Middle fingers of yesteryear: Jack McDowell

Former Cy Young Award winner and alternative rock guitarist Jack McDowell’s one year in Yankee pinstripes was marked by 15 wins, 157 strikeouts and one extended middle finger.

His was the disillusioned, Kurt Cobain variety of the gesture, the depressed grunge-rocker wildly and ineffectively firing back at a world he felt could never truly understand him.

But it was a cathartic middle finger, it turned out:

“That incident actually helped set things straight between me and the fans, to let people know where I was coming from. I truly believe that once all the BS was put aside and everybody was done trying to make more out of that than it was, that’s what came out of it.”

In 17 starts that season before giving fans the finger, McDowell went 7-6 with a 4.87 ERA. In 13 starts afterward, he went 8-4 with a 2.81 ERA.

Makes you wonder why the guy didn’t flip off fans a month or two earlier.

Much later, a band called The Baseball Project featuring R.E.M.’s Peter Buck wrote a song about McDowell called “The Yankee Flipper,” and confessed that part of McDowell’s frustration could have been due to a long night of drinking with members of the band.

Today, McDowell writes a blog about the White Sox for ChicagoNow.com.

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