AJ Daulerio's Cultural Oddsmaker runs every Friday. Email him to let him know what you think.
As you get older, you try to be productive for yourself and your family, be a good person, leaving you with only a few sacred moments all to yourself. Sometimes you take up hobbies like golf, or swimming, or Arabian knife throwing. And some of us are lucky enough to do what we would for free — and actually make money at it. But life, also, is unpredictable: One minute you're relishing in your dumb luck because you get to actually play a game — or throw an Arabian knife — for a living, and next thing you know you get pricked in the heart whilst riding a giant stingray in the offeseason. And, poof, yer gone.
Nevertheless, some passions cannot be extinguished , no matter how great the risk.
Like this column, for example.
So I'm putting on my Gilbert Gottfried mask, my inappropriate pants, and calculating the odds on which major league pitchers' offseason hobbies could result in a senseless, stupid tragedy.
Deploy that emergency parachute, and jump with me.
Boof Bonser, Balloonist: 1,450/1
When the Twins called up this Smurfy named reliever this year, general management was a little skeptical about his ballooning hobby. But Bonser, who planned a trip from Minneappolis to his hometown of St. Petersburg as soon as the Twins were eliminated, continues to spend a lot of time devoted to his hobby. In fact, he recently spent a good portion of his 2006 salary on a 1,600,000sq. feet Cameron-built hot air balloon, which he plans to fly back and forth during Spring Training next season.
Byung-Hyun Kim, Rickshaw Specialist: 2,301/1
Ever since his famous World Series collapses in 2001, Kim's turned to rickshawing to calm his nerves. In a 2003 interview, Kim said (through a translator) that "No matter what's going on in your life, when you're riding in a rickshaw, everything is gone..." So far, Kim has logged more than 75 solo hours as a rickshaw driver, but he still insists his family take commercial rickshaws whenever they ride more than 30 miles.
Gustavo Chacin, Segway Enthusiast: 1,235/1
The Blue Jays portly, be-goggled pitcher has become known in the clubhouse for being somewhat quiet and reserved — unless he's talking about his segway. Chacin is constantly reading manuals about the Segway anytime he get s a free moment. Teammate Ted Lilly said that one time last season he blasted Chacin for dawdling around the locker as the game started. Chacin justifies his dawdling that day because, dammit, he was buying his Segway.
Scott Elarton, Stagecoach Driver: 1,937/1
The Royals pitcher turned off teammates last season when he spoke up about the losing mentality of the Royals. They were resentful of those comments and blasted him about it. "The only thing Scott Elarton wants to do is ride around on his stagecoach and gamble. He doesn't have a work ethic. After every start, he didn't run or lift weights. He would sit in the clubhouse and read about stagecoaches," said pitcher Jimmy Gobble. Strong words. But Elarton ignored them and continued to spend inordinate amounts of time riding his stagecoach and looking forward to a modest payday come winter where he could hopefully sign a two-year contract with another team. As long as his stagecoach is with him, it won't matter where.