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Later this morning I was at the St. Louis Cardinals… the other side of Roger Dean Stadium. I was talking with Yadier Molina about his MVP2000TT headgear. Right next to him was Albert Pujols. He leaned over and asked, “Hey, are you the helmet guy?” I felt like saying, “well, um, actually, I am the ‘cup guy.'” He wanted a headgear for his father who is a softball catcher. “No problem I said.” I jotted down a note, asked for the color he wanted, and in the midst of a crowd of about five people, knowing full well who he is, I asked, “And so, what’s your name?” I think he and everyone else was taken aback. I got a blank look. He simply said “Pujols.” “OK, I’ll have the helmet sent in a couple of days.”
I learned this trick many years ago. Back when I was doing my undergrad at Hahvahd, some random person I met on a train asked where I went to school. Usually, when you say Harvard there is immediate recognition, and sometimes a comment about being whicked smaht. But that time he simply said, “Hmm, Harvard? I don’t think I’ve heard of that. Where is it?” His delivery was perfect and to this day I still don’t know if he was playing a joke on me or he really didn’t know. But he got me either way. I really didn’t know what to say except a feeble “Um, in Camdridge… next to Boston.” I kind of pulled the same thing on Pujols today. And it’s kind of like the time I offered Natalie Portman a job cleaning toilets at Harvard the first week of her freshman year. But that’s a story for another time.
I am not making this up. I walk into the Marlins locker room this morning with John Silverman, the equipment manager. I’m not in the locker room more than one minute when I hear to my left, “Hey, are you the cup guy?” It was outfielder Luis Gonzalez (who apparently wanted a cup because he was about to do some infield drills).
I kind of stumbled out some sort of answer like “um, yeah, I guess so.” He wanted to know about the Shock Jock because Matt Treanor, a long time All-Star catcher, had been talking it up the last few days. I didn’t have any with me so I told him I could have some sent down for him to try.
A little bit later Matt came in and after we went over his gear and shot the breeze for a while, he pulled out an extra Shock Jock cup he had tucked away and handed it over to Luis. Luis’ first comment was something like “Man, I could eat cereal out of this thing,” giving the impression that it is too big.** But he quickly popped it into place and in a few minutes he was saying how good it felt.
** The Shock Jock cup might look a little big because the very top is a bit wide. This is by design. The wide top helps distribute any impact over a large area for better (and safer) energy absorption. But the cup really is quite narrow where it matters and not bulky. Also, last week Pete Laforest on the Phillies was saying that one of the things he likes about the Shock Jock is that it is narrow. This is also due to the flexible sides and the exclusive flexible notch we make at the “nose” of the cup. That notch helps a lot with lateral mobility.
Another quick snippet from today’s visit with the Dodgers… because I need to have at least one jock strap story a day it seems. I had my camera with me today, but no photos. I had to wear a badge that clearly read “No Autographs. No photographs.”
I caught up with Gary Bennett after he got off the field. As we were chatting about his gear he was undressing and he casually took his Shock Jock cup out of his K200 jock strap and tossed the cup in his locker. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to ask him for any direct feedback. Soon after AJ Ellis walked in. His locker is right next to Bennett’s. I checked in with him to make sure he got all his gear, etc. He then grabbed a box we sent him that he hadn’t opened yet to make sure he had everything. Right on top was the Shock Jock cup and jock strap. He saw them and exclaimed something like “Allright! I’ve been wanting to try this cup. Gary keeps saying it’s the best.” Again, I never thought a cup and/or a jock strap would elicit so much enthusiasm.
Okay… one more jock strap story. This is from last year, but I was reminded of it tonight because my dad visited with the Giants today. Last year we rolled out the Shock Jock for the first time and gave a few to each of our catchers. When my dad and I checked in with the Giants I asked Guillermo Rodriguez if he got his cup. He answered by making a fist and tapping it against his nether region, producing a nice hollow thud, and saying “I’m wearing it right now.” Well, that was cool.
A moment later Steve Holms, a Minor League Invitee started talking with Guillermo and me. I asked him the same question… “did you get the new cup and jock?” Somehow he slipped through the cracks, and we didn’t ship him a cup or jock. To which Guillermo replied “Oh, man, you’ve got to try it. Here!” He reached into his pants, pulled out his Shock Jock cup and handed it toward Steve. Steve took at least one step back and said “I’m not touching that thing!”
Anyway, on that note… it’s late and I’ve got to get up early to see the Marlins and Cardinals tomorrow.
Check in tomorrow for more exciting news from the sporting goods world. Same bat time, same bat channel.
So I’m hitting two teams a day down here in Florida. At each camp I interact with anywhere between one and five security guards before I get to the clubhouse. Some times I can slip right in without any issues, and sometimes I have to wait for them to radio to so and so, to get permission from so and so, who asks so and so if it’s OK for me to enter. In talking with some of these guards as I wait for the radio to crackle with “OK, send him in” we invariably talk about where they are from. Lots of these security guards are retirees and many are snowbirds down in Florida for the winter months. But it seems like 4 out of 5 are from the Boston area. Just today I was talking with a guy originally from Marblehead (just north of Boston). Yesterday it was a guy from Woburn (just west of Boston). Then there was the ex homicide detective from East Boston. Seems like everyone’s got a connection to the Boston area.
Today I saw the Dodgers. I thought it was a bit odd that there was a microphone, several strobe lights, and a couple of amps at one end of the clubhouse locker room. Looking around some more, I saw several other lights and strobes hanging precarioulsy from lockers and shelves… all pointing toward that mic.
I went about my business… you know, checking on the jock straps and cups. Then Mitch, the equipment manager walked by me and mumbled something about American Idol. “Huh?” I mumbled back. He then explained that I had just missed the Dodger’s version of American Idol. Darn. I guess they had various performances this morning before I arrived.
Must have been some sort of team building exercise. Forget high ropes courses and trust falls. American Idol is where it’s at for building team camaraderie and fellowship.
Mitch would not disclose who won. But I’m willing to bet that Joe Torre’s rendition of “Oops I Did It Again” earned him the top spot.
So it seems like y’all want to know more about jock straps. My last post seemed to strike a chord with many (well, at least the number of visitors nearly doubled).
Today I swung by the Astros. And yes, I got some more great comments about the Shock Jock. Sorry, ladies, no photos of Brad Ausmus modelling our jock strap and cup. Both Ausmus and the up and coming Josh Johnson made a point to say that the cup does it’s job protecting their twig and berries** and it is mighty comfortable, too. While both don the same model cup, they perfer two different, shall we say, “techniques?” Ausmus uses our K200 jock strap to hold the cup firmly in place while Johnson’s preferred carrier is our catcher’s short (the CPS2006). Now that I know this is such a hot topic, I’ll do my best to do a little locker room “research” and get some pictures.
** Term in no way implies size nor stature.***
*** Editor’s note: it’s not the size of the ship, but the motion of the ocean. Or similarly, it’s not the size of the wand, but the magic of the magician.
Now what’s really cool is that Josh makes his own bats. He works for BWP Bats out of Brookville, PA (http://www.bwpbats.com/). How awesome is it that he selects his own wood, turns it down to the optimal shape, and then applies the finish? It’s like the modern day equivalent of forging your own sword.
This weekend my girlfriend, Megan, decided to skip the impending 10 inches of snow back home in Boston and visit me while I was making the rounds in and around the Tampa area.
Megan is a doctor. Internal medicine. She’s wicked smaht. Often times we’ll be out for dinner or at some get together with some acquaintances and there might be someone new who doesn’t know either of us. It doesn’t take long after the usual pleasantries for that someone to ask what we do for a job. Megan will say something elegant about how she’s a doctor, how she works in a hospital in Everett, etc. The focus naturally turns to me and that someone asks, “and Stan, what do you do for a living?” Sometimes before I can respond they follow up with “are you a doctor, too?” To which I usually blurt out, “Um, no. I engineer jock straps and cups.” The aftermath is quite varied… sometimes I get a blank look, but often times I get giggles and smiles.
Saturday was no exception. Our sales rep in the Tampa area, Bill Gorman, invited Megan and me out to dinner with his wife, Vicky. If you are ever in the Tampa area, check out Iavarone’s… you won’t be dissapointed (http://iavaronessteakhouse.com/). I had perhaps the best steak in my life. The ambiance is very charming, and the owner, Carmine, is beyond nice. It’s rumored that Steinbrenner stops by now and again. Anyway… back to jock straps. That evening I pulled my usual jock strap gag. This time it was to a former college football coach. He was impressed.
But the best part is that earlier that day I was actually dealing with jock straps and cups. I was at the Phillies and Pete Laforest started raving about how much he loves our new “Shock Jock” cup and jock. It’s not every day that a guy pulls down his pants to show me his crotch and talk about how well the cup and jock fit. Maybe I just have that effect on people? Anyway, he was saying that it’s the best fitting cup and jock combo out there (and trust me… these MLB guys can try just about any cup and jock on the market… there are bins upon bins of them in each equipment room). He said that he likes that our design is fairly narrow, but deep enough, and it’s got the soft edges on the side to reduce chafing. Anyway, don’t take Pete’s word for it… go try it yourself. Just don’t drop your trowsers in front of me.
Anyway, I’ve got lots more stories and pictures from the last few days… more on the way….
So yesterday I promised a little explanation about the specifics of Jason Varitek’s mitt. We get tons of e-mails asking why his web is so floppy. Well, rest assured that it is by design, and it serves a purpose.
Every good catcher knows to catch the ball in the pocket, not the web. This is one reason to train and do drills with undersized training mitts. So why the floppy web if you catch in the pocket? Jason tunes the lacing to be loose to help snag and control wild pitches and pop flies. The floppy web helps to snag and trap the ball under these situations. If the ball has a lot of spin, it helps prevent the ball from popping out. If he’s straining to either side and barely makes contact with the ball and gets it in the web, then the loose web helps to trap the ball.
In order to get the web this loose, we provide him with extra long rawhide so he can relace the web to his liking.
Honestly, my dad and I are worried that one of these days a ball is going to get through that web. But you’ve gotta go with what works for you.
5am… drop dad off at the airport so he can fly to Arizona. Find 96.1 K-Rock, Florida’s hard rock station. Metallica is playing. Sick! It’s nothing like a little Metallica to get the morning started right. Then Guns N Roses. Then AC/DC.
7:15am… driving to Red Sox camp. Still tuned to 96.1. Guns N Roses is playing. Then Metallica. Then Nirvana. Then AC/DC. Starting to wonder about this station’s playlist.
1pm… drive from Red Sox camp to Subway for lunch. Still tuned to 96.1. Metallica. Again. Is someone just broadcasting the four bands on his MP3 player?
1:15pm… driving to Sarasota. Guns N Roses. Pearl Jam (oh, a little variety). AC/CD. Nirvana. Metallica. Reliving grade school is starting to get old.
1:45pm… losing 96.1… flip to another channel. Guns N Roses! Flip to another channel. Metallica!
1:50pm… turn the radio off.
It’s late. So to borrow something from my good friend Dr. Hagan, this will be “quick hits style.”
1) We saw the Red Sox yesterday. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… Varitek is the nicest guy ever. Salt of the earth.
2) Tek, Kevin Cash, the rest of the catchers and Coach Tucker are using our tiny CM100TM training mitt every day… more than their regular mitts. It is “invaluable.”
3) Knuckle ball mitt update: yep, we’re making a knuckle ball mitt. Cash is breaking in the first samples and it’s a go.
4) Every month we get e-mails asking why Tek’s web is so floppy and loose. Some ask if it is the rawhide stretching out. I’ll tell you that Jason is very meticulous when it comes to his gear. The web is loose by design. More details tomorrow about this.
5) Dice-K has a nice spiral. He’s been tossing the football around. I thought it was for fun, but a security guard told me that he’s been doing it every day. Maybe there are secret talks going on about replacing Tom Brady?
6) Saw the Twins yesterday, too. All’s cool over there. Mike Redmond, Drew Butera, Allan de San Miguel, and Jose Moralas are all psyched on the gear. Redmond is still wearing the super old-school cotton-filled CP20S. Butera loves our Shock Jock cup and jock.
More tomorrow about today. Does that make sense?
stan the junior