Has he been checked for obsessive-compulsive disorder? "No, I only do this for baseball."
His wife, Lisa, goes pale when she hears about his 16-hour-a-day routine. "I just always thought he had ADD," she says. "He always has to be doing 500 things at once. He watches three TVs at once, while playing video games, while text-messaging. Ritalin sounds very good right about now."
He is Rain Man in a mask. He leaps, hops and loops, navigating oddly around bases and plates and umpires. In his locker he must have three full bottles of water--not two, not four--unopened and warm, though he'll drink only one. And his shin guards must face up, left on the bottom, right on top.
He can't touch the bullpen gate on his way to warm up the starter. He must have all his weight on his right foot (for a righty) during the national anthem. He must be the last man out of the dugout when his team takes the field.
"I'm afraid people will read this and think I'm completely nuts," he worries.
Not at all, A.J. They thought you were completely nuts long before this.
They see the way you rip up your batting gloves and break your bat after making an out. The way you run to the mound in the middle of innings to celebrate outs. The way every nutso play in these playoffs seems to involve you, baseball's Bart Simpson.
But now they can view the voodoo that you do, too--your bizarre catcher's-box ballet of steps, sweeps and spits into your glove before every hitter. The way you never take your glove off once the inning starts. The way, when you're backing up first on ground balls, you must begin your run down the first base line with the correct foot.
And do you finally get a break when the game is over? No, you do not. The second the last out is made, even as you take your first step to the mound to congratulate tonight's pitcher, you must switch to the foot of tomorrow night's pitcher, lefty Mark Buehrle.
Is Anthony Perkins available for the movie?