And our tour of random culty-type things I love continues. I’m starting to run out of them, honestly, but this one definitely works, so we’re okay for at least one more week.
Flight of the Conchords is both a band — self-billed as New Zealand’s fourth most popular folk-parody duo — and the title of a short-lived HBO series based on a fictionalized version of said band. With this post, I expect to draw from both; their brilliant lyrics are generally too idiosyncratic to blend in with something like this, but that’s why they pay me the big bucks.
Jose Reyes is “The Most Beautiful Girl [in the Room].“
One of FotC’s most popular songs and the first one you’ll see in episode 1.1 of the series (click above for the video), “The Most Beautiful Girl [in the Room]” finds the lads at a party, where one of them catches the eye of a particularly attractive — but not, like, omigod attractive — girl and proceeds to seduce her in a refreshingly honest and realistic way, noting that she’s the most beautiful girl in the…room. Some more of his choicest lines:
“And when you’re on the street, depending on the street, I bet you’re definitely in the top three good looking girls on the street (depending on the street).”
“You’re so beautiful, you could be a part-time model (but you’d probably have to keep your normal job).”
“Now I can’t believe that I’m sharing a kebab with the most beautiful girl I have ever seen…with a kabab.”
And so on. At its core, it’s…well, it’s ridiculous. But it’s also about realism and honesty, and how sometimes you can’t have the best in the world, and have to be happy with the best of what’s there.
Which is pretty much what the Marlins just did. Jose Reyes is a very good player, and the price the Marlins paid for him ($108 million over the next six years) seems maybe a touch high, but reasonable. But he plays the same position that one of the Marlins’ most talented current players — and their heretofore highest-paid one — has historically played, and there’s not a real obvious solution here. Moving Hanley to any other position carries the risk that he won’t adapt well to it and, in many cases, stunts the growth of a prospect or kicks up another player that needs to be moved somewhere else. Trading him now might seem like the best option, but he’s coming off an 0.5 WAR season (after averaging 6.2 since 2006, and he’s still just 28), which means you might be getting rid of him at the low point of his value. Reyes certainly makes the team better, but he’s far from an ideal addition.
What it really seems like is that the Marlins wanted more than anything to do something (thankfully, Heath Bell wasn’t that something), and they realized that Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder weren’t walking through that door. (They’re still rumored to be in on at least Pujols, too, so this could all change yet again in a day or two.) Reyes wasn’t either of those guys, but he’s pretty damn good, and he’s available. He was the most beautiful girl in the Marlins’ room.
Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson are Bret and Jemaine.
The two guys you see above are Bret McKenzie (who wrote much of the music for The Muppets, so he’s kind of here two weeks in a row) and Jemaine Clement. Except in reverse order, if you’re looking left to right. They make up the entirety of the FotC band and almost all of the FotC televeision show. Musically, the complement each other very well — similar styles, but Bret has a much higher voice (usually), while Jemaine can sing the low parts and occasionally (much more frequently than anyone else ever) will drop into his super-low, dude-with-the-cane-from-Boyz-II-Men style speaking voice.
But in the show (and I think this is a part of why the show failed, though its general inaccessibility to most of HBO’s audience would be the biggest part), they don’t complement so much as mimic each other. The big joke for both of them is that they’re awkward and other-worldly lame without having any idea of the extent of it. There are differences between the two — Bret is a bit less socially awkward, but also more prone to making huge, disastrous mistakes — but at the end of the day, they’re more or less the same person. It’s a really funny character, but it’s still just two slightly different parts of one character, and as they take up pretty much the whole of the show, that can get to be a problem.
Angels fans have to be pretty happy that Jeff Mathis got traded last week. Mathis is a bad player, and certainly had no business getting over 1000 plate appearances over the last four years. However, Bobby Wilson is still around. Wilson has hit .206/.268/.334 in 246 pro PA (compare to Mathis’ .194/.257/.301) and hit .284/.339/.424 in the minors (Mathis: .277/.340/.445). Wilson is eight days younger than Mathis. I can see two differences between the two: (a) Wilson hasn’t gotten the opportunity to conclusively fail in the bigs yet; but (b) Mathis was once something of a top prospect, and Wilson has never been close. Otherwise, they’re more or less clones of each other, like the Bret and Jemaine characters on FotC.
And the thing about Mathis is that he might be a perfectly serviceable backup (it all depends on his defense, and at this point, I’d put more stock in what his former-catcher manager says about that than what the metrics we have say). The problem is not Mathis himself, but that he was indefensibly miscast as even a part-time starting catcher. Which is a problem for the Angels, because…
Mike Scioscia is Murray Hewitt.
On the show, actor/comedian Rhys Darby played Murray Hewitt, the duo’s inept manager. He makes his money by working ineffectually to increase American interest in New Zealand tourism, and spends most of his time holding needlessly formal band meetings and working ineffectually to promote Flight of the Conchords. Murray does have his moments, a shot here and there to make it big (or at least not-miserable). Murray has one glaring weakness, though: for whatever reason, he’s permanently, indelibly, illogically attached to Bret and Jemaine. And as it’s the whole point of the show that Bret and Jemaine themselves aren’t going anywhere, this attachment seems destined to be Murray’s undoing, too.
So the Angels made what looks like a pretty savvy trade in picking up the underappreciated, underutilized Chris Iannetta from Colorado. Mathis’ departure means that Iannetta is presumably the starter, with Wilson and Hank Conger (who has put up similar numbers to Wilson, but with a better minors OBP, and is five years younger) fighting it out for the backup role.
The problem is, Iannetta’s type is about the closest comp you could possibly find to Mike Napoli’s, and Wilson, as we’ve just discussed, pretty perfectly matches up with Mathis. So even with Mathis gone, there’s a very good chance that Scioscia’s passion for no-hit, presumably-good-glove-or-arm catchers gets between him and success yet again, and gives Wilson (or, slightly preferably, Conger) playing time at Iannetta’s expense.
It’s actually kind of amazing to me that Jerry DiPoto went out and got Iannetta, of all people: it’s almost like he’s looking Scioscia square in the eye and saying “do it again, I dare you.” And he’s still got one of his Bret-and-Jemaines around, so it seems to me that odds are pretty good he will.
The Veterans’ Committee is the song ”Ladies of the World.”
The sort of vaguely seventies style, light-disco tune “Ladies of the World” (click the link above, again, for the version that appeared in the show) has as its many-times-repeated refrain: “just wanna do somethin’ special for all the ladies in the world.” Most of the rest of the song is literally just a list of every kind of “lady” they can think of that fit their syllabic requirements and end in “ian”: “Carribean,” “Parisian,” “Bolivian,” “Namibian,” “Eastern Indocinian,” “Republic of Dominican,” “Amphibian,” “Presbyterian.” Then they switch to -ite, for reasons that become obvious: “Outta sight (amazin’ ladies), late night (hard-workin’ ladies), erudite (brainy ladies), hemaphrodite (lady-man-ladies).” Then, naturally, they end the song with an appeal for peace, for appreciating ladies instead of various war-type activities.
You kind of have to hear it. The whole point of the song is to be utterly daft and infantile while pretending/attempting to do something profound and romantic, a parody of, well, a good portion of the last thirty or forty years in popular music. By doing something special for all the ladies in the world, of course, you’re not actually doing anything special for anyone at all.
The Veteran’s Committee will announce the results of its balloting tomorrow, and actually, I have a feeling they’ll do the right thing and tap Ron Santo for the Hall of Fame. But I’m not sure they will, which in itself is depressing, since he should’ve been automatic ages ago. And even if they do, he’ll be just the second player they’ve elected in the last decade, along with Joe Gordon in 2009 (before that it was Bill Mazeroski in 2001, considered by many to be one of the worst fairly recent selections).
The committee has gone through several iterations, none of them particularly successful. The current one has three subcommittees, one each for the Pre-Integration, Shortly Post-Integration (officially named the “Golden” Era, but that’s terrible) and Expansion eras, each subcommittee consisting of a seemingly random collection of Hall of Fame players, retired executives and reporters (you can see this year’s “Golden Era” committee at the bottom of the article here).
It’s a mess, and seems specifically designed to severely limit the number of new Hall of Famers…which would be fine, if the various electing bodies hadn’t historically made a huge mess of it, leaving a whole lot of deserving candidates on the outside looking in. Even the selection of the ballot is funky — how on earth does Allie Reynolds make the cut? They’ve set up this one overarching process to handle everything except currently BBWAA-eligible players, and they’ve taken so much on and made such a weird convoluted mess of it that most frequently, it doesn’t do anything at all. Which is just what the song does.
Thus ends this week’s essential, earth-shattering look into how current events in baseball are kind of like other things. This has made me miss FotC quite a lot (they’re currently working on separate things, like Bret with The Muppets, though there are rumors of a reunion tour in 2012). Off to pop in the season 1 DVD…