It pains me to lose the alliteration for a week, but it had to be done. The Common Man shirked his responsibility to bring you your weekly dose of Monday Metaphors yesterday (albeit with justification), and what I wanted to do today was more metaphor-y than Tuesday Tangent-y. Things will be back to normal next week, probably, or maybe it’ll be Monday Cozmo-Type Quizzes and Tuesday Word Search Puzzles or something. Who can say? It’s a world gone mad.
My wife watches a lot of cooking shows. This is not a thing in which I complain about my wife; generally, when I’m around, we watch sports or awesome movies or Mad Men or Community. But she does in fact watch them, sometimes, so I’ve picked up a bit by proximity. It’s an interesting little world, almost a subculture, filled mostly by people who probably aren’t great at being television personalities or at preparing food, but whose mixture of quasi-proficiency at both has allowed them to carve out this little niche for themselves.
If this were a different blog and if I were a different person, I’d go on a bit about how an MLB front office’s job was a lot like a chef’s, what with the recipes and the execution and whatnot. I’ll assume you can make all those connections yourself, though, and just tell you how the following famous cooking personalities are like the following MLB front office personnel:
The Marlins are Paula Deen.
Paula Deen (pictured to the right, demonstrating her infamous ButterBall before a Mets-Nationals game) has as her major selling point excess in an age of moderation. Robin Williams would struggle to do a more ridiculously, borderline-offensively over-the-top impression of a stereotypical American southerner than the one Deen personifies. And her cooking is stereotypical southern comfort food; everything uses approximately a pound of butter, or heavy cream, or both, and is deep fried. I assume her food tastes pretty good, but I can’t say as I know; I’m pretty sure any one of her recipes would be the death of me. It may perhaps strike you as unsurprising news that Deen recently announced she has diabetes.
The Marlins had a Deen-like appetite this offseason, declaring at the Winter Meetings that they wanted ALL THE PLAYERS. They grabbed Reyes, even though their franchise player played the same position (and seemed to want nothing to do with a position switch). They were apparently serious about pursuing Albert Pujols, even though two of their better players (Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison) should really only be playing the same position Pujols plays. It was a sugar-on-top-of-butter-with-a-gallon-of-heavy-cream sort of strategy.
Ned Colletti is Sandra Lee.
“Chef” is kind of a stretch for Lee, whose show “Semi-Homemade,” and related books, are only sort of about cooking. The concept calls for 70% of her recipes to be ready-made products, and 30% to be fresh ingredients. The upshot is that she ends up taking a bunch of things out of cans or bags or jars, and mixing them together. And I guess the idea is fine — busy people need recipes that taste good, too — but it’s not the kind of idea that should make one person famous. Have a show featuring real-life, busy stay-at-home parents and their dinner solutions, or something like that, you know? But, no. The end result here is that you’ve got a “cooking show” featuring a “celebrity” with no discernible talent, and with frankly terrifying taste, who appears to kind of hate cooking.
I’ll be making fun of this article by Tom Verducci until the day that I die, which, 375 years from now, long after most have forgotten that Ned Colletti or baseball or the planet Earth ever existed, will be a pretty lonely, off-putting endeavor, but it’ll still be funny to me. That article was about how Colletti had embraced “Moneyball,” and in reality, he took to the Moneyball philosophy (such as it is) about as well as Sandra Lee takes to cooking. He’s got this whole big high-profile job, and he’s had it for years now (
five six of them, if you’re counting in baseball seasons), and it’s a bit hard to see why. He’s made a couple moves that turned out pretty well — traded for Andre Ethier, acquired Manny Ramirez — but he’s also made a whole bunch of foreseeably disastrous ones. The Dodgers won 95 in 2009 — mostly on the backs of players whose acquisition predated Colletti, though Manny obviously had a say in it — and otherwise have been an 82-win team in the Colletti era [edit: that's 2007-08 and 2010-11; 2006 was technically part of the Colletti era too].
Colletti gets to keep one of the most desirable front-office jobs in sports (er, well, not right this moment, but historically); Lee has multiple TV shows, has “written” more than twenty books, and is dating the governor of New York. That’s life, kids.
Kenny Williams is Nigella Lawson.
You really have to see and hear Nigella Lawson to believe her, and unfortunately, a lot of people in this country haven’t. Here’s what looks, in my 30-second preview, like a representative sample. Here’s a parody that might actually give you a better idea. Nigella’s show is visually and aurally stunning, but not usually in a food-y sort of way. She’s a lovely woman with a kind of aristocratic but nonetheless warm British accent, and a particularly rich, sensual way of speaking. From the way she dresses and carries herself, to her voice, to the way the food is presented, to her vocabulary — she actually uses words like “voluptuous” to describe her food, and frequently — to the very sounds the food makes that the director decides to feature and amplify, her show comes off as almost literal “food porn.” It’s not necessarily intended to be sexual — though sometimes, it’s difficult not to hear it that way — but it definitely plays on a series of things humans react to that aren’t obviously connected to the food itself. It’s likely, from what I can tell, that she’s a very good chef, and her food may well be spectacular. But that’s just not the point of it at all.
Likewise, Kenny Williams might be an excellent GM, but who’d notice? I’m sure they’re out there, but I’ve never seen an honest assessment of Williams’ actual performance as GM. It’s all about what crazy thing he’s going to do next. He’s the one GM active right now who is likely to provide an interesting quote. He had a long-lasting soap opera of a feud with his manager. He called perhaps the best player in franchise history “an idiot.” He traded for Alex Rios and one of the worst contracts in history. He blew up a still-contending team in 2003. He brought a broken-down Ken Griffey Jr. in to “play” center field. This year, he’s finally driven out that manager and has made a series of moves that say the White Sox are rebuilding, and another that suggest they’re not. Did, or will, these moves “work”? Who knows? Really, who cares? With Williams, as with Lawson, it’s about everything but the one thing that’s ostensibly supposed to be his job.
So, there’s that. I’m pretty confident that Ruben Amaro Jr. is Giada DeLaurentis, and Andrew Friedman is Alton Brown, and I’m afraid Doug Melvin might be Guy Fieri. What else?