The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Mickey Mouse Baseball

It's Subway Series time, and if you can detect the lack of enthusiasm here, well, that's because the series finds the Yankees -- 12th on this week's Hit List -- reeling as they head out to Shea Stadium, 18-21 and having lost their last two series. Here's what I had to say about them:
It Gets Late Early Out There: five losses in seven games drive the Yankees back under .500 and a whopping 9.5 games out of first place in the AL East, and with series against the Hit List's top two teams on deck, things aren't about to get easier. The offense hits like the Ghost of Joe Girardi for the week (.232/.286/.365), surrendering the scoring lead after cobbling together just 22 runs (luckily, they still lead the league in vaunting). While Jorge Posada (.375) and Derek Jeter (.368) are 1-2 in the AL batting race, Bobby Abreu (.236/.306/.304 -- he's finally hitting like Kevin Stocker), Robinson Cano (.234/.276/.324) and Alex Rodriguez (.237/.348/.303 with one homer since his initial binge) are all mired in slumps, and 900 runs no longer look like Smooth Jay Jaffe's Lock of the Year (though it is a pretty big lock).
I had more to add, but with the entry already the longest on the list, I skipped noting Kyle Farnsworth's edict that nobody, not even Roger Clemens, should be allowed to avoid watching him pour gasoline on the Yankee fires. Yes, yes, Farnsworth's been riding a relatively solid streak lately; BP's stats still have him as their fourth-most effective reliever behind other six million dollar arms like Brian Bruney and Sean Henn, and with data like that, is it any wonder why the Yanks outrank only the Royals among AL bullpens in Reliever Expected Wins Added?

The Mets, of course, are the #2 team on the Hit List, while the Red Sox, whom the Yanks play next Monday through Wednesday, top the list for the second week in a row. Mott the Hoople, Kevin Stocker, Waffle House, the 2003 Winter Meetings and lots of Simpsons references this week, along with a reminder of one of the first ballgames I remember attending, which bears some explanation.

As regular readers know, I grew up in Salt Lake City, which at the time my dad started taking me to games housed the Gulls, the Triple-A franchise of the California Angels. One night during the 1978 season, my dad, my brother and I found ourselves sitting one row of metal grandstand benches above a father and son who lived across the street from us; I think their names were Gordon and Keith, respectively, and that the latter, a shy, sandy blond-haired kid, was in my brother's class.

At some point, with a man on first base, one Gull pummeled the ball into deep right-center, and he was barreling out of the box thinking double all the way. The runner on first base, however, assumed the ball would be caught, so went only partway between first and second. When the ball dropped, the speeding batter passed the momentarily paralyzed runner and was called out, at which point the heretofore seemingly mild-mannered Gordon was moved to yell, "Oh come on! You guys are playing Mickey Mouse baseball out there!"

From then on, any time I thought of the combination of Disney's most famous character and baseball, I associated it with a particularly horseshit level of play (though the 2002 Angels, as annoying as they were, forced me to reconsider this). Thus I was excited that either the Devil Rays or the Rangers dropped an entire three-game series to the other when playing at the Rays' temporary second home at the Disney Wide World of Sports stadium, which holds only 7,500 seats, in Orlando, because I got to use the phrase "Mickey Mouse baseball" for Texas' performance there. Hey, if you can't entertain yourself, why write at all?

Inspired by the greatness of Cardboard Gods, I'll have more to come on the Gulls soon...

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