BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU baseball player Russell Reynolds has a routine.
He throws a pitch. He runs his fingers through the dirt. He licks his fingers. He rubs the bill of his hat. Throw, dirt, lick, rub, repeat. Every pitch. Without fail.
That routine got Reynolds in a little bit of trouble Wednesday night.
With his team leading 4-1 in the fifth inning of LSU’s 8-2 victory against Southeastern Louisiana, the senior right-hander quickly set down the first two opponents he faced. But after those two batters, SLU coach Matt Riser wanted the umpires to check on Reynolds’ hat to see if he was applying a banned substance to the baseball.
You see, Reynolds doesn’t like to think he’s superstitious. But in his five years at LSU, Reynolds has only worn two hats. He likes his hats to be broken in, and he has a small head with just a short mohawk for hair, so it’s hard to get a hat that fits him just right.
The hat he wore Wednesday night, as a result, is the same hat he’s worn for the last two years. And two seasons of rubbing licked dirt onto the bill of his hat has given his bill a brownish hue. A hue that could easily be mistaken for a banned substance used to alter the spin pattern of the ball.
Remember: It’s just dirt. But it doesn’t look that way. So, Riser asked the umps to check it out. Their investigation came back with zero results. And that should’ve been the end of the situation. But, a victim of his own intensity, Reynolds decided to cap off the ordeal with some choice words for the SLU dugout.
Gold Jerry, Gold!
Not safe for TV pic.twitter.com/NdVPcY5x1y
— Michael Cauble (@MichaelCauble) March 23, 2017
Reynolds walked the next batter he faced. He maintains the walk had nothing to do with the exchange. LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri didn’t see things that way. Mainieri pulled Reynolds after just three batters.
Thus ended the saga.
What was Russell thinking?
Reynolds is the kind of guy who pitches with intensity.
“I play the game with passion, emotion,” he said. “Every time I take the mound, I’m on edge. The edge I feel like I get over the hitter is being mad that he’s in the box and trying to get a hit off me. That’s what led to everything and me losing my composure.”
And if a cursing, dart-throwing senior yelling into the opponent’s dugout isn’t intimidation enough, add in the fact that Reynolds has been rocking a mohawk for more than two seasons.
Why does that matter? Well, when asked what he thought he saw on Reynolds’ hat after the game, Riser said he saw a shine. And Reynolds doesn’t know how a 2-year-old hat that “looks like it’s been run over” could gleam.
So, by default, Riser must’ve caught the reflection off his bic’d dome.
“I describe [the mohawk] as shiny,” Reynolds joked. “That’s usually when I bic the sides though. I gotta re-shave the sides, though. Maybe that’ll give off a shine. A little cocoa butter on the sides. That’s the only way you can get around it if you don’t want a rash on your head.”
Sound advice, if that’s the sort of the thing you’re looking for.