Okay I admit it; I absolutely hated to see former Giants closer Brian Wilson enter any game against the Dodgers, because when he did, it usually meant two things: one – that the Dodgers were trailing because Wilson was usually only brought in for save situations; and two – he usually got the save.
I also admit that because of my life-long hatred of the Giants, I only have three baseballs autographed by Giants players and Brian Wilson is one of them. Now before you go on a “how could you” tirade, allow me to explain: it was four years ago and it was on a beat-up BP ball, not on a brand new $14 baseball. My line of thinking at the time was (and pretty much still is) that anyone who can throw a baseball at 100+ MPH is okay in my books, and Wilson did so on a regular basis back then. Now granted, he probably never will again, especially since he underwent his second Tommy John surgery this past season; but still, hitting 100 is pretty impressive. (By the way, the other two are Matt Cain and Pablo Sandoval, both of whom made baseball history in 2012 – in case you were wondering).
Wilson was born in Winchester, Massachusetts and raised in Londonderry, New Hampshire. He rarely talks about his childhood except about his father Mike Wilson, an Air Force veteran who Brian says was a demanding perfectionist.
“I think that’s how you need to be raised,” said Wilson during a 2011 interview. “It’s not your friend, it’s your dad and he’s going to be strict. And one day you’re going to understand why, and sometimes it’s a little too late. They might pass away and you might not get that chance to say thanks or understand why he did those things. But when you become a man, you understand why.”
This is some pretty heavy stuff coming from a guy who is considered a fun-loving jokester, but there is definitely a reason for it. When Brian was 12 years old his father was diagnosed with cancer and died a short five years later while Wilson was attending Londonderry High School. Wilson says that he was forced to become a man when his father was first diagnosed with the disease.
“It happened at probably the worst time anybody could lose your dad,” said Art Psaledas, an assistant principal at Londonderry High School. “Watching his dad deteriorate over the years was probably the singular thing that formed his personality.”
Although an honor roll student, Wilson sometimes clashed with authority figures who didn’t appreciate his occasional “lack of a filter,” as one of his former teachers put it; however, several Londonderry faculty members speculated that some teachers were simply unaware of Wilson’s family situation at the time.
Londonderry High School baseball coach Bob Napolitano was impressed with Wilson’s extreme focus on the game. Napolitano specifically recalled the first home game of Wilson’s senior year, which happened shortly after his father’s death. More than 30 scouts showed up to watch Brian pitch that day, all armed with radar guns. According to Napolitano, Wilson ate and drank in the dugout, warmed up, and pitched a two-hitter without even realizing that the scouts were there. After the game, a scout from the Cleveland Indians offered Wilson a contract right out of high school, but Wilson opted to go to Louisiana State University instead.
While at LSU, Wilson became the Tigers number 2 starter, but during his third season, he suffered an elbow injured that required Tommy John surgery. While recovering and in spite of his injury, Wilson was drafted by the Giants in the 24th round of the 2003 First Year Player Draft and made his major league debut on April 23, 2006. Wilson is a three-time All-Star and has 171 career saves through seven major league seasons. The Giants non-tendered Wilson last month rather than paying him a projected $8.5 million salary in 2013 through arbitration.
Like most Dodger fans, I have had more than enough of Wilson’s Shinola shoe polished “Fear the Beard” BS, which makes him look more like a homeless street bum than a professional baseball player (no offense intended to any homeless street bums); but you have to admit that Wilson is an absolute hoot and is undoubtedly a great teammate and a fun (and funny) guy to have in the clubhouse. He also just so happens to live in the Los Angeles area.
Although Wilson’s zaniness has been well documented (especially on the late night television scene), the actual thought of him becoming a Dodger was probably the farthest thing from the minds of most Dodger fans – until Ronald Belisario pulled yet another “Ronald being Ronald” stunt in Venezuela when he was kicked off of his winter league team. And though this latest Belisario incident has been quickly dismissed as a “simple miscommunication,” why is it that things like this seem to happen only to Ronald Belisario? In other words, you need to read between the lines here. And if you think that this latest incident isn’t at the forefront of Ned Colletti’s mind, you are only kidding yourself – especially with Belisario’s pending arbitration only a few weeks away.
Realistically, there aren’t very many late-innings relievers available on the free agent market right now and with Wilson’s history of being a dominate power pitcher, I honestly believe that Wilson would be a great acquisition for the Dodgers. I also believe that he would probably come relatively inexpensive (in money and years) because he is coming off of his second Tommy John surgery (with ‘relatively’ being a relative word for this Dodgers ownership group).
And here’s the real kicker – imagine how acquiring the soon-to-be 31-year-old Wilson would absolutely infuriate Giants fans, and you’ve got to love that!
I imagine that it would probably take Dodger fans a while to get used to seeing Brian Wilson in a Dodgers uniform, but if he were to pitch for the Dodgers as well as he used to pitch against them, it probably wouldn’t take long for him to become a fan-favorite. I know that it wouldn’t take me very long, that’s for sure.
Will it happen? Who knows. Is it worth the risk? I honestly believe that it would be. But I have to add that the Dodgers better not wait too long to make a decision on this because, in my opinion, Brian Wilson won’t be on the market much longer.