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, August 21, 2009


Friday's Child (Part 2)

One of my favorite musicians is the late, great pop genius Lee Hazlewood. As a singer he brought a wry sense of humor, world-weary view and distinctive baritone to both originals and covers. As a writer, he wrote "These Boots Are Made For Walking" and other hits which turned Nancy Sinatra into a superstar. As a producer, he was genuinely groundbreaking, the man who put the reverb Duane Eddy's guitar and impressed a young Phil Spector with his proto-Wall of Sound.

Though I already owned a handful of his reissues, a couple years ago I tracked down a bunch of his out-of-print albums via the Internet, and I now have about 24 hours worth of his music stuffed into my iTunes. For whatever reason, Hazlewood's whacked-out combination of pop, country, lounge and psychedelia has somehow become one of my soundtracks of choice when I'm under the gun, downright soothing yet delightfully weird. When I get on an airplane or a train, I calm my travel anxieties with his gentle, gorgeous 1970 album Cowboy in Sweden. When I'm stressing out while facing a deadline, I always seem to start my playlist with his 1966 album Friday's Child:

Recently the latter was given a lush re-release on the limited-edition Rhino Handmade label as part of three-albums-and-change set called Strung Out on Something New. Worth seeking out if you're hip to his sound, though probably not for novices. Anyway, that's where the title of this post came from, though it's got historical antecedents as well.

Onto the leftovers from my last post...

• On Wednesday I did a chat at Baseball Prospectus. Here's a taste:
dianagramr (Cubehenge): Good afternoon Jay ... thanks for the chat. Has the cloud of PEDs tarnished or thrown into the question the relevance of election to the HOF? (and yes, I know the exclusion of African-Americans prior to 1947 tarnished the HOF already) Jeter is a HOFer, yes? A-Rod, in the wake of his "confession"? Damon?

JJ: Hi Diana. I think the question of PEDs and the Hall of Fame is an open one that will take at least a decade to tell us anything even remotely conclusive. As hard as it may be to envision the players outed as steroid users via one means or another actually getting in, I have a much harder time envisioning the Hall's relevance without guys like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez.

As for Jeter, he's a lock; this year puts him over the line as far as JAWS is concerned, and he's got the kind of resume writers will love. Damon's going to have to get somewhere on his push for 3,000 hits to have much traction; he's got just two All-Star appearances and scores well below average on the Hall of Fame Monitor and HOF Standards metrics. A-Rod will get there eventually, I think, particularly if he keeps to this new STFU PR strategy.

jromero (seattle): Hi, Jay. I am not sure what you may have written in the past regarding Pete Rose's HOF eligibility, but can you briefly share your take on a.) his worthiness as a player; and b.) your opinion as to whether he should be allowed in (assuming his stats stack up). Thanks!

JJ: Absolutely worthy as a player even if he did overstay his welcome by a few years. His JAWS (106.7/56.2/81.5) is above average at any position in all three categories.

As to whether he should be allowed, he knowingly broke the cardinal rule that's posted in every clubhouse: DO NOT GAMBLE ON BASEBALL. He denied it for years, and when he finally fessed up, it was in the service of making a buck. I haven't seen anything out of him to suggest real remorse or reparations to the game, so really, I see absolutely no compelling reason to reinstate him.

Nick Stone (New York City): Jay, assuming you think that the AL East crown is probably settled, how do you see the wild card battle playing out? Will it be just between Boston and Texas? What are the keys to watch for, outside of Wakefield's return?

JJ: Hello, Nick! At this point in the season I'm having a hard time taking the Rays seriously as Wild Card contenders given their inconsistency on both sides of the ball, so I do think it will come down to the Rangers and Red Sox. Earlier this year I'd have said it would be difficult to imagine the Sox struggling this much for this long given their roster, and that it would be even tougher to envision the Rangers maintaining their hot start given their pitch-to-contact ways. The Sox have had a lot of injuries, not only among the players they knew were health risks to begin but also to the players representing the first line of defense against them, and while I like the deadline moves they've made, particularly Victor Martinez, right now they're a mess. The Rangers have had injury problems as well, and done a very nice job augmenting their team in-season by calling up Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz, and as minor as it is, I like their acquisition of Pudge for the stretch.

I can envision this race coming down to whose young pitching holds up best under pressure -- Buccholz or Holland/Feliz. It's bigger than that, of course, but that's what I'll be watching most closely.

GregLowder (DC): Jay, I think it's impossible to use a specific number to measure HOF worthiness...3000 hits, 500 homers, 300 wins. You can pull a "Curtis Martin" and be effective for several years just due to good health and luck. I think you have to be great for a short period of time, in baseball I put that at 6-8 years, or very good for a long period of time, 12+ years. Do you agree?

JJ: Among actual voters, by which I mean the BBWAA ones, not the VC ones, career length is a much bigger factor than you give it credit for being. With a few exceptions (Rice, Sutter, Brock, Tony Perez) guys who get elected by the writers generally have had good to great peaks AND very good long careers.
• My Toledo radio hit, which discussed the Tigers' acquisition of Aubrey Huff, the Magglio Ordoñez fiasco, waiver deals in general, and the state of various division and Wild Card races.

• My Boston radio hit, which discussed the Red Sox's relatively faded postseason hopes, Jon Papelbon's woes and the perpetual problem of their catching situation, among other things. Fun stuff.

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