox player’s toenails in a bubble bath with candles burning on the ledges of the tub.

No way. I dig chicks, so get that out of your head.

In years past, choosing my player has been as simple as trying on a dress. For example, Jon Lester…duh. And committing one season to Jacoby Ellsbury was another no-brainer. In fact, I gave Ellsbury a nickname: Buttons. But I only called him Buttons when I was watching the games at home, alone. And even then, the nickname wasn’t meant to be said in a cutesy fan-boy way; rather it was said in a deep, brusque dude-voice: “Way to go, Buttons.”

This year, however, it has been a struggle to find my player. I have the classic “Crash vs. Nuke LaLoosh” dilemma. On one hand, there is Will Middlebrooks, who is young and fresh-faced. Middlebrooks has slumped early, unable to hit pitches off the plate, but he comes around in sprays, and I’m hoping he’ll steady the ship. On the other hand, there’s journeyman Mike Napoli, who started the season sizzling but has cooled off considerably, striking out more than Don Orsillo with Jenny Dell (rim-shot).

In other words, both players need me like Nuke needed Annie.

So after a month of a deliberation, and serious consultations with my wife, I’ve decided that I’m committing myself to Mike Napoli this season. I know, he has looked miserable both at the plate and on the field lately, but I’m betting on the fact that he is going own Fenway this summer with my committed support.

The deciding factor for Napoli was, again, buttons. I really like the way Mike Napoli leaves the top two buttons on his jersey undone, exposing his rugged chest and the thick gold chain that only a big, burly Italian man dripping with machismo could pull off.

Not that I notice that kind of thing. Like I said, I dig chicks. And while I can’t call Mike Napoli “Buttons” because I already called Ellsbury “Buttons,” I acknowledge that it would be a more fitting nickname for Napoli. So instead, I’m going to call him Unbuttons. But in a total dude-way, like, “Yo’, Unbuttons, can you pass me a beer?”

Because I dig chicks and I’ve never once thought about painting Mike Napoli’s toenails in a bubble bath. Never.