Finding wisdom in a Tom Cruise film about men specializing in the art of synchronized drink-pouring is a bit like spotting a $20 bill underneath a dumpster. But, lo, there it is: "Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn't end."
So, the relationship between the San Francisco Giants and eccentric relief star Brian Wilson has ended. By definition, it's ended badly -- but it's a special level of bad when the man who epitomized the team's self-applied misfit image heads over to the arch-rival outfit.
Of course, this is just a new beginning for Wilson. Baseball is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that, via a 1922 ruling by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes ludicrous even in that era, enjoys an antitrust exemption. "Personal effort, not related to production, is not a subject of commerce," wrote the judge.
Obviously that's not so. This is a business -- and the Giants' decision to lowball Wilson after he was forced to undergo a second major elbow operation was a business move, as was Wilson's choice to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers. So, even for the fans -- who knowingly take a naive, Holmes-like view of the game for sanity's sake -- it's hard to fault Wilson.
But we will miss him -- and an era that feels longer ago and lasted far shorter than a glance at the calendar confirms.
Oh yes, The Machine. Yes, that really happened. Yes, a bondage-wearing, murderous, semi-clad figure plucked from the film 8MM became a mainstream reference thanks to Wilson. Brian Wilson went on TV talk shows and made the hosts pucker their assholes in discomfort by whipping out a gimp mask. Yes, on television. Yes, that really happened.
We'll miss those days -- and miss rooting for a player smart and funny enough to make that work and successful enough that the powers-that-be let him do it.
Where's The Machine? Chavez Ravine. It even rhymes.