Why are we here? Is man the product of chance or creation? Where do we go after we shuffle off this mortal coil?
These are all important questions, but today our aim is to discuss a greater quandary in the pantheon of intellectual discourse: Why does Adrian Beltre freak out when you touch his head?
For the uninitiated, over the last 15 years and longer, Beltre has exhibited a deeply entrenched fear of people touching his head. He hates it. Can't stand it for a second.
It's a strange side story for the Texas Rangers third baseman, whose career accomplishments include three Silver Slugger Awards, four Gold Gloves, four All-Star selections and over 2,500 hits. He's a potential Hall of Famer and a respected veteran in the game, but after all this time, people still mess with him due to his gross overreaction to cranial contact.
Before we get into particulars of "why" Beltre is how he is, we must observe his habits. How does it happen?
For starters, the majority of Beltre-bothering comes from his own teammates.
How much did Martinez bother his teammate? Enough to make murder a semi-viable solution in Beltre's mind.
"Sometimes I thought about killing him," Beltre joked with MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. "But I thought about it. ... I have a family, so I didn't."
Martinez didn't start the tradition, though, as Sullivan reports:
Beltre said the head-rubbing began during his time in Seattle. Again, he won't reveal who was the first guy to do it.
"It was my fault," Beltre said. "I don't remember, but somebody did it and I told them I didn't like it. That's like telling them to do it again. You know they're going to do it because you don't like it. So they started doing it over and over again."
Now, Elvis Andrus has taken Martinez's place as the ringleader. He has Beltre's buttons on speed dial.
After that come the concerted, team-wide assaults on Beltre. Any time he belts a homer, his head is in for a genie lamp-style rubdown.
Then there are the not-so-sneaky sneak attacks.
It must be noted that the Rangers' petting of their third baseman paints too narrow a picture of Beltre's condition. He's been around the league a long while—long enough to make friends who feel completely justified in picking at his scalp like a loose scab.
Robinson Cano favors bulk attempts over stealth.
Miguel Cabrera prefers to woo Beltre with flattery before making his intentions known.
Even mascots get in on the trolling.
At some point in life, Beltre's aversion began to manifest itself physiologically. His paranoia has granted him the neck reflexes of a pit viper. Watch as he goes into Bullet Time to avoid a swipe from Cano.
Now, let's see all these moving parts together. It's time to take a look at a montage of Beltre's tormentors and try to piece this phenomenon together, Carrie from Homeland style.
This is an epidemic, and there certainly appears to be no end in sight. Beltre's aversion to head-patting has reached such fame that one crafty individual took it upon himself or herself to give it a theme song.
All Beltre does is wince—but why?
Why does the merest graze of his head elicit this response? The media has yet to be able to dig the answer out of Beltre, and it's not for lack of trying.
SB Nation's Amy K. Nelson traveled to the 2012 All-Star Game for the sole purpose of getting to the bottom of Beltre's heady hangup. In the gentlest way possible, she tried to get Beltre to open up on the subject.
He barely budged.
His teammates at every franchise admit they've tried to psychologically profile Beltre, but to no avail.
At this juncture, I'd like to step in and postulate a few theories as to the roots of Adrian Beltre's head-touching fear.
No. 1: He's terrified of balding.
At 35 years old, Beltre is under attack from the reaper known as male pattern balding. This is prime molting season for men his age, and any interference with his scalp could disrupt the Rogaine he applied before heading to the ballpark.
No. 2: He's a germaphobe.
Plenty of people can't stand being touched by strangers, and it would be no large surprise if Beltre is afraid of catching whooping cough from an errant head rub.
No. 3: He was abducted by aliens.
The most plausible answer to all of this is rooted in the distinct possibility that Beltre was the victim of an alien abduction at some point in his life.
It's likely that he was taken long ago—perhaps as a child—and whisked away into a spaceship for testing. Naturally, the extraterrestrials would've dug around in his head with sophisticated instruments (I find "probes" derogatory), neuralized his memory and dropped him off none the worse for the wear—save for an acute and persistent fear of people tinkering with his skull.
These are my theories, and I stand by them.
The sad part is, we may never know the cause of this strange phobia. Beltre's refusal to speak on his discomfort has stonewalled progress in the field of study for years.
Feel free to lay out your own explanations in the comments. Every idea—even the weirdest—could help us crack the hair-trigger lock on Adrian "Don't Touch Me Bro" Beltre's head.
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