Here is a link to my Friday column about Jake Peavy. The full text runs below:
WASHINGTON — Jake Peavy is a wild person.
He will be the Giants’ starting pitcher Friday against the Nationals and Stephen Strasburg in the first game of the Division Series. When you watch Peavy from the stands or the dugout or on television, you see him talking to himself on the mound.
Well, “talking” doesn’t quite cut it. “Raging” would be more like it. The man will rage. And shriek. And go bonkers. This screamer is the second-most important starting pitcher in the Giants’ rotation. Let’s not be coy here. Let’s state the truth.
He is No. 2 to Madison Bumgarner’s emphatic No. 1, and he ranks above Tim Hudson, Yusmeiro Petit, Ryan Vogelsong. He would rank above Matt Cain, if Cain were here. And he ranks above Tim Lincecum, who isn’t even a starter anymore.
On Thursday, Peavy and Lincecum walked together into the visiting clubhouse, changed clothes at adjoining lockers. You couldn’t help but notice one is up and the other is down. Poignant.
The Giants would be sunk without Peavy, raging or not raging. He did for the Giants what Jon Lester was supposed to do for the A’s. He turned the ballclub around and now he faces Strasburg — a big responsibility and a resplendent honor.
Listen to Brandon Crawford talk about Peavy — this was at Thursday’s clubhouse media session: “I mean, he’s intense,” Crawford said. “He’s yelling at himself all the time.”
Does he yell at his infielders?
“I don’t think so.” Crawford smiled. “I think he’s yelling at himself. I hope so.”
Was Crawford familiar with Peavy before he joined the Giants in July?
“I actually played against him in spring training. He threw a ball against me and he started yelling and I looked back at him like, ‘Man, is he yelling at me? What’s going on?’ I think he was just yelling at himself. He’d made a bad pitch.”
Does Crawford ever feel like laughing at Peavy during games?
“A little bit, yeah.”
Crawford thought about that last answer, then added, “He’s such an easygoing guy in here, an easy guy to talk to in the clubhouse. I mean, you know what he’s going to be like but you know you can still talk to him. He’s not unreasonable even though he’s yelling at himself.”
Let’s recap. Peavy has two personalities — fairly common with athletes. On-the-field Jake is a borderline maniac. Off-the-field Jake is calm and balanced, a good listener. Obviously, on-the-field Jake needs to be half-cracked to succeed.
Someone asked Crawford when Peavy actually begins his yelling routine — a matter of some debate in the clubhouse. “It’s like the first pitch of the inning to the leadoff hitter,” Crawford said, “and he’s yelling at himself already.”
Let’s avoid confusion. Peavy does not shriek at teammates. He’s a good teammate. He shrieks at himself. Call him a self-admonisher. He berates himself for doing things wrong, does it as a form of auto-correction.
A reporter asked Hudson for his impression of when Peavy starts screaming.
“I think 20 minutes before he goes out to the bullpen. But he’s not weird or anything.”
Has Hudson ever heard Peavy yelling?
“I think the whole stadium hears it. He gets excited out there when he don’t make a pitch. It’s more of a grumble.”
Peavy came to an interview room and sat behind a table on a stage. He avoided grumbling. He smiled. He wore glasses so thick you couldn’t see his eyeballs — he pitches with contacts. On his inside left forearm you could read the word “Outsider.”
He explained on-the-field Jake. “Sometimes, I will be yelling before I turn the ball loose, knowing I am not in the right position to make the pitch the way it needs to be. I strive for perfection. I get upset when I don’t do that. I have to emotionally let it go and move on to the next pitch. A lot of stuff I am saying to myself is reminders and stuff I need to know.”
Peavy grew thoughtful, considered how he sounded. “Once that comes out, I promise you there is a thought process over the next 15 seconds of situations in a game, batter, what we do next.”
In other words, he may appear like a lunatic, but there’s a method to his madness.
And then this. “You know, I have children at home. I understand the role-model aspect of things. I promise you, I will do everything I can NOT to say a cussword (Friday). I can’t promise I won’t. People think I am out yelling cussword after cussword. I’ll end up saying ‘God bless it’ a lot, and that ends up being a phrase that teammates throw back at me, making fun and jabbing me.”
God bless it. That’s it? That’s what bad-boy Peavy says? God bless it. The phrase hardly registers on the all-time cussword scale. It’s not even close to @#%&!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Speaking of cusswords, let’s segue to the mini-controversy between the Giants and Nationals. It involves a cuss concept, not exactly a cussword.
After the Giants eliminated the Pirates, Hudson said of the Washington Nationals, “Obviously, they have a talented group over there, there’s no question. They have some great pitching. But come playoff time, talent can take you a long ways, but what do you have between your legs? That’s going to take you real far. And I think we’ve got a group in here that really has some of that.”
Oh, my, how do I write about this?
I don’t mean to get anatomical, although Hudson sure meant to. This area of the anatomy is clearly something Peavy has brought to the team — in a metaphorical sense. Hudson has, too. The Nationals, as you can imagine, took offense at Hudson’s remarks. They thought he, umm, meant they lacked some body part or other.
Hudson tried to end the controversy on Thursday: “I was referring to our team,” he said. “On paper, we may not match up with a lot of people but the guts and the heart this team has and what they have between their legs will get this team over the hump. By no means did I refer to them not having it.”
Please don’t ask me for a translation.
I will make one helpful suggestion, though. If the Nationals express dissatisfaction with the Giants because of the aforementioned anatomical reference, some Giants player — preferably Peavy — can gently reply, “God bless it.”
That always seems to work.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.