By Eric Neel and Patrick Hruby
Page 2

EDITOR'S NOTE: Can't hold back the truth any longer, especially if it's going to set us free here at the Page 2 editing desk: Eric Neel and Patrick Hruby are a couple of nags. They nag us about this; they nag us about that. They nag us about the other thing, too. Frankly, we've had enough. From here on out, we're making make them nag each other in a new Page 2 debate-format series called 'Two on 2.' And what better way to start it than to make them nag each other about Moises Alou's Magic Callus Elixir ...

TWO ON 2, Volume 1, No. 1
Resolved: Moises Alou and Jorge Posada are right to use urine to toughen up their hands for hitting.

Patrick Hruby goes Pro ...
It is a tragic, lamentable waste. A crime, really. A precious natural resource, literally trickled away. Day after day. Hour after hour. Minute after minute, if and when a six-pack of Heineken is involved.

Into the porcelain bowl. Through the mountain spring-scented urinal cakes. Down the dark and gaping drain, never to be seen again (barring a federal subpoena). Such is the sad fate of Major League urine. And for what? So that supposedly rugged professional ballplayers, those knockabout heirs to the proud, manly tradition of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, can blow their million-dollar salaries on metrosexual, File-It-Like-Beckham manicures?

No. No. A thousand times no.

I come not to flush Moises Alou and Jorge Posada, but rather to free them. To unzip them from the surly bonds of nattering revulsion and public scorn. To baptize them in a golden stream of overdue praise and heartfelt thanks.

Moises Alou
The other player in the photo asked that he not be cropped in.

Earlier this week, Alou and Posada admitted that they urinate on their hands to improve their batting grips. How so? As Posada puts it, "it keeps your hands from getting callused and cracking."

Some deem this practice unsanitary. Others label it disgusting. Au contraire. Urine produced by a healthy person is both sterile and non-toxic. Better still, it's packed with valuable biological compounds such as urea. Also, urine is free. While a bottle of first-rate hand lotion will run you $5 or more, a cup of fresh urine only requires a bladder, a glass of water and at least one working kidney.

Stepping outside the selfish stall of individual gain, aiming for the hands is the sort of green-friendly practice that all Americans can get behind. Even Ralph Nader. In an era where Western states brawl over shared and dwindling water supplies -- where great cities like Phoenix and, er, Phoenix are forced to make hard choices between more swimming pools and infinite golf course development -- urine offers a Third Way.

Give back to Mother Earth. Fertilize the outfield. Take a stand against dust and smog. Wet down the basepaths. Putting one's whiz to use isn't merely the right way to soften calluses. It's right. Period.

Indeed, hand care is just the beginning. If a wondrous, biodegradable substance like urine can soothe the savage grip, then surely it can soften leather gloves. Stain wooden bats. Wash sunflower seeds and tobacco juice stains from dirty clubhouse floors.

Ultimately, lines at the stadium bathroom may join the Bullpen Car in the dustbin of hardball history, replaced by a system of seatside mini-aqueducts that lead directly into the dugout -- so that no player, even the most dehydrated, will suffer from the pain and heartache of cracked palms.

Will baseball's new Age of Aquarius, the ol' water-bearer lugging a bucket of warm No. 1, dawn overnight? Of course not. The dam is just beginning to crack. In time, however, spontaneous urination will be seen as an all-natural part of the game, like grabbing one's genitalia or ejecting softball-sized clumps of saliva-soaked chewing tobacco from the corner of one's mouth.

Until then, I salute Alou, Posada and every other ballplayer stout enough to etch his name in the pristine snow of social progress. Go with the flow, brave souls. Go with the flow.

Top Ten Grossest Things in Sports
Think peeing on your hands is gross? Page 2's Jim Caple lists 10 things that are far more disgusting in sports.
Eric Neel plays the Con artist ...
This kind of talk sickens me.

Not since Madonna told Letterman about it curing athlete's foot have I been so p---ed off.

I expect potty-mouthed pre-teens and frat boys to whip this kind of thing out, but our icons and athletes ought to be held to a higher standard.

Like the immortal I.P. Freely, Alou and Posada are heroes to the kids and the common man, and they have too much influence over the general public to go spouting off like this.

First, it's the grossest sort of self-indulgence. Haven't the fans, the good baseball people of this country, put up with enough of watching the modern athlete become completely absorbed in himself? And (excuse me, there is no delicate way to say this) if there is whizzing to be done, shouldn't it, at long last, be the fans who get to rain on the players' parade?

Second, and perhaps more importantly, Alou and Posada should get their facts straight before they take matters into their own hands. This talk of human urine toughening the hands is nothing but an old wives' tale. You don't use urine to build up calluses.

You use it to fend off rabbits in the garden. Everybody knows that.

You can also use it, along with a can of Pepsi, a tablespoon of baking soda, a splash of bleach, and the rind of a three-days-past-ripe avocado to rid your roses of aphids. That's Botany 101.

The idea that you'd use it to harden the skin is just bad science when it's common knowledge that a half-pint of the stuff, when mixed with equal parts maple syrup and rat poison, will clear your fuel line of those nasty deposits that can lead to knocks and pings.

Furniture and chrome polish? Of course, if you add a pinch of cornstarch, apply as a paste, let dry, and wipe clean with a jeweler's cloth. Grout cleaner? Duh. Denture soak? Absolutely. But for calluses? No way.

Jorge Posada
Yeah, Jorge, we feel you.

A callus requires friction, an encounter with something alien. There's too much me in my wee for the necessary viscosity. The hands, frequent hosts to splashes off the back wall of the urinal, know their body's fluids well. They won't rally their cells to fight off the golden spray, they'll absorb it, or wipe it on their jerseys, and move on.

Another player's urine might do the trick, I suppose, but without a court order and a note from Don Fehr, it's going to be near impossible to come by, and that's before we get to the social stigmas that come from asking around for a willing donor.

And while it's true that there's a natural acidity in the call of nature, we're not talking about ridding the palms of freckles or making them look perky for photographs. We're talking about getting them ready for wielding a bat. Typically, urine is too thin, too transparent for that kind of work; it lacks a certain requisite stoutness.

What you need for calluses is something like the distillate of chew spit, reduced over medium-high heat and combined with a tincture of mound dirt. Or the crusted muck of Edgar Martinez's helmet, which when mixed into a protein shake is said to give you a second skin and then some.

You can't settle for the easy clean of urine. If you want to be a hitter, you have to go the extra mile.

Remember George Brett and the pine tar incident? It wasn't pine tar at all; it was droppings from the floor of the horse stalls in his barn. I know what you're thinking: That's disgusting. But let me ask you this: You ever see anyone handle a bat better than George?

Maybe Ted Williams. And how'd Teddy Ballgame get the hands ready? Dipped them in small bowls of liquid nitrogen like he was soaking 'em in Palmolive.

Gum from the underside of the dugout bench, that's a start.

Salt from the band of a pitcher's cap has callus possibilities.

But a splash of your own yellow? Forget about it. That ain't nothing but a drop in the bucket.

Patrick Hruby is a sportswriter for the Washington Times. Eric Neel is a regular columnist for Page 2.




Eric
Neel
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Patrick
Hruby
TWO ON 2