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August 19, 2011

Divide and Conquer, AL East

The Simileast

by Dustin Parkes

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Humblebrag alert: you don’t really make a lot of money writing about baseball for a living.

I earn my livelihood as the editor of a baseball blog on the website of a national sports network in Toronto, Canada. And while my earnings will never win me a date with the type of woman whose level of desire for a man parallels the amount of money in his bank account, it does occasionally have its perks.

In addition to providing me with an excuse to check baseball scores whenever I want, dinner party be damned, full-time employment as a baseball writer also allows me to work with and meet interesting people who share a similar passion for a game that’s played with a ball, bat, and glove. Two of my duties for Getting Blanked, the aforementioned baseball blog, include finding freelance writers to provide content and making it look to my bosses as though my articles are attracting more online attention than they really are.

I’ve had the pleasure of locking up Baseball Prospectus’ own Sam Miller to a contract so exploitative my bosses thought we’d have to wait until mid-June before he could start writing for us, while we would constantly have to suggest to the media that service time wasn’t an issue. I also have had the privilege of being the first to read the work of other baseball aficionados in Canada like Drew Fairservice, Travis Reitsma, and Andrew Stoeten. It’s rewarding to know that you’re on the same page as other people whose work you respect, and I get to earn that reward almost every day.

One of the somewhat underappreciated aspects of the blog is the weekend content that’s provided by the knowledgeable duo at The Platoon Advantage: Bill Parker and The Common Man. When I first approached them about contributing, it took only four or five brainstorming emails to come up with a premise for their writing: Simile Saturday and Sunday.

On both days of the weekend, Parker and TCM compare a hot-topic item from the world of baseball with something from pop culture, history, or their own imaginations, using nothing but similes. In a way that reminds me of The Five Obstructions, the two writers fashion their work within that framework and make it even better than if they were given free rein to write about anything that they please.

It’s so good, in fact, that I’m going to blatantly rip them off in this column and present to you the American League Simileast.

The American League East is like all of the different tablets currently available.

The Boston Red Sox are like the Apple iPad.
The Red Sox are the standard bearers in baseball franchises right now. They’re what everyone wants to become or wants to emulate, and for good reason. The team has the market to acquire the players that it desires, but it remains selective in its approach, only acquiring those that can find success through its way of doing things. And when such an acquisition isn’t available, the organization will develop what it needs by itself.

Now, even I’ve forgotten if I’m writing about the iPad or the Red Sox.

Somehow, in acting as the one that sets the mark for other organizations, it remains innovative and clever, with a business-first mentality. Unlike other successful organizations, Boston rarely invests heavily in players past their prime. They’re not suckered in by nice fluffy thoughts like loyalty or tradition; when a player is past his prime, he’s past his expiration date on the team’s roster as well.

Completely untrue fact: if you and your friend both have a member of the Boston Red Sox, you can communicate with each other using “Face Time” and see the person that you’re talking to in real time. Also, Angry Birds is a popular member of the Red Sox.

The New York Yankees are like the BlackBerry PlayBook.
The Yankees are the former standard bearers in baseball franchises who continue to find success, almost despite their outdated tools and methods. Similarly, the BlackBerry once dominated the smartphone market, and even though Apple makes cooler, better, more advanced products, the initial powerhouse in the industry continues to interest consumers.

While occasionally appearing to embrace innovation, New York is far too invested in the success of the past. Yankees haters all wait with bated breath for the bottom to fall out on this strategy, but year after year the team continues to find success despite the cobwebs of past glories getting in its line of vision.

Completely untrue fact: President Obama had to demand that the Secret Service allow him to keep his New York Yankee despite the inherent security risk.

The Tampa Bay Rays are like the T-Mobile G-Slate
It’s easy to fall in love with a brand name because of the defined identity it provides for consumers. Want to be young, cool, hip, and listen to The Asteroids Galaxy Tour? Buy an iPad. Do you prefer free form jazz and have sausage fingers? Buy a BlackBerry. The T-Mobile G-Slate may be better than both tablets, but it provides a better service without the brand name benefit of its main competition.

Such is life for the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East, not just competing, but actually performing better in recent years than its two main counterparts who enjoy every benefit that they do not. What’s the secret to their success? Doing a little bit better than their competition in all of their dealings with them.

Similarly, the G-Slate may not have all the bells and whistles of design, but it’s made for ease of use and for the benefit of its users overall, not just for their eyes.

Completely untrue fact: a Tampa Bay Ray comes with 3D glasses for video playback, but most users find them kind of clunky.

The Toronto Blue Jays are like whatever comes out of the Google and Motorola merger.
There’s a ton of hope in Toronto after the organization hired general manager Alex Anthopoulos and he proceeded to correct the course of a team that looked to be sailing dangerously close to the Bermuda Triangle of the American League East. Try imagining a team with the intelligence of Tampa Bay’s management combined with the financial wherewithal of the Boston Red Sox, and you begin to get an understanding of the Toronto Blue Jays’ capabilities.

After acquiring Motorola, industry experts believe it’s only a matter of time until Google’s first foray into computer hardware. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if the initial product is a tablet. The new relationship between Google and Motorola creates the potential for an industry leader, but at this point that’s all it is: potential.

Completely untrue fact: the Toronto Blue Jays don’t exist yet, but you can probably get a good idea of what they’ll be like by checking out a Samsung Chromebook.

The Baltimore Orioles are like the HP TouchPad.
Earlier this week, Hewlett-Packard announced that it would discontinue operations for the TouchPad, claiming that it just didn’t gather enough traction in the marketplace.

If you’re still struggling to see the parallels between this tablet and the Baltimore Orioles, consider this: hiring Russell Brand to be the star of your commercials is like signing the rotting corpse of Vladimir Guerrero to be your designated hitter.

Completely untrue fact: the only way the Baltimore Orioles will find any success is if they license their operating system to one of the manufacturers that were left in the cold by the Google and Motorola partnership.

Related Content:  Blog,  The Who,  Writing,  Fact-checking

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<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Deceptiv... (08/19)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Divide and Conquer, AL... (08/04)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Divide and Conquer, AL... (08/26)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Collateral Damage: Pai... (08/19)

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