Brace yourself: Brian Wilson, sans beard, is attempting a comeback ... as a knuckleballer(!)
It's probably been a while since you thought about Brian Wilson, West Coast relief pitcher whose beard was as big as his presence on the mound.
You remember the guy:
Or perhaps you remember this version:
His last pitch in the big leagues may have taken place three years ago with the Dodgers in 2014, but the 34-year-old is apparently attempting a comeback.
There's a twist, though. Two, in fact.
First, he's shaved his iconic facial hair "situation." Second, as Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown revealed on Wednesday, the Pitcher Formerly Known As 'The Beard' is trying to be a knuckleball hurler this time around:
No beard, no spin... pic.twitter.com/jduVacBBMA- Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) February 8, 2017
If your jaw is agape, you're not alone. This is quite a development.
Brown reported that Wilson threw a 30-pitch bullpen session at USC on Wednesday morning, and as this quote suggests, his trademark candor and confidence are still in full quantity:
There's definitely a market for those who can throw adequate knucklers in today's game, as R.A. Dickey and Steven Wright can no doubt attest. It won't be easy, but neither was the thought of closing out the AL champion Rangers in the 2010 World Series, and ... well:
Wilson, who collected 172 saves and 407 strikeouts between 2006 and 2014, has already had a larger-than-life career. If anybody can do what he's trying to do right now, it's him -- bearded or not.
He's also dabbled with a knuckleball over the years, tossing one to an unsuspecting Brad Miller during a Spring Training contest in 2014:
Should Wilson's new career foray pan out, we do have to wonder what it'd mean for Wilson's status in Barry Zito's (made-up) band, though ...