March 7, 2017
Opening One's Heart, Calculating Existence Odds, and a Correction
Ty Kelly Cannot Advise You on the Subject of Rivers
In the first game of the World Baseball Classic on Monday, Ty Kelly went 0-for-4, as Ty Kelly not infrequently does. (As he has done, to be specific, 121 times in his collective major- and minor-league careers.) A cursory glance at his game logs shows that most of these 0-for-4 outings happened in relatively small ballparks with smaller crowds, many after what must have been long bus rides, as you would expect from someone who spent eight years in the minors before finally getting his first chance in the big leagues last year. These 0-for-4 outings have probably not done very much to embarrass him, however, as he has a YouTube page full of the original songs that he writes for the acoustic guitar.
There are not too many things that are more awkward to discover on someone’s social media profile than original songs that they write for the acoustic guitar and then repeatedly record and upload to a handful of viewers on YouTube. There is no fun to be had in snarking on these or poking fun at them; they’re not like an old photo in an embarrassing outfit or a weird childish exchange with an erstwhile friend. They’re not so common or so casual or so universal as that—they are openly, deliberately vulnerable and earnest in a way that is so naked as to be, frankly, uncomfortable.
Such as this, for instance, uploaded in his sixth year in the minor leagues, recorded in what looks to be a modest apartment that is different both from the modest apartment he’d recorded in a month before and the other modest apartment he’d record from a year later:
“There is no way to tell
Which way the river flows,
I cannot tell you what your future may hold.”
Very earnest! Like, very nearly heartbreakingly so! The video has two comments and fewer than 1,500 views. There is maybe, then, somewhat of a reasonable instinct to cringe a little with a secondhand embarrassment at the fact that Ty Kelly’s original songs seem very much to be the musical manifestation of Ty Kelly’s baseball career. But that type of embarrassment overlooks the fact that you don’t have to come out and call Kelly out on that if he’s been earnest enough to get out in front and say it for you, and really, then, who cares so much?
Besides, to what standard are you, the person who cannot reliably play a B-chord, holding Ty Kelly? What baseline do we hold to him, in terms of clicks? How much aquatic wisdom do we demand, and why?
[EDITOR’S NOTE: On Tuesday night, Kelly went 3-5 with a double and a run scored. How this experience has changed him, from a songwriting standpoint, was unclear at time of publication.)
Being and Oaklandness
Hello, I’m the internet’s Jason Wojciechowski. As you may not remember, I follow the Oakland Athletics closely. I even have a blog. I also have, on the other hand, no personal, professional, or financial investment in the team's success. This combination of interest and disinterest makes me, by these figures, the world's foremost expert on the existence of the A's and their constituent parts. What follows, then, is a list of A's position players, in order of the likelihood that they do in fact exist, high to low, along with a brief explanation of just how it is they came into existence.
Notes and Corrections, Vol. 1
On behalf of the Short Relief collective, their families and investment consultants, I would like to apologize. Yesterday, as you may remember, the site concluded with the following animated GIF:
Words were written following this full motion video, but those words were an abject failure. Because while they may have been figuratively accurate, they failed to make note of, much less illustrate, the pure humanity in that fleeting moment of Kurt Suzuki.
Wearing both the physical and metaphorical masks of the baseball player, Suzuki’s soul is obscured from us. But his exaggerated, pantomimed presentation can’t be dismissed as random. There is no such thing as neutrality in life: all actions are statements. What, then, is he trying to say? Is he commenting on the quality of Pat Light’s pitch, as the latter’s guarded smile appears to reflect? Is it self-satire, a nod toward Suzuki’s own consistently negative FRAA?
Or perhaps there’s something more basic, more primal in that sweep of the hand. Something locked deep within the human spirit, the drive that rationalizes using the company printer for personal documents and rolling through stop signs, the force that makes children switch seats when there’s a substitute teacher, or ask for dessert even when they haven’t touched any of their carrots, haven’t even made the pretense of spreading them around to make it look like there’s less there.
Even in a situation where a strike does absolutely nothing to improve his team’s chances of winning, Suzuki can’t help but try. He has to take, just in case he is given. He’s the everyman, but not the everyman we want to pretend the rest of the world to be, not that anonymous middle reliever with the graceless eephus. Suzuki’s the one embodying rationality in economics, the collective action problem made flesh, the unchecked id. Kurt Suzuki is you.
Once again, for failing to make this truth evident to you, the reader, we humbly apologize.
Emma Baccellieri is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @EmmaBaccellieri