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L. Jon Wertheim
February 07, 2011
Brian Wilson knows he might seem a little out there. But behind his frighteningly black beard, the Giants' postseason hero is a deep thinker—and one of the game's best closers
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February 07, 2011

Three Quarters Nuts

Brian Wilson knows he might seem a little out there. But behind his frighteningly black beard, the Giants' postseason hero is a deep thinker—and one of the game's best closers

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The enduring mystery of baseball's 2010 postseason—Does Brian Wilson dye it?—was never solved. Nor is that the only pressing question surrounding the Giants' closer. Take, for example, a query that has nothing to do with the color of his seemingly shoe-polished whiskers: Does Brian Wilson diet?

Again, unclear. "I like to have five meals a day, from nine in the morning to nine at night," Wilson explains. "And I'm going to get a little specific here: They have to be 584 calories, 11 grams of fat, 70 grams of carbohydrates, 60 grams of protein per meal."

Five meals, that's a lot of—

"Or I can go days without eating. It's not healthy, I know, but I love the way it feels. You get away from your own mind, even though it's impossible. I'm thinking but not thinking. The endorphins are taking over. I live on a hill, and I get lazy sometimes. I don't want to drive down and get food. So I just drink water for a few days."

Wilson is expounding on his eating habits in the Soho House in West Hollywood, a strenuously hip private club off Sunset. The air is thick with electronica music and spa scents. The clientele is B-listers (Omar Epps! The girl from that show on HBO!) and Hollywood players decked out in this season's Zegna and Hugo Boss. Except for Wilson, who comes to Soho House neither to see nor to be seen but because of its proximity to his off-season home. Oblivious to the amused looks shot his way, he wears a pink Sex Pistols T-shirt, sweatpants and Reebok Pumps. His hat is adorned with a cartoon image of a Mohawk that, he says, "lets people know what my hair looks like underneath." The nails on his pinkies are painted black.

Then there's his beard, a thatch so spectacular as to merit its own paragraph. Wilson's famous facial hair is about to celebrate its five-month birthday. Still suspiciously black in coloring, it's at a length that draws attention from airport security. "It's not itchy," he says, "but it's so thick I lost my remote in there." To it, Wilson has added a Rollie Fingers--style handlebar mustache. "The curl out is festive and nonthreatening," he explains. "Let's be honest: You see a curl in a mustache, and you say, 'That guy isn't mean.'"

Opposing hitters might disagree. The 28-year-old Wilson, of course, played a scene-stealing role in San Francisco's unlikely run to a championship last fall. Quirky and quotable, he kept getting better as the season progressed, becoming one of the front men for an endearingly eccentric team. By the time he struck out the last batter of the 2010 season (the Rangers' Nelson Cruz in Game 5 of the World Series) and performed his signature victory gesture—crossing his arms and tilting his bushy face to the sky—he had, for the moment at least, rendered the Beach Boys' lead singer the other Brian Wilson.

Forget Disney World. Wilson went to Thailand after the postseason, accompanied by A's pitcher Dallas Braden, a frequent travel companion. They went for runs in the jungles. They socialized at night. They took last-minute side trips to Japan and Hong Kong. ("If you didn't guess," Wilson says, "I like to do things on impulse.") The pitcher was noticed everywhere, obliging every autograph and photo request.

Nearly three months later Wilson hasn't come off his Series high. "You know what it's like?" he says, theatrically stroking the beard. "You're 12 years old. Everything is great. It's Friday. The school bell just rang. You have no responsibilities. You get to have a sleepover. All you want to do is jump up and down and scream. You know that feeling? Now make it times a billion. That's winning the World Series."

It's around then that a smartly dressed host offers Wilson a menu. "Nah," he says without expression. "I'm going ninja today."

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