August 29, 2014
Roast A Parks
Sam Miller: So with Jason Parks gone, we thought it was appropriate that the staff assess his tenure here and make sure that his future employers know what they're getting: A guy who will write the occasional scouting report in the voice of Bud Cort's character in Electric Dreams; a guy who will push to sign every cast member from the Venezuelan remake of The Outsiders based solely on the way they wrap cigarette boxes in their t-shirt sleeves; and so on.
So, everybody: Now's the time to pile on. Consider this something like a roast. Profanity follows.
Joe Hamrahi: Everything is fair game here folks!
Ben Lindbergh: #[redacted]
Joe: Well that may not be fair game actually!
Sam: The hell is #[redacted]?
Ben Carsley: #Core4
Joe: Haha…that's an offline discussion
Dan Brooks: SORRY BEN. From chat on 1/10/2014:
Ben Lindbergh: I hope the Cubs follow the same policy with Jason's scouting reports.
Sam: First thing, literally the first thing, that Ben had me read as an editor at the site was Dinner With Darvish. I thought it was some sort of a test. All I could come up with in response was:
Sooooo. I mean, there's obviously one and only one thing to mention about the piece, which is that Arizona doesn't have daylight savings time so there would be no sun shining on Darvish at precisely 7 p.m. in March.
Chris Rodriguez: I admit I was nervous as hell meeting Parks for the first time; I read almost everything he ever wrote for BP before coming onto the prospect team. I mentally prepared myself for a guy who was half John McClaine, half William S. Burroughs, and as completely in love with baseball as I was. I wasn't necessarily wrong with my pre-assessment, but I found that Jason was one of the nicest guys I've ever met. He offered to pay for every meal and gas money and even gave me a bed to crash on for spring training. He's also probably the smartest person I've ever talked to, with crazy knowledge of history, Mexico City art, and of course, Soccer #Gerndt. He's a Renaissance man if I've ever met one, and I'll never forget conversations at the BP House during spring training about who would come out on top: Usain Bolt would totally light up Primetime for 140 and two TD's. Stories of the #Moon, #Prellersboy, #[redaced] will stay between us.
Jason Wojciechowski: Not to turn this into a roast of Chris, but Chris, have you ever seen a roast.
Ben Carsley: Here is a picture of Parks' butt and Theo's sidebutt that I took in Arizona. Parks was the only person in Arizona with his collar ironically popped.
Jeff Quinton: He often told people he was a Texan. He did so with the fervor of a man needing to prove a fact to himself.
He diluted distilled alcohol with carbonated beverages in order to consume them.
Russell Carleton: Things I learned from Jason Parks:
1) You can write an entire article using #nothing #but #somewhat #homoerotic #hashtags
4) A whole bunch about prospects and development
5) Let's just say that my wife enjoys the fact that I can do #5 now.
Chris King: When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: "Have ya paid your dues, Jack?" "Yessir, the check is in the mail."
Chris Mellen: Since I started working at BP, a lot of people ask me what Jason Parks is really like. See, Jason Parks has kind of become something of a cult figure. His Twitter followers tweet him pictures of 70s and 80s male sex symbols, while a typical chat features at least a couple of questions about what he is drinking and whether he still makes the mistake of wearing mesh shorts when watching Javier Baez in public. So, after answering the usual standards like whether Jason Parks actually does carry a picture of Tom Verducci in his wallet (he doesn't), does he really like Road House more than Point Break (unfortunately yes), and what ever happened to the restraining order with Jorge Alfaro (it expired last spring), the question finally turns to "What is Jason Parks really like?"
1. Jason Parks isn't afraid to go out on a limb. Whether it was when, very early in this year's Top 101 process, he announced to the Prospect Team that "I'm going with a sleeper named Byron Buxton as the no. 1 overall prospect" or when he wrote in Joey Gallo's Top 10 report "huge swing-and-miss in his game,” Jason Parks is always ahead of the curve and a trailblazer.
2. Jason Parks is all about the “process." A typical Top 10 discussion starts with 12-15 prospects in the system that he absolutely "loves." After a great deal of back and forth between the team, we cut it down to 10 definite prospects for publishing. Without fail, sometime about a day or so before publishing we get an email stating that a contact just blew up a 16-year-old Dominican prospect and we have to include him in the list. Sometimes, the organization doesn't even have one, but he suggests anyway.
3. Jason Parks is really a fan of your favorite prospect.
Dan Rozenson: He’s an annoying, crusty old man. Won't miss him, especially.
Oh, shit—this isn't the Selig thread?
Matt Sussman: I don't think I've ever met or communicated with Jason Parks. He seems nice. But while some didn't like his early work, I think his craft continued to get stronger with each effort, and I especially loved him in American Wedding.
Craig Goldstein: Jason Parks taught me about #wet, #want, and #sparkle. He taught me about Adalberto Mondesi's magic, what it was to correspond with a figment of one's own imagination, and how to verbally abuse Jason Cole during FIFA. He brought over-sexualization of prospects to the fore (of which he's proud, no doubt) and now he's leaving us to deal with the unsavory aftereffects. He taught me about Black Eagles, front-fingers, and other things one can't just unlearn.
He also taught me about being wrong. His "What Did I Miss" series was a personal favorite, and in that vein I offer up one final opportunity for self-reflection:
thebeej21 (Houston): Barring injuries, who has the better career, Trout or Hosmer?
Sam: I particularly liked this article:
"Let’s keep some perspective here: Altuve isn’t going to be a first-division starter."
Zachary Levine: Casey "The Old Perfessor" Stengel earned his moniker by virtue of a 25-year managerial career that featured 7 World Series titles, 10 American League pennants and 1,905 regular season victories. Jason "Professor Parks" Parks had two podcasts that he recorded when it fit nicely into his schedule.
He will be missed.
Jeff Moore: At the intersection of Clark and Addison now resides the intersection of sex and baseball.
Russell: WAIT A MINUTE...
Jason will be working with Tom Tango.
Brain just melted.
Sam: His departure is obviously bad news for us, and maybe it'll turn out to be bad news for the Cubs, but it's great news for Kevin Goldstein. Over the past two years, any time Parks has quoted a scout, an exec, an insider, an observer, every person who read it translated that mentally to "Goldstein." Poor KG has been "credited" with more stuff he didn't say than Mark Twain.
Ken Funck: "Poor KG has been 'credited' with more stuff he didn't say than Mark Twain.” —Oscar Wilde
Jason once told me that Lance Henriksen portrayed Deke Slayton in The Right Stuff. Of course, as any child knows, Henriksen played Wally Schirra. Jason might have been distracted when he said this, as he was concurrently emptying a jug of sangria and buttonholing anyone that betrayed even a shred of interest in viewing his NSFW Martin Kove photo, but there’s absolutely no excuse for misremembering which C-list actor played which Mercury astronaut. I still shudder at the memory, and as a Cubs fan, I’m shocked and saddened that my team doesn’t hold new hires to a more rigorous intellectual standard.
Tucker Blair: Here's the worst thing about Jason. My non-baseball friends are constantly wondering who the lunatic professor is that I am always retweeting on Twitter. His sexual love for prospects begins to have a sadistic effect on the human mind, and really does help to break our hearts. Thanks to the Mr. Texan, I will never be able to look at a baseball swing or delivery the same. My first time meeting him resulted in an immediate discussion on the sexual appeal of Noah Syndergaard and Lucas Giolito's arsenal. After that, I knew that it could only get worse. I'm going to miss the guy, but there are a multitude of reasons why Parks is banned from discussion at the family dinner table:
Sahadev Sharma: I first heard of Jason Parks when listening to Up and In Podcast. Instantly, a strong distaste for every word he uttered grew from deep within me. When Kevin Goldstein left Baseball Prospectus for a job with the Houston Astros, I was unsurprised that Parks would team with my arch-nemesis, Mark Ferrin, to start a new, terrible podcast. Why would I religiously listen to a podcast that enraged me so, you ask? To gather information and gain intimate knowledge of my adversaries. I slowly plotted and schemed, dreaming of the day when I would one day take down this notorious 'Professor' Parks. Weeks, months and eventually years passed before I finally found my opportunity. When Sam Miller and Joe Hamrahi contacted me about a position with BP, I had but one demand, send Jason Parks on his way and I will join your merry band of lunatics. They obviously agreed to rid themselves of such a nuisance, but little did I know that Parks had the ultimate revenge in mind. He would join the team I grew up rooting for and take them down from the inside. Touché, Professor, touché. I look forward to the day that I can sic #CubsTwitter on you, as they incessantly complain when every hyped prospect doesn't immediately perform at an MVP level when called to the big leagues. That is when I will gleefully shout from the hilltops, "Check and mate.”
Bret Sayre: Like most everyone else, I too was introduced to Parks via the fantastic Up and In podcast (RIP) and I imagined him to be more of a regular Brooklyn guy playing up a public persona. That's what we're used to seeing these days—most people are exaggerated versions of themselves on the internet. When I finally met him a few years back, I could not believe how wrong I was. He's essentially Wooderson with his Texas pride and homoeroticism cranked up to 11. In fact, when I wonder what Jason is up to once he gets rolling in this new job, I'll take comfort in knowing that he's likely standing outside a pool hall, supermarket or AA meeting muttering "That's what I love about these 16-year-old Dominicans, man. I get older, they stay the same age." Probably just to himself.
If I could steal one thing about Parks for myself, it's not his scouting chops or his storytelling ability—though those are the two things of his which will be missed most publicly and privately. It's not his ability to find the perfect pictures of the most masculine stars of the 70s and 80s. It's certainly not his knee ligaments. The thing I'd steal is the 80-grade way that he delivers the word “fuck." Parks says the word like it was created specifically for him, and sometimes I think it actually was.
Mike Ferrin: So, Jason and I were in Wilmington for a game. And Chelsor Cuthbert comes up to the plate, filled with swagger & confidence. He cut a significant presence in the batter’s box.
Jason turns to me, and goes, "See that...that guy is gonna be a big leaguer. Look at him. That guy's got #rig.”
First time I'd heard him use that. Within moments, he started complaining about the opposing starter. The guy was nibbling, tentative. I asked him what he thought it was?
He just looked at me and said "Small #Rig.”
We really should have called him Doctor Parks based on his anatomical diagnoses.
Dave Pease: I’ve always enjoyed Jason's unique voice and we will greatly miss him, but now I don't have to worry about being thrown in jail or extradited for being his publisher when he writes or does something outrageous.
Baseball Prospectus and our readers are realizing a great loss here. But I think personally I'm coming out about even.
Sahadev: I did want to share some genuine thoughts about him. The thing that struck me when I first heard Jason talk about baseball, talent evaluation, music, literature and, well, anything really, was his confidence. It genuinely impressed me how he carried himself.
As I grew more familiar with his work, I quickly realized that that confidence was well earned, that this was a man with an eye for talent. When KG left, Parks had big shoes to fill and, observing from the outside, I was impressed at how he didn't try and keep the status quo. Jason decided to surround himself with others whom he respected, not yes men, but people who were willing to challenge him and had a similar confidence. It was then that I realized not only does Jason have an eye for talent on the field, but he could identify others who could scout as well. These skills are why I'm sure Jason will thrive in his new endeavor. It's also why I'm sure BP will continue to thrive as well.
Jason, like any good leader, helped build a strong organization around him, one that would not only survive after his departure, but excel. While selfishly, I'm sad that Jason will no longer officially be with us, I'm happy for him and excited to see how he attacks his new challenge. But I'm also excited to see what the rest of us have in store at BP. I'm confident it will continue to be something special.
Jeff Euston: Jason’s 2011 review of the taqueria El Califa has to be one of the most fun things I've read at BP or anywhere else. The joy that infused his analysis of jugo de carne also comes across as he evaluates players, and it's contagious.
Craig: "The quesadilla is really just an open-faced cheese taco minus the second-layer of protein in between the corn tortilla and the beautiful temptress that is the semi-melted Oaxacan cheese."
Yes but is it a sandwich.