Meet Vladimir Shpunt.
He knows next to nothing about baseball....
"It's very big work. My blood pressure may be 200," Shpunt said, with a hint of a smile. "I like this team to win."
How did he do it? the saner among you might ask.
Sounds crazy enough that it just might work, right? OK, maybe not. It actually sounds more like something from the fertile comic mind of Sacha Baron Cohen.
But the owner of one of Major League Baseball's most storied franchises, Frank McCourt, saw things differently:
On Sept. 26, 2008 -- one day after the Dodgers clinched the National League West championship and their third playoff berth in five years of McCourt ownership -- Frank was jubilant.
"Congratulations and thanks to you and vlad," Frank e-mailed [consultant Barry] Cohen [who introduced Shpunt to Mrs. McCourt]. "Also, pls pass along a special 'thank you' to vlad for all of his hard work.... This organization and this community will benefit a long time from our continued success. Thanks again."
It's clear that Shpunt is a fascinating scientist, and eccentric. (He apparently came to the attention of the Dodgers' owner in connection with his activities as a "healer.") But I'll need more evidence to convince me that a septuagenarian Russian physicist can hit a 110-kilometer-an-hour curveball -- psychically or otherwise.
And beware if you're tempted to think that stuff like this could only happen in California. Shpunt, who lives in the Boston area, could be coming to a team near you:
Would he say which athletes? He said he would, well, think about it.
-- Andy Heil