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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Molinas to Appear on SI Swimsuit Cover

A month ago, Bengie Molina was in a unique situation. Because of his time spent with both the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants during the 2010 season, Bengie knew he'd be getting a championship ring, regardless of the outcome of the World Series.

Now he's in an even more unique situation: he'll be the first man to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated's famous swimsuit issue.

Or, at least, one of the first. His younger brothers Yadier and José, also MLB catchers, will join him.

Why the brothers will be featured on the swimsuit issue was unclear until we talked to SI's Logistics Director, Patrick Pigeon. It seems the Molinas were booked to come in the same time the swimsuit issue was being shot. "We have a complicated, rigid production schedule", explains Pigeon. "Photoshoots, articles, features, all that stuff is submitted months in advance so it can be shipped off to Korea to be put together. The stuff we're working on now comes out in February. So if the Molinas come in on a particular day, they're in a particular issue. And it just so happens that issue is the swimsuit issue."

It seems the unintentional scheduling gaffe was brought about by student intern Katie Stewart. "I just booked them when they were free. Why can't SI just archive the photos and article for a different issue? This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of."

The person most affected by this situation, besides everyone in the world who will eventually see the cover with their eyes, is SI's Head of Bikini Matters, John Cox. "So now I've been given two tasks. I have to shoot a swimsuit cover, and I have to shoot a Molina cover. And it has to be the same cover. What other choice do I have? I'm shooting the Molinas in speedos."

Now, it doesn't seem too outlandish to eventually make a conscious decision to feature men on the cover of the SI swimsuit issue. It's even conceivable that professional baseball players could work their way into that role - it is a sports magazine, after all, and there are some good-looking baseball players. Grady Sizemore of the Cleveland Indians, for example, has spawned a loyal fan-base of female fans calling themselves "Grady's ladies".

The Molinas are decidedly not part of that demographic of baseball players. Bengie, in particular, is often described as the slowest player in Major League Baseball, a deficiency that stems largely from his hefty 5'11", 225 lb. frame.

Future swimsuit model Bengie Molina
John Cox may initially seem resentful of being put in this situation, but when he starts to tell us some of his ideas, it becomes clear that he's relishing his most difficult creative challenge to date. "I thought about having them wear their catching helmets in the shot, so you couldn't tell which is which, except by looking at their bodies. I mean, that's the goal of a swimsuit issue: draw attention to the bodies."

And helmets aren't the only pieces of equipment under consideration. Cox is even thinking about photographing the Molina brothers nude, covered only by - what else? - a baseball bat.

Of course, the cover isn't limited to just the Molinas. Female models may appear with the brothers, if Cox and his team can find a way to make it work. "You know that thing where beautiful women dress in stereotypically male outfits? Like the sexy construction worker, or the sexy cop? Well, why not the sexy back-catcher? You don't know what's under that mask, and that chest protector, and those shin guards, but you know you want it."

Bengie, for his part, is excited. "Every kid wants to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Most don't expect it to be in the swimsuit issue, but it's a dream come true either way. Plus, it'll be a chance to show people that I do actually have a pretty rockin' body."

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