Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Odd Inspiration Of Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen is doing an impersonation of Brian Wilson.

Not the Beach Boy, the San Francisco Giants' relief pitcher. The one with the beard dyed so absurdly dark that light will not escape it. The one who hit the late night circuit over the off-season dressed up as a kind of SoCal/Rex Harrison version of "The Ghost" from "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir."

At the start, I want to promise I am rarely going to devote space here to baseball or Charlie Sheen. On the other hand, I'm technically on vacation and this rather important sidelight to an enduring, and enduringly strange, story, has not gotten much attention.

This "Tiger's Blood" stuff Sheen keeps spouting? That's a line of Wilson's.

The original "Duh! Winning!" That's some more of Wilson's act/personality/delusion/repertoire.

The Wilson-Sheen connection has gotten some national attention but not nearly enough. Wilson visiting Sheen at his home last month received the usual tut-tutting and 'it's not a problem - right at the moment' from the baseball world. Wilson and his team have insisted there was no wine, no women, only baseball (no Tiger's Blood) - and fictional baseball at that:

"They could've asked any other closer, but Rick Vaughn asked for me," Wilson said. "When Rick Vaughn picks up the bullpen phone, you answer."

That's the deal here, of course. All Charlie Sheen ever wanted to do was be a major league baseball player. He has portrayed at least two of them on film: 'Rick Vaughn' from "Major League," and one of the ill-fated corrupted players of the 1919 World Series, Happy Felsch, from John Sayles' "Eight Men Out." Vaughn was the fast-throwing, fast-living relief pitcher who entered each game to the sound of The Trogs' '60s hit "Wild Thing."

This unleashed the proverbial life imitating art stuff. Soon, actual relief pitchers began to be accompanied by their own songs. Mitch Williams of the Cubs and later Phillies became known as "Wild Thing." Brian Wilson's entire 'weird reliever' persona owes in some part to Sheen's portrayal. Now, in life imitating imitated art, Sheen is issuing online videos faster than Mubarak or Khaddafi, and trying to act like Wilson:

One of the people he said he wished he could be for ten minutes was Giants pitcher Brian Wilson. Sheen went on to mumble something about Wilson delivering "fury, vengeance, hatred and absolute world domination," then bowed his head in silence for the man, for some reason.

At one point in his life, in what in retrospect seems like an almost tender time, Sheen got as close as he could to baseball by trying to buy up all the great memorabilia. In 1992 he outbid several collectors (myself included) for the baseball that went through Bill Buckner's legs and decided the 6th Game of the 1986 World Series. Less publicly, he amassed an extraordinary card collection and had most of it housed in individual plastic holders made in the form of richly-bound books. Then there was a divorce or something and he wound up selling nearly all of it (the "Buckner Ball" included) at a loss.

I'd like to thank him belatedly for the T206 Collins Proof card, by the way.

But back to the point. There is something bizarrely baseball-related to this Ultra Mid-Life Crisis through which Charlie Sheen, or Charlie Sheen as Rick Vaughn, or Charlie Sheen as Brian Wilson, is passing.

I'm not blaming Wilson or anything. I just think we need to remember that when you grow a beard that looks like it was a prop discarded by Monty Python's Flying Circus, you never know what the consequences might be. The Giants' reliever might just want to warn people - especially Sheen - not to try drinking Tiger's Blood at home.