December 29, 2016
Best of BP 2016
We Are Tuffy Gosewisch
With the year winding to a close, Baseball Prospectus is revisiting some of our favorite articles of the year. This was originally published on November 22, 2016.
The Diamondbacks shocked the world in April by demoting their 2015 Opening Day catcher, 32-year-old James Benjamin Gosewisch, to Triple-A Reno. He proved that he didn’t belong there, slashing .342/.399/.553 in the desert air, or somewhat above average for the league. He returned to the big league club in July after the team began its front-office-murdering swoon, and quickly proved he didn’t belong in the majors, either, hitting .156/.224/.289.
Now, he’ll hope to serve that same role, to somewhat greater effect, in a new capacity, having been claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Braves. There, if tendered, he’ll back up Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker, although the Braves are still rumored to be in pursuit of hot commodity Jason Castro.
So that’s your Transaction Analysis. But what does it mean? Who, or what, is a Tuffy Gosewisch? To answer that question, I headed to Wikipedia, which contains this passage under the heading "Personal Life":
Gosewisch’s father gave him the nickname “Tuffy” because he was an especially destructive baby. “I used to break my crib and fall out and just keep on going and it wouldn’t faze me,” recalls Gosewisch.
The passage above links to an article entitled “Five Minutes with Tuffy Gosewisch.” Said article is archived behind a paywall, so the other four minutes and 40 seconds will remain a mystery. That the entirety of Gosewisch’s personal life is summed up in two sentences born out of the first three percent of his existence would seem to be an indictment on something or someone.
The rest of Google proved equally unhelpful. We know that Gosewisch has a wife and child. He’s a confessed crossfit fanatic. He hates the Oasis Motor Inn in Oleanta, New York. He lined out against outfielder Casper Wells and struck out against John McDonald in the same game. He went seven years between his first and second player comments in the BP Annual. His walkup music is "Beautiful Disaster" by 311.
Despite these important facts, we’re still missing something; so I consulted Gosewisch’s Twitter account, that always-reliable portal between common man and professional athlete. Since his call-up he tweeted exactly 17 times. Here is a breakdown of the subjects of those tweets:
Clearly, questions remain. We’re talking about a human being, not a name on a roster. We still need to unlock the true humanity of our hero. So I made the most scientific investigation possible: I created an anonymous Twitter poll and posted it at midnight ET on a Friday night. The lone question: what do you think of when you think of Tuffy Gosewisch? Here, organized into haphazard buckets, is a summary of the answers:
Some of these results require further breakdown. Let’s take them one at a time:
The only thing surprising about this is the poor showing of Guffy Tosewisch. I thought I knew Twitter.
People are naturally positive, even on the internet; they want to see the best in everything, even below-replacement catchers. The specific acts remembered by the three people at the bottom: “Stopped a lot of wild pitches against the Giants one time,” “Seeing his first home run in person! (exclamation point theirs),” and “That one time he dove for a foul pop-up.”
Honestly most of these don’t make a ton of sense. Geese I get, but ducks? Rabbits? The human mind is a mysterious thing. You could seriously connect anything to anything by reading a stray sentence. For example, I’ve heard that Derek Norris is a big fan of the film "Boxing Helena." Ten years from now you’ll see Derek Norris’ name on a leaderboard somewhere and think about misguided romantic thrillers using amputation as a plot device, and you’ll wonder why. Hopefully you forget why.
We’re getting closer, here. There something along the edges of a truth, that Tuffy Gosewisch isn’t just one of things, but all of them, a name and a catcher and a three-toed sloth and a line judge in a 1983 Arkansas-Alabama game all at the same time. The question never was what is a Tuffy Gosewisch. The question is: what isn’t?
Some final thoughts, culled from the longer responses:
I just bet that Tuffy would help you move no matter how many times you asked him to. Like you could hit him up to help haul your crappy furniture up and down three flights of stairs twice a year and he'd do it if you promised to buy him a cheeseburger (no pickles). Wouldn't say a peep except to say that your new place looks homey.
I think of a rookie making his major league debut -- the moment he's been dreaming of his entire life -- walking up to the plate for his first career plate appearance, greeting the home plate umpire and hoping to share a few words with a great catcher like Buster Posey or Yadier Molina, only to realize Tuffy Gosewisch is behind the plate and quit baseball in disappointment.
It is a warm summer night in Tacoma. One kid is content with a hot dog and the promise of cotton candy later; the other needs something more than minor league baseball can provide, and is commando-crawling between rows of seats, collecting popcorn hulls and long-forgotten gum on her shirt. Now batting for the 51s/Aces/Beavers/Dodgers/Whoever, Tuffy Gosewisch. Or Konrad Schmidt. Same deal, same generic pseudo-memory:
Baseball is nothing but ants dancing for my enjoyment
There it is. We are Tuffy Gosewisch. We have been claimed off waivers by the Braves. We are dancing for each other.