It turned out he had commissioned a compilation of every at bat during the previous season in which a lefthanded AL pitcher faced a lefthanded hitter. "C.J. was hunting for an edge," Connor says. "He's always on the lookout for new insights and information."
If real knowledge is knowing the extent of your ignorance, Wilson is about as sagacious as athletes come. This is a player whose training drills range from "stress inoculation" to "visuomotorization"—a nightly ritual that requires him to execute his delivery in the dark in superslow motion. "I strive to maximize my ability within my limitations," he says, sounding like a self-help book on tape. "Life is all about productivity."
Wilson said this before spring training, while lounging on a tatty sofa in his tatty Huntington Beach, Calif., condo, his eyes radiating a steady glitter. "What's the John Lennon thing?" he asks. " 'Be yourself and there will be peace in the world.' Lots of ballplayers put on an act—they're just not comfortable with themselves. I accept what I am."
But what exactly is C.J. Wilson?
"Simply put, he's a polymath and an autodidact," says Fran Pirozzolo, the Rangers' former mental skills coach.
Connor puts it a lot more simply. "C.J. is a perfectionist," he says. "No matter how well he pitches, there's always something about his performance that he's unhappy about."
He's also a free-thinking Southern Californian, a martial artist, an aspiring novelist, a painter of oils, a maker of omelettes, a groupie of LOST, a fervent champion of the straight edge lifestyle, a collector of Porsches, a dater of swimsuit models and the subject of a neuroscientific experiment by Pirozzolo based on the Ten-Year Rule—the idea that it takes about 10 years to become an expert at something.
What C.J. Wilson is not, says C.J. Wilson, is a flake. "Sportswriters hung that label on me," he says, "but I think of a flake as someone who can't get his act together. I study physics. I compete in a sports car racing series. I'm a Taoist. I guess an 'engineering-minded, race-car-driving lefty who follows the teachings of Lao Tzu' just doesn't roll off the tongue."
I live in the now, or try at least
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