Friday, January 16, 2009

Real People

One of the expressions I hate to hear baseball fans use is “I’m rooting for laundry”. It reduces a team to stats on a page and trading cards.

I love the personalities of baseball players, their tremendous abilities, unquantifiable contributions on the field, their quirks and yes even the flaws of the very human men who play the game. That’s why I loathe the likes of those fans who cite only the numbers and analysis they read in places like Baseball Prospectus. The fact they over emphasize numbers on their site is not a coincidence - a large part of BP’s founding writers were financial types (bankers, stockbrokers etc) which is why they appear to only read boxscores and crunch stats for their "over" analysis of players – how else could they have come to the conclusion that Eurbiel Durazo was going to be a star?(that was until he actually walked to the plate and started batting against real major league pitching) .

But I digress – my point is that I think the situation with Michael Young this week proves that teams are not just uniforms. Those uniforms are inhabited by grown men who are professionals taking pride in their positions and achievements like every other working person. I hated the analogies comparing Michael to some rebellious teenager on the Lamar Vikings JV Baseball Squad. My preferred analogy: what if you were a prominent, successful, divorce attorney in a prestigious firm - then one day the senior partner walks in your office one day and says – "We’ve got a guy from Harvard who hasn’t passed the bar exam yet, but we’re going to give him your office and your job. You are now a Tax Attorney – please pack up your stuff and move out of this office to another we have set up for you." How would you feel? Hey, you are still an attorney, and the law is the law isn’t it? You’re still working for the firm? Shouldn't you just shut up and play?

Look, I think there’s fault on both sides. Michael probably over reacted and getting the information out in the national press without the organization’s knowledge (and I imagine to the chagrin of the local media types) was a bad idea. Although the Rangers front office has often been guilty of doing pretty much the same thing (bad mouthing players they’ve traded or lost to free agency). In the end the Jon Daniels got what he wanted, but as always, it was another publicly botched up mess which seems to be the Rangers enduring legacy.

I think the question now is – what happened to the mantra about patience with the minor league prospects? We keep reading and hearing that it’s not about 2009 – so what is the big rush in getting Elvis to the major leagues? Especially since he’s never played an inning of AAA baseball? I saw Andrus play quite a bit in Frisco, and yes, I do think that he’s pretty close defensively to being ready for the majors – but I’m not sure about offense. Here’s some stat head numbers: in his first 192 AB’s (April and May) in Frisco he hit .268 – he hit .258 for the season vs LHP and don’t forget that he had almost three times as many K’s as BB’s last season (38 BB – 91 K). I kind of wonder what fan reaction will be when (not if) Elvis struggles, especially early on this season. JD had better start working on explanations right now.

I wish we could go back to having a very boring off season instead of what went on last week.

Finally: I know that new Hall of Famer Jim Rice had a reputation of being surly, but not always. Back in the early 80’s my Aunt Cathi loved to take pictures, she had hundreds of photos of Rangers and other AL players. The Red Sox were in town, Carl Yazstremski was one of my grandfather’s favorite players, Aunt Cathi was trying to get a picture of him to send back home, but was having no luck (and Carl was being a bit surly himself). Jim Rice watched in amusement as she tried to get Carl’s attention . He walked over to my aunt, asked how her camera worked, took the camera from her and proceeded to get pictures of Yaz (even got him to smile) brought the camera back to her with a gentlemanly bow. To my Aunt Cathi, Jim Rice will always be one of the good guys.

My advice to those who “root for laundry” buy a Kwik Wash and enjoy yourself – in my world baseball is (thankfully) played by real people with the same kind of pride, emotions and faults as all of the rest of us. -- Marla Hooch

4 comments:

dwcats67 said...

"We keep reading and hearing that it’s not about 2009 – so what is the big rush in getting Elvis to the major leagues?"

I think he'll get some time in the minors in 2009 while MY gets time adjusting to 3rd base. In the summer, Elvis comes up and has half a season to adjust. Then, in 2010 when the team is supposed to be able to compete, both are more acclimated to their positions and are more likely to really contribute. But I could be wrong.

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Micah said...

"My preferred analogy: what if you were a prominent, successful, divorce attorney in a prestigious firm and one of the senior partners walks in your office one day and says – we’ve got a guy from Harvard who hasn’t passed the bar exam yet, but we’re going to give him your office and your job. You are now a Tax Attorney – please pack up your stuff and move out of this office to another we have set up for you."

Amen!! This is exactly how I saw the situation too. I tried to think of it in terms of my job...my boss coming in and telling me that they were giving a new grad my job and I was going to sell ads, but they would still like me to help mentor the new grad/editor. I can't imagine I'd react very well.

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