Special to Page 2
Nothing has slowed down the New York Yankees so far this season. Nothing, that is, outside of the intestinal parasite currently afflicting Jason Giambi and Kevin Brown.
Giambi returned to the Yankees lineup on Monday night after the parasite had limited him to just three pinch-hitting appearances since June 26. Meanwhile, Brown's return to the rotation from back problems has been delayed due to his diagnosis with the parasite.
It wasn't easy -- the critter is pretty small, after all -- but Page 2's D.J. Gallo sat down with the reclusive parasite recently for an exclusive interview. They talked about its past, how it found its way inside the two Yankees stars, and its plans for the future.
Page 2: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, Intestinal Parasite. Maybe to get started, and for those readers who might not know, you could explain a little bit about what parasites are.
Intestinal Parasite: Sure thing. A parasite is an organism that grows and feeds on another organism while contributing absolutely nothing to its host. We like to think of ourselves as miniature versions of sports agents. In fact, we have a pact that we'll never infect Scott Boras or Drew Rosenhaus. And we're close to coming to a similar agreement with the posses of several NBA stars.
P2: So far, you've been confirmed inside not only Jason Giambi and Kevin Brown, but Giambi's wife, too. Have you afflicted any other Yankees? By any chance were you to blame for Derek Jeter's performance at the beginning of the year?
IP: No, they can't pin Jeter on me. He just stunk. I had nothing to do with that. But remember when Steinbrenner passed out at Otto Graham's memorial service last December? That was so me. I got him pretty good.
I'm also inside of Enrique Wilson these days. In fact, he's had intestinal parasites since he came to the Yankees. But for some reason, nobody on the Yankees seems to be concerned about how weak he is. It's strange.
P2: You seem to really go after the Yankees. Do you dislike them for some reason?
IP: I'm definitely not a Yankees fan. I had a second cousin who was killed by Mickey Mantle back in the '60s, so my family has always disliked them to a degree. Mantle took massive amounts of ... I think he called them 'antibiotics' after he contracted her during a trip to Mexico. She drowned almost immediately. But I'm working with the Yankees now simply because I love sports, and there is no bigger team to be a part of than the Yankees.
Plus, my family has a long history in professional sports. Not only was there the Mantle incident, but my uncle, who was a parasitic heartworm, lived in Schottzie for a while back in the early '90s in Cincinnati.
P2: Can you tell us about all the attention you've been getting since you found your way inside Giambi and Brown?
IP: Oh, it's been fantastic. In Boston, I could run for mayor and win. And Mets fans seem to really appreciate what I've done, too.
See, parasites like me are often found in under-developed, third-world countries. It's every parasite's dream to make it to America one day and set up residence inside somebody who is well-fed and healthy. But to make it into a rich, famous athlete -- the type of person who only eats at the finest and most hygienic places -- and get talked about in the papers and on "SportsCenter" ... well, it's just unheard-of for a parasite. I've been very lucky.
P2: There has been some debate as to where and when Giambi and Brown contracted you. They think it was when they traveled to Japan to play the Devil Rays in March, but the team physician doesn't think so. Can you shed some light on this?
IP: Well, I don't want to point the finger -- or tail, in my case -- at any one country. But let me say this: I heard Jason say the other day that he and his wife were "wracking their brains" to think of where they got me, and that the only place they could think of was Japan because both they and Brown were there at the beginning of the season. Now, my brain may only be a fraction of the size of theirs, but I don't have to wrack it to know that they've all spent a lot more time in New York than Japan. Plus, you don't see Hideki Matsui with parasites. So take that for what it's worth. I'm just glad to be living off of the nutrients from Giambi's intestines, and not from what he's got up in his brain. I'd be starving to death.
P2: What's it been like to be inside Jason Giambi?
IP: I've really enjoyed it. Jason's favorite food is pizza, and so is mine; so it's been great in that way. Pizza provides a very balanced diet -- meat, dairy, grains, vegetables -- it's all in there. Thanks to Jason's eating habits, I'm a healthy intestinal parasite. We have a wonderful symbiotic relationship.
P2: Giambi has been linked to the BALCO steroids scandal. Have you seen any evidence of steroid use while you've been inside him?
IP: I can't speak to the time before I found him, but he has been totally clean since I got here. And I'll tell you something: Everybody would know if he'd been taking steroids while I'm in there. You know that stomach-bursting thing in the "Alien" movies? Pump me up with the nutrients from anabolic steroids and I'd make what happened to Sigourney Weaver's abdomen look like child's play. Jason wouldn't know what hit him.
P2: And as for Kevin Brown -- how has that been?
IP: Well, the biggest thing with Kevin was the runs.
P2: You mean how he's struggling with his ERA this year?
IP: No, the runs.
p2: You mean the Yankees weren't giving him enough run support?
IP: No, the runs. Do I have to spell it out for you? I gave them to him bad. He hasn't left the bathroom much lately.
P2: Oh, I see. Gross. So what's next for you?
IP: Well, soon, these new-fangled antibiotics they're taking will begin to kick in; so if I don't pack up and move on soon, I'll die. I'm just hoping I can stick it out until the All-Star Game, because I'd be really excited to accompany Jason to Houston and get to interact with all the other players. And like I said, I love sports, so I'd like to stay involved with athletes even after I leave the Yankees. I'd like to make a positive impact on an athlete, since we parasites always get so much flak for taking away from our hosts.
I'm thinking I could try to get inside Sidney Ponson for the rest of the season, just to see what he could do if he lost a few pounds. Then during the football season, I could do Warren Sapp. And maybe come basketball season, I'll go in Shaq and help him trim down. Really, I'm perfect for any fat, out-of-shape athlete. A few extra trips to the bathroom would be worth the weight loss for guys like that.
Most of all, I'd really like to give back to parasites who haven't been as fortunate as I am. I want to start a charity program where young parasites from third-world countries have their travel costs covered to come to the U.S., and are then set up inside the bodies of professional athletes to live and work and fulfill their dreams. Even though I'm a parasite, I think it's important to give back.
But regardless of what I do next, I'm sure you'll be hearing from me again.
D.J. Gallo is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine, as well as the founder and sole writer of the award-winning sports satire site SportsPickle.com.