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The Big Goof Nails It

“I don’t know what it is about your face,” Rob Riggle as Randy the corporate douchebag enforcer tells Brennan (Will Ferrell) in Step Brothers, “but I just wanna deliver one of these right in your suck hole.” One of these refers to a fist Randy has made. Brennan asks if there’s anything he can do to change Randy’s opinion.

No, Randy says, even as he acknowledges “we’re all having a great time, having fun,” at the Catalina Wine Mixer Brennan has organized against all odds. It has nothing to do with the job he’s doing.

“It’s your face.”

“All I can do,” Brennan replies in his best professional manner, “is take that in, consider it, and I’ll just do my best version of whatever that would be.”

“I don’t even hear you,” Randy says. “You’re face is driving me nuts.”

Will he even last two innings? He lasted six!

At the risk of being a corporate douchebag enforcer, this, I’m afraid, is my default visceral reaction to Mike Pelfrey. He seems like such a nice guy — almost too endearing for someone who tries to throw a baseball hard and repeatedly every five days — and Ron Darling keeps insisting he’s an incredibly talented pitcher, but damn it, there’s something…I’d have to call it goofy about him that keeps me from believing Mike Pelfrey can ever mix his own pitches consistently and successfully.

For the uninitiated, the Catalina Wine Mixer [1] is the biggest helicopter-leasing event in the Western Hemisphere. It’s where you make your nut, it’s where you run with the bulls, it’s…it’s not just the Catalina Wine Mixer. It’s the Fuckin’ Catalina Wine Mixer. In the realm of Step Brothers, it means more than pitching against the Washington Nationals, but Mike Pelfrey, bless his goofy face and heart, had to start cashing checks and snapping necks somewhere in 2010. The Nationals would be the first challenge.

I didn’t think he had it in him, not in the second inning when a leadoff walk to Adam Dunn developed into a two-run triple from the eighth-place hitter Ian Desmond. I thought we were drifting even further from Catalina when Pelfrey stuck out his pitching hand in the third to flag down a bouncer from Nyjer Morgan. That was a Big Goof move right there, akin to his 2009 epidemic of falling down on the mound. Hell, it’s only the hand with which he makes one of these — a living.

Mike may drive me Pelfrey, but I want the best for him and us, so I held my breath and my visceral mistrust of his makeup and watched him try a warmup pitch. He survived the barehanded contact (two walks notwithstanding) in the third. He put a couple more baserunners on in the fourth, but survived that, too. He got several unlikely assists from his infielders as the night progressed — had to love Pelf galloping alongside Wright on that overshift, windblown popup in case David needed company — and, after six innings, Mike Pelfrey was, per Randy’s assessment of Brennan, nailing it [2].

Oh, runners got on and Pelf’s cap kept falling off, but he managed to stay on his two feet and not give up any more than those two runs from the second. There was some talk that at a relatively efficient 94 pitches he could have stayed in for the seventh, but soon enough, we had Francoeur and Barajas going “Pow! POW!” [3] while Wright hit one that was tall enough to clear most walls, but not the Pelfrey-sized one in left, and besides, Fernando Nieve had to pitch again. Fernando Nieve has to pitch every day. He’s Jerry’s new toy. Watch out Perpetual Pedro, here comes Nonstop Nieve.

By the end of Step Brothers, Brennan has nailed it so effectively, that all Randy the corporate douchebag enforcer can do is shed tears of ecstasy. I haven’t gone that far in response to Mike Pelfrey’s admirable first outing of the season, but when I saw his goofy face in the clubhouse afterwards, the only one of these I felt moved to give him was a hearty handshake.

But only if he promised to use his glove hand.