The Leather Lather - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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The Leather Lather

Every player has his own theory of mitt management
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BRIAN ROBERTS,Second Baseman The six-year veteran uses Nike gloves and switched to a new onethis season after four years with his old leather. "It just got so bad, itwas a mess," says Roberts of his old model, which gave him a scare lastyear. After Roberts "had the web break" during a game, he finished outthe inning with a new glove before the old one was repaired. "I was prayingthey didn't hit it to me," he says.

ROBERTS KEEPS thatmemory-rich glove hanging in his locker, and while his new one is handled a bitmore roughly—"I just throw it in there," he says—it gets the fullRoberts treatment. "Every inning I spray inside the glove with stickystuff," he says. "It's like the adhesive used for taping your ankles. Ilike the glove to feel like it's stuck on my hand. I [also] spray it on theinside of my palm. I don't care if people put their hands in it, but mostpeople are scared of my glove. People say it is nasty."

CHRIS GOMEZ,Utilityman Unlike most big leaguers, Gomez doesn't treat his new Mizunoinfielder's or first baseman's gloves with anything. "You can pretty muchtake it out of the bag and use it," says the 35-year-old, who plays allfour infield positions. "I break them in by just using them. The leather issoft."

YET GOMEZ iscareful about preserving his gloves. He won't use one of his gamers for playingcatch, and in his locker he arranges them one inside the next. "My gameglove on the left, then my practice glove, then my game first base glove. Iwant my game glove to be formed to my practice glove." He's meticulousabout packing for road trips—" I don't want them to move in the bag, so Ipack them, then pack stuff all around them" he says—and as for letting ateammate try his moneymaker on for size? Says Gomez, "My game infieldglove? Never. If someone puts a big paw into it and stretches it out, I'll haveto squeeze it to hold it on. I like it snug."

The Pop CultureGrid

[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

How do sports stars fit in?

Paris Hilton going to jail is ...

Number of showers I took today

Last song I downloaded

On Sundays, I'd rather be ...

Last blog you read

My favorite hero is ...

NICK SWISHER Athletics RF

Funny. I don't know what she did

Two

Sweet Escape (Gwen Stefani, above)

Chilling in the pool

What's a blog?

My grandma

HUNTER FREEMAN Red Bulls D

Interesting

Three

The Way I Live (Baby Boy Da Prince)

Playing golf

Something on ESPN.com

John Wayne

GIL MECHE Royals P

Horrible

Three

Me and My Gang (Rascal Flatts)

At my parents' house

No idea. I hate computers

He-Man

RICH HILL Cubs P

Reality TV

Two

Street Corner Symphony (Rob Thomas)

Golfing

bostondirtdogs.com

Spiderman

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STEVE MITCHELL/AP (ROBERTS HEADSHOT)

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MARK GOLDMAN/ICON SMI (ROBERTS PLAYING)

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CHARLES KRUPA/AP (GOMEZ PLAYING)

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ADAM HUNGER/US PRESSWIRE (GOMEZ HEADSHOT)

PHOTO

BRAD MANGIN (SWISHER)

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ROB TRINGALI/GETTY IMAGES (FREEMAN)

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ORLIN WAGNER/AP (MECHE)

PHOTO

BYRON HETZLER/US PRESSWIRE (HILL)

PHOTO

ISAAC BREKKEN/AP (HILTON)

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PARAMOUNT HOME VIDEO/PHOTOFEST (WAYNE)

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KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/AP (STEFANI)

THREE PHOTOS