Last week, one of our two newer writers over at The Platoon Advantage, Mark, kind of borrowed our Getting Blanked vibe and ran a simile/metaphor post on how different baseball players were like characters in “Home Improvement.” Mark apparently has fond memories of that show, which I do not. But, I thought: why not take the opportunity to celebrate the career of the greatest cinematic actor of our time, Tim Allen?
Okay, that may have been a bit of hyperbole. Allen is almost perfectly mediocre, really, maybe less than that. But I don’t hate him (even if I hate most of his movies), and he’s played a lot of very different roles (even if he’s played them all more or less the same), and, most importantly of all, he tends to play characters with clearly defined attributes who can be painted with very, very broad brushes. Makes it easy (relatively, anyway) to come up with things that are more or less like other things. So, shall we?
Michael Young is like Tim Taylor.
Taylor, of course, “The Tool Man,” is Allen’s career-launching starring role in “Home Improvement.” He’s an eminently likable guy, to the point that he has his own TV show about home improvement without having any discernible talent for it. He’s always screwing up everywhere, in fact, and is entirely dependent on others to help him out of his messes. He screws up on the show, and there’s the unassuming but highly competent Al, his on-air sidekick; he messes up at home, and there’s the sarcastic but highly rational Jill, his wife. Audiences throughout the nineties, just like his coworkers and family members, just kept loving Tim Taylor anyway, for some reason, no matter what he might do.
To Mark, Taylor was like Jeff Francoeur, which is actually a great one, but I’m trying to keep it (with one unavoidable exception, below) to the postseason. Michael Young is, apparently, to some people and especially to the media and Rangers fans, very easy to like. He’s praised for his leadership and selflessness, even when, as far as I can tell, he’s being the very definition of selfish. And he’s had a very nice year this year, with so many pretty numbers — 40+ doubles, 100+ RBI, 200+ hits, and nearly a .340 batting average — that, along with his having played four different positions (with debatable success), it’s led a lot of Rangers fans to come to believe he should be in the running for league MVP.
Like Tim Taylor, though, Young can’t do it without a whole lot of help from the people in the background of his press photo. Despite the gaudy-looking numbers, Young’s lack of power and patience and what the metrics see as his atrocious defense put him at just 2.4 rWAR on the year, which is not only laughably far from MVP level, but is just tenth on his own team, behind not only legitimate stars like Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli, Adrian Beltre and C.J. Wilson (all at or over 5 WAR), but also Josh Hamilton (who missed 40 games), Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando, and Derek Holland.
You might quibble with some of those, but certainly not most. I assume Young has gotten or will get any team MVP awards given out by the local BBWAA, the team, etc., and he’s just not even close. He’s a confusingly popular figure who doesn’t really have a big hand in most of the stuff that actually gets done. Just like Tim Taylor.
Prince Fielder is like Jason Nesmith.
My personal favorite Tim Allen movie (non-animated division), by approximately a parsec, is Galaxy Quest, the 1999 send-up of Star Trek and its culture starring Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman (and stolen by Tony Shalhoub). It’s dumb, but it’s great fun and has a lot of legitimately very, very funny moments. Allen’s character, Jason Nesmith, is of course the William Shatner clone, and plays Commander Peter Quincy Taggart in the show-within-the-movie.
We join the cast as they’re making the rounds of the convention circuit, years removed from the show’s brief heyday, and everyone else involved despises Nesmith, and for good reason. He’s hopelessly self-centered and always stepping on everyone else’s toes. But then comes the real movie: aliens abduct the cast, thinking the episodes of their show are real, and enlist them to pilot a working replica of the show’s spaceship that the aliens have built. I don’t think it’s spoiling anything you can’t already tell just by reading the synopsis to tell you that ultimately, Nesmith steps into the leader’s role his character embodied and saves the day, along the way learning a thing or two about teamwork and kindness, and so on and so forth. It’s a bad movie, but it’s great.
Prince Fielder has had kind of a rough couple years, publicity-wise. I wouldn’t presume to know how his teammates or any other players really feel about him, but he certainly doesn’t shy away from controversy, and the media paints a picture of a guy who makes a bit of an art out of pissing people off. He’s also not the kind of fan favorite in Milwaukee that a pudgy guy who hits really long home runs could usually expect to be, but for good reason — for the last two years at least, everyone has simply assumed he’ll be gone from the team this winter.
But now here he is, with the first Brewers team to win a postseason series in nearly thirty years, and he’s leading the way, with a .981 OPS in the NLDS, a rocket home run in game one of the NLCS, and another homer and a double in the Brewers’ big loss in game two. Who knows: maybe he’ll lead the Brewers all the way through the Series, become that fan favorite he’s never really been, and sign the big
mistake deal that keeps him in the city for life. And maybe along the way he’ll learn a thing or two about teamwork and kindness and all that crap.
Yuniesky Betancourt is like Scott Calvin.
You couldn’t pay me enough to see The Santa Clause 2 or 3 (note: you probably can, actually, and I encourage you to try), but I was a fifteen year old with two little sisters in 1994, and I remember The Santa Clause pretty well. Scott Calvin is a putz, a divorced father with a generally depressing attitude toward things who then tops it all off by somehow managing to kill Santa Claus. But then — in the most incomprehensible setup in movie history — because he killed Santa Claus, he becomes Santa Claus, and is magic and gets to get fat and eat all the cookies he wants and boss around elves and reindeer and stuff.
Which is about as abrupt a transition as Betancourt has experienced. One minute he’s Yuniesky Betancourt, the worst shortstop in the major leagues, he of the .272 2011 OBP and highly questionable fielding skills, and the next minute he’s Yuniesky Betancourt, playoff hero, who is currently hitting .346/.370/.615 in his first seven career postseason games. Now, it’s unlikely that he killed Troy Tulowitzki last week and thus has become Troy Tulowitzki — it’s much more likely that he just had a lucky few games, and I think we would have heard something by now about Tulo’s untimely demise — but either way, for at least a few games, Yuni has gone from some dumb schmuck to Santa freakin’ Claus.
Logan Morrison is like Luther Krank.
One non-postseason item, as promised. By almost literally all reports, Christmas with the Kranks is one of the very worst films ever made, a Christmas comedy that isn’t comic or even very Christmasy. And what brings it down, according to the critics (I’ll never see it, of course), is this terrible misguided message.
Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis decide to do something a little different this year — skip Christmas and head out of town on their own little getaway — and rather than celebrating that little bit of pseudo-individualism, the movie sees the Kranks’ evil, single-mindedly conformist, not-remotely-human neighbors drag them back and force them to celebrate the holiday in the same way everybody else does, conveying the hilarious and light-hearted message that it’s better to be like everyone else than be happy.
So I couldn’t find a good postseason comp to that, but I wanted to use it, and it sounds quite a bit like what the Marlins did earlier this year to Logan Morrison. An unusually smart and funny ballplayer who’s developing a hilarious (if sometimes a little over-the-top) persona on Twitter and elsewhere, Morrison was apparently repeatedly warned by the Marlins to tone down his comments, and was even sent down mid-season in what a lot of people seemed to assume was more of a punishment than a baseball move.
It’s not that the Marlins didn’t have any reason to be concerned about what their employee was doing (which alone makes them different from the neighbors in Kranks). But the basic idea is pretty similar: Morrison is refreshingly different, and the Marlins set out to destroy that for, mostly, bad reasons or no reasons at all.
Ryan Theriot is like Buzz Lightyear.
Remember Toy Story, the original one, where the Allen-voiced Buzz comes out of his packaging and thinks he’s the real Buzz Lightyear, with a working laser and the ability to fly and all that?
I’ll never get tired of this:
The Cardinals led the division until July 27, four days before the Furcal acquisition. Speaking only about his own role, Theriot noted, “When I was playing shortstop we were in first place. I know that. It is what it is.”
It was patently ridiculous when he said it back in mid-September, of course, and looks worse now that the Cardinals, with Furcal playing well, charged back to take the Wildcard and are in the NLCS.
Someone really needs to convince Theriot he’s just a little toy.