August 26, 2011
He's a flame-throwing right-hander from parts unknown. He sports some very unique facial hair and a pair of glasses that remind us of a man known as "Wild Thing" Rick Vaughn. Altogether, he sort of looks like Judah Friedlander.
His name: Larry Bernandez.
We first met Bernandez during spring training when he attempted to the make an unscheduled start during an exhibition game. Manager Eric Wedge (then-manager, anyway) nipped that in the bud quickly, but Bernandez's popularity has since taken on a life of its own. Fans have come to Safeco Field donning wigs and glasses that resemble Bernandez. His t-shirt has taken over the Mariners clubhouse. He even has several twitter accounts and facebook pages in his honor (also this one).
And now comes the next logical step in the marketing of Seattle's newest sports legend. His very own bobblehead doll, which the Mariners will be handing to fans prior to their Saturday night meeting with the Chicago White Sox.
All right, so Bernandez is actually the alter-ego of Seattle's ace, Felix Hernandez. But hey, if you're going to clone a pitcher — while adding mutton chop sideburns, stringy hair and big, horn-rimmed glasses — it might as well be the most dominant pitcher in the American League. It's just unfortunate that Hernandez's other alter-ego — the long-haired left-hander simply known as "Jerry," who also appeared in the Bernandez commercial — has kind of become the odd-ego out here. Which is unusual, given the high demand for left-handers.
Oh, well. Now, one just has to wonder if the folks in the Milwaukee Brewers marketing department are taking notes. There's only alter ego in baseball more popular than Bernandez, and that's Tony Plush. How long do they wait before he's immortalized in the same manner?