Feb. 22, 2011RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO
There are two dates to keep in mind for Brian Wilson this year -- May 10, and September 5.If on May 10 he has 20 appearances, all will be well. If on May 5 he has five blown saves, his offseason will officially be declared a team-crushing distraction.Conversely, if on September 5 he has 20 appearances, his offseason will officially be declared a distraction, and if he has five blown saves on September 5, all will be well.Thats how this works, and how it has always worked. A players ability to pursue outside projects without complaint runs in direct proportion to his or her future performance, and while Wilson understands this truth conceptually ... well, lets just say you can understand the backlash but it still leaves welts all the same.We as a society of brazen puritans have always had a curious relationship with fame. Were all for it until you have it, but once you get it, you will be punished for having achieved it. The only indemnification against this phenomenon is to never fail at your first job, which in Wilsons case is throwing a baseball at a sufficiently high rate of speed and sense of direction that it cannot be used against him in the ninth inning.In short, he used to fail because he couldnt throw strikes. Now hell fail because he flew to Charlie Sheens house.RELATED: Giants Insider notebook -- Wilson's back drama
Make sense? No. Then again, it doesnt have to. Its just what is. Wilson is by his own choice a creature of show business, and as such will now play by show business rules, the first of which is, Youre as good as your last hit.This is particularly dangerous because his chosen profession, closer, is one of the most volatile in sports. There is only one Mariano Rivera per era, plus the odd Trevor Hoffman or Joe Nathan. Everyone else is fighting either to stay healthy or not have the bad years be terrible ones.Wilson was exemplary last year, as has been discussed ad nauseam in these parts. The year before, he was pretty good but occasionally unsettling. The year before that, he was a Maalox bottle with shoes.Thus, the arrow is pointing north, the best time as it turns out to broaden ones horizons and also the worst time to win approval from fans and media. Every time he kicks a game, he will be blamed not because he couldnt find the strike zone but because he did that photo shoot for Canadian Lumberjack Quarterly. He wont have gotten squeezed on that bases loaded walk by C.B. Bucknor, but by George Lopez.And there is nothing for Wilson to do about it except never ever ever have a bad outing ever again. Or to develop a skin so thick that he doesnt let the outside world bother him. Or, most likely and maybe most efficaciously for his own peace of mind, to keep his exasperations hidden from view and understand that in difficult times, regular folks cant resist ascribing arcane reasons to normal occurrences.Last year, Wilson had five certifiably bad outings in 80 regular and postseason appearances, an average of less than one per month. If he does that again, Charlie Sheen wont be a factor. If he has 10, there will be grumbling. Any more than 12, and his second career will be blamed for his struggles in the first. Its mathematics, and its mob sociology, and theres no disputing those two sciences.Presumably he knows that. Hopefully for the Giants, hell be able to understand how the world works for athletes with off-field hobbiesambitions. All he has to be is slightly better than he was a year ago, and hes home free. Otherwise, well, it isnt like he wont have been warned ... day, after day, after day, after tedious, repetitive, soul-crushingly monotonous day.After all, what else are the fans and media for?