When he was a Louisiana eighth-grader, Johnny Giavotella was a running back. As he entered high school, he focused on defense, and when he reached college he eschewed football altogether.
But he has always retained one trick he learned on the gridiron.
"Whenever I was close to the end zone and I knew someone was coming," Giavotella said, "I would just dive in there."
Today, the dive is unmistakable. When pressed for time on the basepaths, he invariably leaps onto his belly several feet from the bag and rides it out from there. Like he had scored a touchdown, he returns to his feet visibly excited, and his teammates hoot and...