SAN FRANCISCO - Nuke LaLoosh has his head filled with all sorts of ideas in Bull Durham, most interestingly that wearing a garter belt under his uniform will distract the minor-league pitching phenom and prevent him from overthinking things on the mound. Trouble is, he can't figure out how to put it on.
"The rose goes in the front, big guy," catcher Crash Davis says, helpfully.
That's the problem with performance-enhancing underwear - it's complicated. And it doesn't always work.
Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff has received a lot of attention for promoting the benefits of his red, rhinestone-studded "rally thong." Back in September, Huff started wearing the unusual lingerie and bragged that it would produce "20 wins" for San Francisco. More than a month later, with the Giants in the National League Championship Series, rally thongs are everywhere in San Francisco - waved by fans in the stands and passed out freely in the clubhouse.
The Giants seemed pretty sure of themselves before Game 5. The day before, they joked around as Huff unpacked boxes of rally thongs and distributed them to his teammates and even manager Bruce Bochy. You could almost hear those kink-crazed knuckleheads having a conversation as they made sure everyone was well outfitted.
Take two . . . they're small.
"I'll be honest, he passed them around," Bochy admitted. "I don't think anybody wants to see me in one. And I don't really enjoy seeing Aubrey in his. But he's proud of his body, and he likes to walk around in it, and he gets a lot of laughs. And it keeps the guys loose."
Wonder whether they're still feeling fancy free after the Phillies won, 4-2, Thursday night and closed the gap in the series.
The Giants thought they had the NLCS locked up. Then, before they knew it, their World Series travel plans suddenly got put on hold, and they were forced to book a return trip to Philly. That had to be an uncomfortable cross-country flight back to the East Coast.
Things have to feel a whole lot tighter for Bochy's previously loose crew. Thongs, rally versions or not, are dangerous that way; if things shift unexpectedly, they can cut off your circulation.
The Giants pretended as though they weren't thinking about the World Series, but laid-back Tim Lincecum - who got knocked around early by the Phils - was asked about the Fall Classic before his start. He pretty much admitted that he had entertained the idea.
"It's crept in the back of my mind, obviously, just because I've never been here before and those are the things that people dream of," Lincecum said. "I'm sure everybody in here has. Or as far as my teammates go. So at the same time not getting too ahead of ourselves and, like I said, worrying about today."
He got that last part right. There's going to be lots of worrying in San Francisco between now and Game 6. On Thursday, AT&T Park was initially full of excited orange-and-black clad fans. Before the first pitch of Game 5 was thrown, one Giants backer in the upper reaches of left field kept pulling up his shirt and screaming "World Series" to no one in particular. Thankfully, he stopped doing that pretty early on. I didn't see him leave, but I imagine he looked the way a lot of other locals did - downtrodden and shocked - as they shuffled out to their cars for what must have been a long, depressing ride home.
What did Charlie Manuel say again? Ah yes: "To be the best, you have to beat the best." The Giants were so close to almost doing that. But "almost," as the Giants and their fans are finding out, doesn't count for much.
As if the rally thong didn't clue you in, the Giants are into some strange stuff. For more proof, check out the interview San Francisco closer Brian Wilson did with Fox Sports earlier this season: http://bit.ly/9zEozB. Wilson's house-guest makes an appearance around the time he begins talking about his dog. . . . Tweet of the game: "Why was Cody Ross singing 'God Bless America,' and where did he get the hat?" - @LoMoMarlins. . . . Crab fries >garlic fries. . . . The Giants' Wall of Fame is located outside AT&T Park. As we walked past plaques honoring JT Snow, Rich Aurilia and world-beater Kirt Manwaring - a lifetime .246 hitter - one Philly scribe shook his head. "Man," he said, "they'll let anyone be on that thing." . . . Before Thursday's game, I overheard some San Francisco media members making World Series plans. Reminded me of the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when they roll the death wagon through town and prematurely toss a still-living body on top. "I'm not dead yet," the man says. Seems appropriate for some reason.