In Ball Four, Jim Bouton's hilarious memoir of his 1969 season as a pitcher with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros, there's a midsummer moment placing the Pilots' efforts in a proper global context. Bouton writes:
If you want to know what aspect of the moon landing was discussed most in the bullpen it was the sex life of the astronauts. We thought it a terrible arrangement that they should go three weeks or more without any sex life. Gelnar said that if those scientists were really on the ball they would have provided three germ-free broads for the astronauts.
Clearly, frivolity has long been a part of baseball culture. And if the Kansas City Royals go on to win the 2014 World Series, I'll hope there's a literary agent begging their catcher, Salvador Perez, to pen his own saucy memoir. For the laughs would never stop. Here, for example, is one of Perez's recent capers, courtesy of the New York Times' Tyler Kepner:
Perez wears women's perfume for every game. One day, shortstop Alcides Escobar--who said he wore it for good luck--sprayed some on Perez's jersey and told him he would get four hits. The prophecy came true, Perez said, so he ordered a dozen boxes. His preferred brands are Victoria's Secret and 212 VIP.
Umpires, he said, are grateful.
"You smell good, my friend, thank you," they tell him, according to Perez. "We sweat, stink, you know. We need to put on something--just on the field. A lot different off the field."
You might think inside jokes like this only occur in the raucous, rarified team settings of Major League Baseball. But one of the perks of working at Inc. is that you see how such quirky humor pervades the cultures of small businesses everywhere. And surprise, surprise: It's almost always a sign of a fun, tight-knit atmosphere.
For example, at Big Ass Solutions--the $122-million, 500-employee company formerly known as Big Ass Fans--founder and CEO Carey Smith has maintained a humor-laden culture as the organization has grown. There's a reason that, when he changed the company name earlier this year, he kept the "Big Ass" adjective and simply broadened the noun from "Fans" to "Solutions."
To wit, there's a 97-second YouTube video called "Because Not Everybody is a Big Ass Fan" which, in many ways, captures everything you need to know about the company's frivolously serious and seriously frivolous culture. It opens with voicemail recordings of customers expressing their ire over having received mailings from (what was then known as) Big Ass Fans, and then segues into a hip-hop melody as two employees dance and gesticulate gangsta-rap style while lip-syncing to the voicemails. The video is certainly not the most sensitive way to treat complaints. But it paints a vivid picture of how quirky and fun it can be to work at Big Ass Solutions.
And this is just one example of a company successfully integrating a "quirk" factor. My colleagues have described comparable idiosyncracies at Method, a San Francisco-based soapmaker, and Imgur, the meme- and image-hosting site.
In the Royals' 7-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night in Game 2, there was a moment in the sixth inning when it appeared the two squads would come to blows. A relief pitcher on the Giants glared at a Royals batter who'd just hit a home run. Before you could blink, both benches were empty, but it was the Royals' bench that had emptied "quite a bit faster than the Giants'," notes Dan Shaughnessy in the Boston Globe.
That's what tight-knit teams do. And as I watched the game, I couldn't help but think Perez's capers played a part in creating that unity. In addition to wearing women's perfume, Perez is something of a clubhouse documentarian. He is especially fond of chronicling the life of teammate Lorenzo Cain, using his iPhone camera to capture Cain "on the bus, in the training room, the weight room, and elsewhere, then posting short videos for his 65,000 or so followers on Instagram," writes Kepner.
The more games the Royals win, the followers Perez will get.
Which means a book deal won't be far behind.