08/06/2003 8:59 PM ET
Notes: Peroxide Pat debuts
Struggling slugger joins the dye crew
DENVER -- Perhaps the sight of his sub .200 average this season was enough to
make Pat Burrell's hair turn white, or maybe it was just time for a change.
Either way, if Burrell wanted to slip into the visitors clubhouse unnoticed on
Wednesday, it wasn't happening. Not with that hair. Conforming to the bleached
blonde look that has popped up on the heads of Tyler Houston, Todd Pratt and Tomas Perez
(well sort of), Burrell became the latest to join the white brigade.
"I didn't do this to change my luck around, but maybe it will," said Burrell,
who's batting .196. "If it changes, book it for Spring Training."
"Watch him hit two homers tonight and they'll put his big head on the front page
tomorrow," said Houston.
Burrell dyed his black hair white at the urging of Houston, who should open a
salon any day now. Houston's next appointment, Jason Michaels, is scheduled for after
"He's a magician," said Burrell, who will add more white tonight. "I had no idea
what I was getting into. I was sitting there with this paste in my hair for an hour. He rinsed it, then put more in, then he rinsed it again. Then I took a shower
and said, 'Wow. I like it.' "
The magician has been performing such hair-raising rituals on his own cranium
for three years and said he's at the point where he's an expert. His goal is to get the
Which in itself, is a daunting task. The most unlikely candidates include Kevin
Millwood -- who Houston called "a little too country and not enough rock and roll" --
and Jim Thome, who has only committed to highlights rather than the full ride.
As for Jimmy Rollins, Houston dreams of dying every other cornrow, giving the
shortstop a "zebra look." The possibilities are endless. Other players weighed in by
saying that Jose Mesa, Brett Myers and Dan Plesac are the least likely to conform.
Still, four and counting isn't bad.
"They're having a lot of fun, said manager Larry Bowa. "That's great. You gotta
have fun in this game. We used to shave it off or let everything grow."
Bowa said he's on board should the Phillies reel off eight straight wins, while
third-base coach John Vukovich signed on if such a streak should reach 10. Houston is
ready in either case.
For now, he has to prepare for Michaels, who's bleaching his hair for the second
time in his career. The first time was at short-season Batavia in 1998, just after he
signed with the Phillies. Nick Punto and Triple-A reliever Jeremy Wedel joined in that
Burrell and Michaels also took part in a head-shaving scheme while at the
University of Miami -- also in 1998. Michaels was a senior then.
"The whole team was bald," Burrell said. "I did it my freshman year and the
whole team did it my junior year. We took a picture of us all with our hats off. It was
The humor that the hall of white is bringing to the clubhouse is one of the
reasons why this year's Phillies seem to be having a lot of fun. Winning doesn't hurt,
General manager Ed Wade couldn't possibly have known that Houston's talents
extended so far beyond the baseball diamond.
"I didn't know he had that kind of talent," said Bowa.
"That's my job, to keep the clubhouse light, keep the boys loose," Houston
Mom's approval: While Burrell is pleased with his new "do", he knew he should break
the news to his mother Mary, who will be attending this weekend's three-game set in San Francisco. Burrell's parents live about 90 minutes away.
He called on Wednesday.
"I said, 'I want to tell you that I made a little change,' " Burrell said. "She said
'Well is it with your hair?' I said, 'Yeah'. She said, 'What color?' I said 'Just like
yours in high school when you went platinum blonde.' "
Don't blame the bullpen: News that the average Phillies game lasts longer than any other team in the NL may have seemed like an affront to Plesac. But he's doing all he can.
"I'm running in [from the bullpen] as fast as I can," he said. "It's a little
slower, but I'm getting there."
In a story in USA Today, it was revealed that an average Phillies game
takes two hours, 53 minutes and 30 seconds, more than 12 minutes than the Dodgers, the
quickest NL team.
The Dodgers might have even been quicker had they not stopped by Philadelphia
last week. They succumbed to the Phillies-esque 2:54 average during a three-game set.
There are many theories behind why the Phillies take so darn long to determine a
winner. From the administrative side, suggestions include a manager who likes to argue
with umpires and a pitching coach who likes to visit the mound.
There have been 22 games in which the Phillies have scored eight or more runs,
and a 17-inning contest in Baltimore and the 13-inning win over Boston couldn't have
helped. Just don't blame the bullpen.
"As long as we win, what does it matter?" said Rheal Cormier. "I played in the
AL (Boston) and there were some games that we thought were never going to end."
The notion that the delays stem from Plesac germinated in Spring Training, when
the 41-year-old reliever was called to the carpet when a Major League Baseball representative
showed a video depicting the slowest relievers.
"They showed the tape and said, 'Watch this guy,' and everybody started
laughing because it was me," Plesac said. "They had a clock going in the top right-hand
corner [of the TV screen] and said it took me 58 seconds to get from the bullpen to the
mound and it took 2:53 before I threw the first pitch.
"I've cut it down by a third. I'm ready to go in two minutes."
Mike Williams, who has a rather quick gait, defended Plesac by explaining that
some stadiums have bullpens that are further away than others. He cited PNC Park, his
former home, as being a bit of a haul.
"Maybe you need Wrigley Field where the bullpens are on the side," Williams
Terry Adams spoke up for the whole pen.
"I don't think there's one guy who's slow," he said. "I don't even take my full
warmup. After four or five [pitches], I'm ready to go."
So don't blame the bullpen.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for
MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball
or its clubs.
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com