Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown was one of the greatest baseball pitchers of all time. He’s in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Between 1904 and 1912 he won 186 games for the Chicago Cubs.
His nickname was “Three Finger” Brown because he had three fingers on his right hand. That’s kind of weird, nicknaming somebody after what makes them crippled. That’s like Bill “Broken Neck” Smith or Sally “Traumatic Brain Injury” Jones.
And actually, Three Finger Brown's right hand had four and a half fingers. His right index finger was cut off when he was a kid and he caught his hand in some farm machinery. But all his fingers on that hand were fucked up because he supposedly fell while chasing a rabbit as a child and broke them all. So, technically, his nickname should have been Mordecai “Completely Fucked up Right Hand” Brown.
But being crippled is what made Three Finger Brown a great pitcher. Ty Cobb said Three Finger’s curveball was the most devastating pitch he ever tried to hit. Because of the way Three Finger gripped the ball in his fucked up hand, his curve jumped and dipped like no one else’s.
That was long before pitchers were paid a zillion dollars. Suppose Three Finger was twirling his crazy cripple curve today. At first, all the other pitchers would see his fucked up pitching hand and laugh and call him names and not let him join in their pitcher games. But soon they’d all be struck by a bad case of cripple envy. Soon they would lop off their index fingers and beat their other fingers with hammers, all in an attempt to fuck up their hands enough to develop a crazy cripple curve of their own. Wouldn't that be cool?
Hell, giving up a finger is a small price to pay for a zillion dollar contract. And ballplayers will do any crazy ass thing in the name of “performance enhancement.” But it's not just ballplayers. Lots of guys are obsessed with “enhancing” their own “performance,” if you know what I mean. The most obsessed are those who perform the least. They attribute their lack of performance opportunities to a lack of “enhancement.” Guys who get trapped in this frame of mind might try any crazy ass enhancement scheme, too. So suppose Mordecai Brown had another nickname derived from some other freakish feature that made him perform better than the rest in another arena—something like Mordecai “Hung Like a Horse” Brown. And suppose, according to the legend, he became so enhanced as a result of mangling his right hand. Cripple envy would be rampant. It would be commonplace to see guys without index fingers, wild-eyed with rejection, out chasing rabbits.
I like to tell myself that I’m more evolved than those guys because I refuse to let others define my manhood. But I don’t know. I begin to doubt myself whenever I encounter Lady Grey tea in the grocery store. Lady Grey is kick-ass tea, but I can’t bring myself to buy a whole box off it because, you know, it’s called Lady Grey. I must be worried that the cashier will wonder what enjoying Lady Grey tea so much says about me. I know I should be much more worried about what giving a crap about what a stupid thing like that says about me says about me. But I can still only comfortably buy Lady Grey in the variety box where she’s surrounded by other butch teas like Irish Breakfast. This is much less conspicuous.