Bullpen Catcher Eats Moths and Boogers

You know what’s an excellent story to write at the

end of baseball spring training

, when all the news has been exhausted and everybody’s just waiting for the real season to start? A profile of one of the game’s supporting characters—someone who lives life right alongside the star players, working in obscurity. It shouldn’t be just some arbitrarily chosen,

symbolic regular guy

, but someone who grabs people’s attention.

The Wall Street Journal’s Scott Cacciola found a great attention-grabber in

Jeff Motuzas

, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ bullpen catcher—a legend among players and staff around the game for his ability to eat disgusting things and subject himself to other forms of torment, for cash. Basically, he is the booger-eating warrior hero of the middle-school lunchroom, only with higher stakes and more revolting ingredients, including regurgitated yogurt, “a concoction of chewing tobacco dip spit and 3-day-old chili,” and a pair of live moths, which won Motuzas $200 from the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen.

Since ballplayers are middle schoolers with millions of dollars at their disposal—Livan Hernandez made a deal “to punch Motuzas in the groin for $50 a pop whenever he felt the urge”; Motuzas “let pitcher Dan Haren fire at him from close-range with a BB gun”—Motuzas has secured a healthy second income stream from the stunts. It’s arbitrage, more or less: working the difference between what a hundred bucks means to a 39-year-old ex-minor leaguer and what it means to a baseball star a decade younger.