He says the whole business of pinch-hitting is crazy, of course, because it is "basically impossible for a manager to send a .235 lifetime hitter to win a game with two on and two out in the ninth."
It develops quite naturally, then, that the "ideal personality for a pinch hitter is to be a little crazy, too." The pinch-hitter's secret, he says, "is to think—but not too much." To "keep your head in the game," learn pitchers, be ready. And getting ready sometimes includes "going back into the clubhouse to swing a bat, or to put on some special shoes I have and hang upside down from one of those gyros in the John—not too long, just enough for my face to get really red. Somebody said, 'It'll retard your brain.' I said, 'It's too late. It already has.'
"By the time I finally get to the plate, I'm in a positive frame of mind. I go up there thinking this pitcher's not about to take the bread off my family's plate."
"Or the diamonds off your wife's neck," says Carrie, smiling sweetly.
"Yeah, or the diamonds off my wife's neck. I believe then that the pressure really is on him. I've got the advantage. If he fails, he gets the Big L—the loss. If I fail, it's only none for one."
Sometimes, he says, he still has dreams of playing every day, "but I doubt it's ever in the manager's mind anymore." He says he might even consider being a manager someday. "Players who sit and watch as much as I do make the best managers—guys like Walt Alston and Dick Williams. If I managed, I wouldn't be a 'star' manager, either. To keep morale high, you have to take the guys who don't play under your wing. Make them feel appreciated. The stars already know they're appreciated. It's in their paycheck."
It usually comes down to that, doesn't it, he says. Being measured by how much you make. And by those standards, and those alone and "not because I deserve it," there is certainly some pride to be found in where Bevacqua is today.
"My lifestyle has changed. I can afford things. I'm probably going to buy this house." Pause, grin. "Although the last time I bought a house, I got traded."
Take note, he says, how good life is for the self-proclaimed captain of the Padres. He is a well-known player now, even a star. He can legitimately put his picture on the cover of his own newspaper. He can editorialize in his own column. His radio show has rising ratings. He has an agent who's going to do big things for him. He can take his kids to Fashion Valley to shop. He can take them to Disneyland in a limo.
Life is so good that it is obviously time to consider consolidating a little—to be cool and to be conservative. Thus, Mr. Bevacqua says he will probably not accept the starring role in Dirty Kurt's Neighborhood. He's been thinking a lot about it and he has decided enough might be enough. There are practical considerations.