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Mike Chamernik’s Question of the Week (for June 10-14)

Last week, an old favorite returned to Uni Watch: Mike Chamernik’s “Question of the Week.”

The response to that article was tremendous, and Mike is back again with his next question.

Question of the Week
by Mike Chamernik

Diamondbacks P Humberto Castellanos caught my eye this weekend when he chewed a toothpick while pitching. Totally unnecessary and dangerous… but yes, he looked cool — and intimidating. (I guess it didn’t work, though).

Think of some of your favorite menacing athletes. What accessories and visible flourishes made them scary, to you? And when you have played sports or games, have you ever worn something to try to psych-out your opponent?

Mike Tyson wearing black trunks and black shoes (for the most part) might be my best example. Also: Barry Bonds’s armor, Tiger Woods in red, Rogie Vachon’s smiling goalie mask, and Ben Wallace’s headbands on his huge biceps.

When playing softball, I often wear a black neck gaiter that only leaves my eyes exposed. I mainly do it for sun protection, but it is at least a little off-putting. I look like an executioner out there.

Comments (82)

    Following on Tyson’s black trunks and shoes, the All Blacks look intimidating even before they get into their haka…

    As a rugby aficionado, I LOVE the haka. Basically saying “we’re going to kick your a$$”.

    The eye black nod from me goes to Ray Lewis when he really laid it on down his cheeks. For someone with such a charismatic smile, when he wanted to look mean, he looked absolutely savage.

    I immediately thought of Dave Stewart who pitched for the A’s in the 80s and 90s. He would always wear the brim of his hat super low so that especially for day games you couldn’t see his eyes when he looked in at the batter.

    Haha sure, but being born in 1995 I can’t say that I’ve ever witnessed that!

    You might have and just not remember it, the last player to play without a helmet played in 1997! The last ref without a helmet was I 2005.

    The way Andy Pettitte would stare looking in from the mound, as a kid watching on TV I always thought it looked intimidating

    My favorite pitcher, Dick Tidrow, looked intimidating. His eyes were inscrutable black triangles, akin to a wolf. And of course, there was that moustache! He looked like a desperado in a Western movie.

    Another favorite was Billy Smith of the Islanders, whose goalie mask had a conspicuous tribal shape.

    Lacrosse players that wear their elbow pads above their elbows. I think it looks terrible from an aesthetic point, but it tells me, “I’m doing the hitting, not getting hit”


    Gotta love Greg “Fossilman” Raymer and his reptilian hologram sunglasses he wore at the World Series of Poker.

    The toothpick thing just makes me think of Scott Hall.
    I always thought the giant shoulder pads with various neck pads that linebackers like Zach Thomas wore made them extra intimidating.
    Nothing in particular about his gear, but to me Randy Johnson was definitely the most intimidating looking pitcher out there. Just his size and facial features / expressions. To make another 1990s wrestling reference, he always seemed like the Undertaker of pitchers. Or maybe it was just seeing him explode a bird with a pitch, you don’t mess with that guy.

    Justin Tuck’s dark visor and thick face facemask always looked incredibly intimidating.

    Terry Butcher’s bloody headband. He proved he was the unstoppable force, concussion be damned (as bad an idea as we now know that to be).

    Any defensive football player wearing a neck roll… I played slot receiver in high school and when I saw an opposing LB rocking a neck roll, I was praying coach didn’t call a pass over the middle!!

    John Randall’s eye black.
    Marty McSorley wearing that tiny Jofa helmet and felt shoulder pads because they were easy to take off to fight.

    I don’t know if it’s intimidation or idiocy, but I think of a number of MLB pitchers who refuse to wear an undershirt even when it’s 43 degrees at game time.

    That’s kinda like how NFL linemen never wear long sleeves, even if it’s below freezing. Can never show that you’re cold.

    Or Bud Grant refusing to let his Vikings wear gloves when they played at old Metropolitan Stadium. When we played playground football in the snow, I never wore gloves, even though I mostly played receiver.

    88-year old Bud Grant, wearing a polo shirt, doing the coin toss for a Vikings playoff game in a negative-25 degree wind chill

    Or an opposite: Bob Gibson always wearing a long-sleeve undershirt even when it was 95 Fahrenheit outside.

    John Newcombe looked menacing with his awesome mustache. He was only 6’ tall, but always seemed bigger with this cool stache, and his big serve & volley game.

    U.L. Washington played 10 years in the 70s and 80s as a shortstop with a toothpick in his mouth in the field and at the plate. He went without it one week, slumped, and put it right back in.

    The 1970s were a different era. Shortstops were defensive specialists. Mark Belanger was a star and Ozzie Smith (87 OPS+) is in the Hall of Fame.

    It’s not something I wore. In my teens, while playing basketball, I developed the habit of ‘cursing’ shooters. As they attempted to take a jump shot, I would wave my fingers and shout ‘booga, ‘booga!’, like I’m casting a spell. I was surprised at my success rate. In fact, after awhile, I was asked to stop, which only cemented my being able to get in their heads.

    When I played pickup basketball, I sort of tried to “hypnotize” the guy bringing the ball into the frontcourt. I’d get down low and start swinging my right arm back and forth, just above the floor, like the pendulum on a grandfather clock. Almost every guy who made fun of what I was doing got the ball stolen away from him. Usually more than once.

    The first one that popped into my mind for some reason was Rod Beck with his horseshoe mustache and flowing hair staring down the batter. In football, it was everything about Mike Alstott. Those giant shoulder and thigh pads just let you know someone was getting run over.

    I also came here to nominate Hrabosky: link

    But it was really more about the way he’d pump himself up behind the mound: link

    Also came to comments to mention Hrabosky. Between the facial hair and the mean look, he was itimidating.

    Another vote for the Mad Hungarian. With similar votes for Goose Gossage and Rod Beck.

    Yes! Came here for The Mad Hungarian. It wasn’t just the intimidating mustache but he also had the pre-appearance routine he would go through where after his warmup pitches were done he would head behind the mound with his back to the batter, psych himself up, huff and puff a few times, then slam the ball into his glove then march back to the top of the bump ready to slay any who dared face him. Good stuff!

    Andrew Chafin has a Beck-style mustache and long hair, but he looks more goofy/ironic. I’m not sure what the difference is.

    I agree completely. Something about Beck made him look like he wanted to throw the ball through you. Chafin looks like a fun guy to hang out with. Same basic look but very different feel.

    It’s like Chafin is cosplaying. … I still like his spirit, though.

    Hell yes, Rod Beck. He just looked like he was there to f—k up your day and he wasn’t even going to enjoy it. It was just some sh-t he had to do and he hated the batter for taking him away from his Harley and his case of high life to get it done. On that note, Brian wilson’s whole look was made to throw hitters off their game. Like are you here to pitch, or are we putting on some early Metallica and having a knife fight?

    My recollection is that Pacella wore a cap too small for him on purpose in an attempt to intimidate batters by making hitters believe he was throwing so hard he couldn’t keep a cap on. Based on a quick internet search, however, his cap falling off may have been simply due to his full head of hair.


    This is more of the person behind the gear that makes the gear intimidating.

    Does anyone think the Raiders of today are as intimidating as the Raiders of the 1970’s?

    Does Austin Dillon scared NASCAR drives in the black number 3 like dale Earnhardt.

    The only reason any gear is intimidating in the first place is the people in the gear. And if you lack the aura needed to be intimidating, then no matter how “intimidating” the gear looks, that players seems to be a clown for even wearing it. Just ask JaMarcus Russel

    +1. Dale Sr. was going to be my pick, but I think you hit on the idea that it’s more than the visual, but also the person behind the visual that makes them “The Intimidator.”

    I thought of Earnhardt as well. Just think of the drivers towards the end of the race looking in their rearview mirror and seeing that black car closing in.
    But you’re right, I don’t think Dillon would invoke that same fear.

    Fred Biletnikoff always looked like bad ass crazy person when he played. Sleeves cut and loose, stick ‘em all over the place, messy facial hair, long hair popping out from the helmet, tape all over the place, plus the classic Raider colors. It all just worked, everything perfectly out of place, forgot the, seemingly random to me at that time, number 25.

    Jack Lambert’s missing teeth. Lester Hayes’s stickum-covered arms. Ben Davidson’s moustache (Rollie Fingers too). George Scott’s necklace of “2nd basemen’s teeth.” (Actually that one was more amusing than scary.)

    Missing teeth is good. And really a cauliflower ear might be the ultimate “don’t mess with this person” signal.

    As soon as I saw Alvin Kamara rocking the red and green cleats on Christmas Day, I knew he was going to do something special.

    A comment above about linemen in the NFL never wearing long sleeves made me think of the impression that can be made by how soccer players wear their uniforms.
    Nothing scarier than coming up against an old school defender wearing a short sleeve shirt in frigid temperatures. Conversely, players that wear gloves, especially when it’s not necessary, are generally derided by the tougher players.

    Personal anecdote: When I played Little League as a catcher, I would surreptitiously place a handful of dirt in my mitt, so when my pitcher threw his first ball, it looked like smoke coming off the ball when it was caught. We won more games than we lost, so maybe it worked?

    The sharpened butt end of the old aluminum hockey sticks that used to be around in the early 1990s. I, of course, used a wooden stick to play hockey as a youngster back then. Not naming names but I’ve seen it. That’s old-time Saskatchewan hockey.

    Butch Goring’s tiny helmet. That his father bought for him when he was 12 and he continued to wear throughout his NHL career.


    Chuck Cecil picking a scab on the bridge of his nose before every game so he would have blood streaming down his nose. link

    I’ll go back to the 50’s and Sal “The Barber” Maglie.

    From Wikipedia “Maglie was known as “Sal the Barber”, because he gave close shaves—that is, pitched inside to hitters.” If you were on the plate, he’d pitch you inside. Unfortunately, today’s pitchers don’t have the control The Barber did, and we get fights instead of the next pitch.

    Not an article of clothing, accessory or piece of equipment but Albert Belle’s scowl in the batter’s box during his time in Cleveland. His 1995 season was one for the ages with 50 HR and 50 doubles in a 144 game season. His scowl gave him an advantage every at bat. Unfortunately his jerk like tendencies cost him the MVP. Bob Gibson had a similar look when he was on the mound.

    Pittsburgh Steeler LC Greenwood’s yellow high tops jumped in to my mind when I read this question.

    Sam Jones pitched a no hitter for the Cubs against the Pirates in the mid 50s. He always had a toothpick in his mouth. As a reward, the Cubs presented him with a gold toothpick.

    Bill Rowmanowski’s on-field aesthetic is probably at the top of my list for football players.
    And while Mel Bridgman’s choices in headgear often seemed ill-fitting…he still looked tough.

    soccer defender with short socks and black cleats. they always get stuck into tackles

    Not gear, but Trevor Hoffman coming into the game with ‘Hell’s Bells’ blaring.

    Easy. The neck roll. See: Eric Dickerson, Chris Spielman, Howie Long, Brian Bosworth, et al. Apparently it provided zero actual increase in player safety, but it was a b@d@$$ look in the 80s.

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