Mar 27, 2010, 12:00 PM EDT
Closers, by nature, are eccentric fellows. Heck, all pitchers tend to be superstitious, compulsive creatures that their teammates tolerate more than understand.
Still, it requires a special breed of pitcher to enter a tight matchup in the 9th inning, somehow work themselves into the flow of the game, rear back, preserve the lead and shut the other team down.
Even though there have been many examples of oddball characters employed in the closer’s role over the years – Rollie Fingers solely because of his mustache comes to mind – perhaps none have been as forthright in detailing their peculiar idiosyncrasies and oddball behavior than current San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell.
In a wide-ranging and expansive interview with the David Brown from Big League Stew for his Answer Man series, the topics discussed range from why he was named Heath, how he secretly hopes someone rushes the mound so he can live out his Jake “the Snake” Roberts fantasies as well as his thoughts on extraterrestrials.
The interview – and I would be remiss if I did not mention that Brown consistently does a fantastic job at eliciting interesting answers out of his subjects – begins by asking the pitcher about his first name and the candy bar.
David Brown: When you were a kid, did you think the Heath Bar was named after you?
Heath Bell: No, but my parents told me that I was named after an English waste dump. So I always thought I got dumped on.
When asked how he would react if someone charged the mound and a brawl ensued, he jokes (I think) that he would pull a Jake “The Snake” Roberts and put their heads in a duffel bag with a snake. No word on whether he, like Roberts, named his snake Damien, but he claims he has “got one in a box in the dugout just in case we get into a fight.” Bell doesn’t mention if he would use the DDT on an opponent prior to unleashing the serpent (so to speak) or not, but my guess is he would.
But perhaps the most interesting exchange between Brown and Bell is when Brown asks Bell if he has any superstitions, which clearly opened up a vein on the pitcher.
DB: Do you have any conspiracy theories? Like, “The CIA killed JFK,” or “We never really landed on the moon”?
Bell: I don’t think Harvey Oswald acted alone. I do think we landed on the moon, but I have a speculation as to why we’ve never gone back. But I really think that UFOs are true and the government’s hiding that. And I think the best pitch in baseball is a curveball and everybody else says it’s a slider.
Bell: But I definitely believe in UFOs and the government … You know in “Men in Black,” how the toaster’s been patented and TVs? I do believe that’s alien technology.
DB: The toaster?
Bell: I’m just giving you an example from “Men in Black” where they say the patent from the toaster and 8-track player is from alien technology. I believe that computers are from aliens.
DB: You’re not giving us humans much credit.
Bell: We’re not very bright. I mean, think of it. If somebody says that “X” happens, everyone believes it because it’s in the paper. But not everybody has their facts straight. If it’s on TV, people believe it. If you’re rich, poor people believe whatever they say. We’re a bunch of followers.
DB: I kind of believe whatever you say.
I’m inclined to believe him as well. The truth is out there, folks.
Answer Man: Padres’ Heath Bell talks toys, conspiracies and Pez [Big League Stew]
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