Dodger-blue Brims bob under the stadium lights as Scott Radinsky jogs in from the bullpen. The bases are loaded, two men are out, the Dodgers lead 5-2 in the seventh inning, and Tony Eusebio of the visiting Houston Astros is at the plate. Radinsky takes the mound and grabs the ball from his catcher, Mike Piazza. "Hey, Mike," he says. "Sing me a song."
"Say what?" asks Piazza.
"Sing me a punk song."
So, while 38,937 spectators hold their breath, Piazza launches into the Angry Samoans' Ballad of Jerry Curlan: "Jerry Curlan is nice, sensitive, has lots of friends in Washington/Jerry has friends, and people like meeting them...."
Piazza turns, strides back to the plate, settles into his crouch. Radinsky rears back, whips in a fastball. It's inside, ball 1. The crowd holds its breath again. Radinsky throws a turbocharged cutter. Jammed, Eusebio slaps a meek roller to second. The Dodgers get away unmarked, and the fans breathe easy once more. Descending into the cool shadows of the dugout, Radinsky spies Piazza and shouts, "You called the right song."
Radinsky is a barbed original: a punk-loving, jock-loathing lefty who, despite missing the entire 1994 season while being treated for Hodgkin's disease, is one of the Dodgers' sturdiest setup men. Fellow reliever Darren Dreifort describes him as a kind of bullpen Pan, piping a merry, woody tune. "Rad's a different kind of easygoing," says Dreifort. "An aggressive easygoing, if that's possible."
Like Jerry Curlan, Radinsky is nice, sensitive, has lots of friends. Born and bred in the suburbs of Los Angeles, he has an uncreased brow, a delicately turned-up mouth and hair cropped as close as a Cheever lawn. But there's also a defiant, seditious side to Radinsky—a side reflected in the X he etched into his right forearm with needle and india ink in eighth grade. "I love the five minutes I'm actually in the game," he says with a quick, almost adolescent enthusiasm. "Those five minutes are why I come to the ballpark and put up with the writers, the dress code, the team meetings, the authority of the dugout, the major corporation that is baseball. I just turned 29, but at heart I'm 15. I haven't grown up. Who wants to grow up?"
These sentiments resound in the fever-blister ballads Radinsky writes and sings for the punk band Pulley. On the music video of the group's anthem, Cashed In, Radinsky half snarls, half shouts lyrics that he swears are not aimed at the Dodgers' front office:
Played my share of dues
Yet you still want to put me down
Started on the bottom
Tell me why I feel here again
Radinsky pitches the way he sings: with headlong intensity. "Some pitchers don't want to enter tight games," says Dodgers bullpen coach Mark Cresse. "Rad not only wants to enter tight games, but he also lever wants to leave them. He's totally fearless."