I am incredibly resentful that Bill got around to writing about Buffy before I did, especially given that he hasn’t even finished watching the entire series. But, good news: just like there was a terrible movie that was completely mutilated by a meddlesome studio that Joss Whedon managed to turn into a remarkably awesome television phenomenon, so too can we go back and fix Bill’s column and make it better. So that’s what I’m going to do. Here we go (the same spoiler alert Bill gave totally applies):
First of all, Spike is a horrible choice for Billy Beane. Yes, he started off bad-ass, and became fairly neutered as the series progressed, but he went from awesome to lame and mostly stayed there for the rest of the series. Meanwhile, while Beane did go from a good GM, to what seemed to be a relatively indifferent GM for the last several seasons, it’s impossible to look at his performance this offseason with anything but admiration. His take in the Gio Gonzalez trade was terrific. He got good value for Andrew Bailey. And he turned the perpetually disappointing Trevor Cahill into a potential #1A or #2 starter in Jarrod Parker, and a decent outfielder in Collin Cowgill. Plus, the Cespedes signing came from way out of left field, and has the potential to be an impact acquisition. Billy Beane is back baby.
That’s why Angel makes a much better Billy Beane. Now, I know Angel took a while to get warmed up. He’s essentially eye candy in the pilot, and is not terribly well integrated into the first season. But in the second season, whoa boy. Angel and Buffy get their freak on, and after experiencing a moment of pure happiness, Angel turns evil because of a gypsy curse. Then he goes on a killing spree around Sunnydale, terrorizing Buffy and her friends, and trying to bring about the Apocalypse. But (spoiler alert) it doesn’t last. Buffy’s friends manage to restore Angel’s soul just before he gets sucked into hell, and he’s a good guy again (although even broodier–a century of torture in a hell dimension will do that to you) in Season 3. Angel doesn’t stay evil, and neither did Billy Beane.
Bill’s right about Brian Cashman being Willow, but he’s wrong about the reasons for it. Yes, Cashman has a knack for pulling a rabbit (Hiroki Kuroda/Michael Pineda) out of his hat, and other assorted magics just like Willow. But what’s more interesting is how he’s gone from a quiet wallflower in the Yankees organization back in the days of The Boss and Joe Torre, and become a powerful force in his own right. Cashman used to follow the Yankee way, signing every free agent available and burning money left and right. Now, he’s made his efforts more focused and more purposeful. He carries weight and he can throw it around. From publicly warning ownership not to sign Rafael Soriano, to defiantly taking on the New York media, Cashman has become the assertive, decisive, and charismatic leader the Yankees need to trust and hope doesn’t turn evil again.
And sure, Kenny Williams puts his foot in his mouth like Anya did, but more than anything else (even more than Xander), Anya loved money. You know who else loves money? Jeffrey Loria. That skinflint ran first the Expos, and now his Marlins on shoestring budgets, cutting corners wherever possible. He got rid of the English-language broadcast in Montreal, stole computers when he left town, and spent so little of his revenue-sharing money that the MLB Players Association filed a grievance against the team. Then he and team President David Samson muscled a publicly financed ballpark out of the Miami city council, and let the city absorb all the cost overruns (and then were dicks about it). Despite their spending spree this off-season, the Marlins continue to smell like the same cheapskates they’ve been for the past decade, leaving themselves open to dealing any of the recently acquired players as soon as Miami fans tire of the current squad and new ballpark.
I can’t really argue with Bill’s equation of Terry Ryan to Buffy. He seems pretty right on there. So instead of arguing with him, here are a bunch of Buffy characters and their MLB equivalent that Bill probably forgot about, but that you’ll want to have at your disposal:
Dan Duquette is Andrew, for lovable incompetence. (spoiler alert) Andrew came onto the show in the 6th season originally as a member of the villanous trio. Against all odds, he stuck around and was a hilariously inept part of the Scooby Gang for much of the final season
Jerry DiPoto is Faith, who showed up at the beginning of season 3 and who completely shook up the foundations of the show. Just like DiPoto did by signing Pujols and Wilson, and trading for Iannetta. Season 3 is as close to a perfect season of television as you’re going to find anywhere, by the way.
Dayton Moore is Mayor Wilkins, who apparently was mayor of Sunnydale (Buffy’s home) for the last 100 years, but no one really noticed it until Season 3. That’s when his evil plan to become an immortal demon started to come together, just like the Royals did last year. The Mayor is the best Big Bad, by the way. There’s no argument there.
Peter Abraham is Principal Schneider, who’s on a power trip and who lives to punish kids.
Theo Epstein is Giles, the patient mentor and father-figure to Buffy, who knows everything about everything, is the world’s most bad-ass librarian, and who has a surprisingly strong background in music and the occult. I suppose that could make Jed Hoyer Buffy, but we’ve already made Terry Ryan Buffy.
Joel Zumaya is Jennie Calendar. Poor Jennie. She was a great character, and Joss Whedon killed her (well, ok, Angel did while he was evil), leaving Giles anguished over his lost love and in full-on, bad-ass, go kill Angel with an ax and burn down his warehouse with some gasoline. Jennie was gone too soon, and her loss is devastating and permanent, as I’m afraid Zumaya’s is.
Every week, it seemed, Buffy’s house would get trashed by some demon or another. By the end of the show, it kind of became a running gag. Fortunately, one man was able to rebuild it over and over again out of the splinters and shards that were left. And really, only one man in the MLB is trying to build something out of absolutely nothing right now. That’s why Jeff Luhnow is Xander Harris.
Kenny Williams is Dawn, Buffy’s little sister and least useful member of the Scooby Gang. She’s actually not human, but a mystical energy that opens up a gateway between dimensions, who was crafted into a girl by monks trying to keep her away from an insane god. She randomly shows up in Season 5 and is super annoying. I really don’t think I need to explain any further.
The Royals are the Potential Slayers, who showed up in Season 7 in droves to escape from the forces of The First (as in, the original evil). They started off weak and vulnerable (and whiny, boring, and largely indistinguishable from one another except for one who is Chinese and doesn’t speak English, which becomes a great running gag), but because of Buffy’s training, Willow’s magic, and a mystical scythe, they’re able to tap into this potential and all become slayers.
Alex Anthoupolos is Oz, who actually dates Willow for about two seasons before she comes out. Oz is probably my favorite character in the show. Most of the time he’s incredibly quiet (“a taciturn man” according to Willow), but three days a month, he turns into a werewolf and can wreak incredible havoc across the Buffyverse. Kind of like how AA sits quietly up there in Canada, and only very rarely raises up to make a big and devastatingly effective move.
Sandy Alderson is probably Jessie. What’s that? You don’t remember Jessie? Don’t worry, I don’t blame you. He’s only in the pilot episode as Xander and Willow’s best friend. He’s the first character that Joss Whedon kills off for dramatic purposes, and to reiterate that, damn, Joss Whedon doesn’t mess around. He looks like he’s set up to be a major character for a long time, but then gets turned into a vampire, and Xander has to kill him. Tough luck Jessie! This is more of a feeling with Alderson, but with the bankruptcy and lawsuits finally behind them, I’m betting the Wilpon’s are going to get impatient with the rebuilding process and renege on their promises to Alderson and his crew. Just a hunch.
CJ Wilson is Cordelia, the prom queen/mean girl who turned into an occasional ally for Buffy and friends. Cordelia eventually became somewhat endearing, especially so once she transitioned over to Angel, but never really lost that inner core of bitchiness. CJ Wilson seems to have a lot of that in him, given that he published Mike Napoli’s phone number on the Internet for all to see over the weekend after his former battery-mate said he looked forward to hitting off the Angels’ new starter. Here’s hoping CJ learns to control his cattyness, but he’s going to be fun to watch if he turns full-heel.
Bud Selig is The First. The First is the first evil that ever existed. It is a dark and malevolent presence that cannot be killed. That cannot be destroyed. And that will never ever really go away. Enough said.
Suck it, Bill. You ain’t no real Buffy fan.