Banknotes Harper Will Not Manage Your Baseball Team

Banknotes

Talk fast, pork chop. Banknotes Harper doesn’t have all day.

If you’re seriously interested in hiring Banknotes Harper, you’ll need to speak up. Banknotes Harper can’t hear you over all the sex he’s having.

Banknotes Harper is calling you a canker blossom, and you’re overcome by the conviction that you are, indeed, one (a canker blossom).

You can stop yelling, now. Banknotes Harper is finished, and the entire female population of Morocco has covered its bosom with Banknotes Industries® monogrammed bedsheets.

Banknotes Harper knows damn well he could win the pennant next year, with or without whatever good thing you think you have going.

The entire female population of Morocco lights up 16,000,000 cigarettes.

You’re talking, but Banknotes Harper isn’t listening.

Banknotes Harper is staring hard at a vinyl copy of Belle & Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister.

Listen here, you maladroit oaf. Why don’t you take a second, breathe a bit, and think real hard about whether Banknotes Harper cares two spits about clubhouse amenities?

Banknotes Harper is on the other line, closing a trivial deal to purchase “something shitty.”

Every known vinyl copy of Belle & Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister is set suddenly ablaze.

Banknotes Harper is back in your ear, and now he’s interviewing you.

Who is your favorite poet?

Wrong. The correct answer is none of them.

A fancy memo is placed on your desk.

Your head is nodding along as you transcribe that when Banknotes Harper unfurls himself onto the shuffleboard table at Arnie’s Corner Bar & Grill, the table becomes obsolete.

Banknotes Harper believes you are a mountebank, and your roster is feckless snake oil.

Banknotes Harper is hanging up now.

The memo reads that the team has been sold to Something Shitty, LLC, a subsidiary of Banknotes Industries, Inc.

Banknotes Harper is your author and finisher, and he expects a comprehensive budget report by Tuesday next.

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Being a Braves Fan, The Process™, and Fun in Sports

Processed

Let’s talk about why sports exist.

As most of you know, sports were born from the Altoona Conference of 1849, mere weeks after the Mighty Men of Earth, history’s most reverential band of brothers, united from 62 countries to fend off the Zorgs. The Zorgs, as you definitely know, invaded Earth in 1846. You know all about how thousands of Zorgbots suddenly appeared across the globe over a span of four days. You don’t know why they came. No one does. But you know we defeated them. And you probably know their defeat was the result of a treaty in which the Zorgs agreed to peace only for so long as Earthlings put on funny costumes and did weird things with sticks and hats and various balls, keeping the Zorgs amused while they hover in their ships just slightly above our sports-saved planet. You know this. And you know, because of this, sports are the most vital key to our sustained, relatively peaceful existence.

Except you don’t know this, because it didn’t happen. Sports exist because sports are fun. They’re fun because of how utterly meaningless they are. Sports only matter because work sucks and bills suck and trying against all odds to keep tiny, helpless humans alive sucks. Sports exist because of rush-hour traffic, and people screaming into their cell phones in the grocery store line, and the inevitable truth that everyone you know and love will someday die.

And theeeeen…

Enter The Process™. Well, no.

The Process™ comes later. First, enter the development of sports into a multi-billion dollar machine. Enter 24/7 sports coverage on 239 TV channels. Enter Bill Walsh and Billy Beane, and then enter Michael Lewis. Enter Michael Jordan’s sneakers. Enter adult people in collared shirts talking seriously in their office’s break room about whether another adult person who goes to work in short-sleeved hoodies knew about football deflation. Enter the growing interest of smart sports fans who decided to supplement the fun of watching sports with the fun of going behind the curtain and exacting more and more detail about how teams win games.

Then, enter The Process™.

The Process – (n.) the deliberate sacrifice of short-term success for better odds of sustainable future success; tanking.

The Process™ didn’t ruin sports. This is true primarily because sports aren’t ruined. Instead, there’s a select group of fans (of which the present author is a long-tenured and sad member) who ruined their own sports experience. We’re a group who, after the entering of all those aforementioned things that entered, conflated the fun experience of sports as a live, spontaneous, meaningless on-field product with the behind-the-scenes experience of analytics, strategy, and the efficiency of building a winning product. These two things are very different.

Now, consider: (a) my previous acknowledgement of being a sad and long-tenured conflator, (b) the current state of the Atlanta Braves, and (c) I’m a Braves fan.

(a) + (b) + (c) = broken sporps (sic, of course)

This isn’t the Braves’ problem, so much as it’s my problem. The Braves are doing a smart thing, and while their performance in the second half of 2015 is most kindly described as “incomprehensibly terrible,” they still play baseball. And watching baseball is fun! The unfettered joy that results from watching Andrelton Simmons backhand a ground ball approximately one mile away from where he began the play, then laser a throw off his back foot to first base in time to record an out is the same unfettered joy whether the Braves are winning 3-2, or (more likely) losing 48-0. The experience of watching a walk-off home run is the same, whether it’s Evan Gattis hitting it for a 96-win team, or Nick Markakis hitting it for a team built to lose. Point being, reader, that fun and exciting baseball things are fun and exciting regardless of the bigger picture. The moments of joy are fleeting and and less common, but they’re there.

Here’s the problem, though: It’s really hard for me to care about those things. To the conflator, those things are irrelevant. And the crux of it all is, again, the Braves are doing a smart thing. It’s something the long-tenured and sad version of myself agrees with in toto.

A N D

S O

B U T

T H E N

this is the place where the fun and the non-fun and the smart and the dumb all smash together repeatedly for centuries and emerge in the visible light spectrum as a bland baseball-watching experience. Here we are, my fellow conflators. We’re in a room of mirrors and the only image bouncing back and forth to and from every angle is dread. And it was us who bought the supplies and googled “how to hang mirrors” and built the dang place.

We’ve decided the fun is in winning, and those smarter than us realized that winning later is in losing now, and the result is that, for conflators/Braves fans, fun is in a slow-moving vessel headed our way from slightly further out than Mars. I, and maybe you, won’t have fun watching baseball until (admission: this is optimistic) 2017.

Unless, of course, we choose to have fun. The way to experience sports, like everything else all the time, is the result of choice. So choose. Walk straight into your local tattoo parlor and festoon in a circle around your belly button: SPORTS ARE MEANINGLESS AND THEIR RESUL TING JOY IS IMMEDIATE. Keep an eye out for diving catches and shoulder-to-ankle curveballs. The Braves will probably hit a walk-off home run next year, and it’ll be momentarily awesome. It won’t matter that it’s hit by a 39 year-old named Dummy Joe Bagnuts, or that it’ll precede eight consecutive losses. Shelby Miller is going to go 1-26 with a 2.05 ERA next year, and it’s going to be depressing. But along the way he’ll strike out 13 in a game or help his cause with a lead-taking triple. These tiny bits of joy and wonderment will add up to nothing, but the entire existence of sports adds up to nothing. It doesn’t matter. Enjoy the moments, live in them for a few seconds, and write some extremely detailed fanfic about receiving a hug from Freddie Freeman.

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Mighty Snoop Dogg at the Bat: A Viewer’s Instruction Manual

Photo by Frank Victores, USA TODAY Sports

Photo by Frank Victores, USA TODAY Sports

Do not allow yourself to simply look at this wonderful photo taken by USA Today Sports’ Frank Victores. Rather, oblige yourself to marvel at it. If you can, take out your ol’ eyeballs and set them down in the direct viewing area of this photo, then blindly hail a cab to the nearest fancy store and buy Frank Victores an expensive gift.

Study this photo of energy that is neither potential, nor kinetic, but rather just there. Crawl up the bat and over the forearm onto the top elbow which is strangely and beautifully on the exact same vertical plane as the bottom elbow, position your puppeteering little index finger on Snoop’s soul patch and tug down to the tune of “DEEZ NUTS!”

Let this photo – this frozen capsule of that moment just before the bizzle hits the bizzle and the crizzle goes wizzle – let it choose what’s for dinner. Let it inform your decisions re: fashion, career choice, love pursuits, burial vs. cremation, etc. Notice that the ball isn’t yet in frame, but also know that, as soon as it collides with Snoop’s weapon, it (the ball) will then specialize in making all the girls get naked.

May the above image inspire your greatest poetry. May you fill all 200 sheets of your Mead® Five Star® 5-Subject College-Rule Notebook with odes to the deliberate and complex matching of wristband and glove and jersey below a hat that is pretty much in a different universe, color-wise. May you ponder, in verse, that between the bridge of his nose and the bill of his hat, the photo’s subject could very well pass for 1979’s Eric Estrada.

Document the historic transition from baseball’s Steroid Era to it’s G-Funk Era.

Save it to your computer’s hard drive, submit it to your local Walgreens to be printed on their largest canvas, then hang the finished product on the wall opposite your bed to fuel your nightmares about whatever Snoop’s legs might be doing while his top half is positioned like that.

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Lucas Sims and Lucas Simms: Alike, but Different

Lucas Sims

Lucas Simms, mayor/sheriff of the post-apocalyptic town of Megaton in the year 2277.

Lucas Simms

Lucas Sims, Atlanta Braves pitching prospect

About the two men pictured above, certain truths are absolute:

  • They are, physically, precisely identical.
  • They share the morally superior middle-name “Sundberg.”
  • They were both living in Cheektowaga, New York when the storm of 1977 hit, and both lived through the blizzard by way of an intricate beans rationing system. However, neither one was aware of the other’s presence in Cheektowaga, New York during the storm of 1977.

Given the above truths, it is entirely reasonable should one convince oneself that these are not two men at all. Rather, one might convince oneself, they are very obviously one single entity. Well, listen up, oneself. You are wrong, and thus you are a muttonhead.

The man in the top photo is Lucas Simms, who is the sheriff and also the mayor of Fallout 3’s Megaton. For reasons obvious, he wears a baseball uniform and poses for photographs as a pitcher come set.

The man in the bottom photo is Lucas Sims, who is a pitching prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization. He entered the season ranked as baseball’s 64th best prospect by Baseball Prospectus. For reasons obvious, he wears the uniform of a cartoon cowboy and carries a large, futuristic weapon across his back.

 

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Pitchers and Pessimists

May 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

May 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Included for your viewing pleasure is an image of antisvelte pitcher Bartolo Colon combined with the written words of the joyously deceased pessimist, E.M. Cioran. By posting the Cioran quote over the image of Colon flailing (and failing) at a pitch offered up by an unknown Pirates hurler, I am trying to draw a cheap connection between Colon’s increasing vitality over the last few years with his declining physical refinement.

Cioran remains justified and indifferent.


As the newest staff writer to Most Valuable Zobrist, I feel obliged to give fair warning to you, fair reader, regarding my production rate. My output to this site will unfortunately be infrequent (for the near future). So much so, that I might even go as far as suggesting it might border on Malickian levels (Did I just compare myself to Terrence Malick? I’m afraid I did. That’s the kind of highfalutin writing you can expect from this low-output blogger). My goal will be to contribute something silly and random to MVZ at least once a month. Of course, my fingers will be crossed that I am eventually able to post a higher rate of production. But also, my fingers will remain crossed that your own fingers won’t be crossed in hopes that my actual production will be less.

–NCL

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Most Valuable Zobrist’s 2015 MLB Draft Prospect Guide: The Later Rounds

The 2015 First-Year Player Draft begins Monday. With excellent coverage like Kiley McDaniel’s latest mock draft at FanGraphs and Michael Baumann’s Grantland primer on top prospects, the internet has made the greatness of players like Alex Bregman and Carson Fulmer readily available.

One doesn’t have to look hard for all the details on the draft’s top talent, but it isn’t so easy to find information on potential late-round steals. For that, Most Valuable Zobrist has you covered.

Here are five players to look for in the draft’s later rounds:

Jaxx Vilkhommen, OF, State School of Resemblance to The Hague (OH) –  There is no doubting Jaxx’s ability to hit, as the big righty mashed Ohio’s 2A competition to the tune of .577/.790/1.120. I’ve spoken to a few scouts who worry about whether his glove can play in center, but others point to a game in which SSoRtTH lost both corner outfielders to injury and Vilkhommen successfully covered the entire outfield for four innings. The real concern here is Jaxx’s size, as he grew 43 inches before his senior year and now stands 9’8”.

Quinntucket Wells-Barney, SS, Tri-County School of Trades (NM) – Physically, Quinntucket is a rare specimen who leaves little to question about his status as a true five-tool prospect. Mentally, however, there are several red flags. A few weeks ago, we heard reports that Wells-Barney hasn’t slept in over three years. There is also some concern that QWB’s habit of wearing a tool belt containing five actual tools may hinder his ability to hit Major League pitching.

Xart Blumenthal, LHP, Clandestine University – It’s safe to say that, of all the pitching prospects with no arms, Blumenthal is the most hyped. The 22 year-old leaves Clandestine as the most decorated pitcher in Big Conference history, so production is not a concern. Scouts rave about the consistency of the lefty’s mechanics, and love that his delivery method – in which he places the ball between his teeth, performs a forward somersault, and jerks his neck forward from a side angle to propel the ball forward – places no stress on his non-existent throwing arm.

Terdo Crimshaw , 1B, Perennial College of General Studies – Crimshaw can absolutely rake, but there is significant concern that he grew too accustomed to college life and may have difficulty adjusting to the real world. During interviews with several teams, Terdo brought with him a boombox playing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” on repeat and seemed more interested in playing a solo game of hacky sack than answering questions. When he did speak, he mostly avoided the questions and, instead, expressed a very rudimentary understanding of the consequences of white flight.

Gnarth Flugenbort, C, Brian Doyle-Murray Academy for Reformed Boys (IL) – I’ve talked to several scouts who say Flugenbort’s skills behind the plate may be the most advanced in this draft. Offensively, he is certainly a project, but he has the frame and raw skills to be a 15-20 HR hitter in the Majors. Gnarth was considered by some to be a fringe first-round prospect, but his status took a serious hit after revealing his previous affiliation with the country’s most violent age-10-&-under motorcycle gang. Despite the character concerns, he remains the most likely of the prospects on this list to charge into the top ten rounds.

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Player A vs. Player B: Bryce Harper/Carlos Corporan Edition

Let’s play a game, fellows. Provided the stat lines below, it is the participant’s job to determine which anonymous documentation of performance belongs to Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, and which belongs to Rangers employee Carlos Corporan.

Player A: .333/.472/.732, 15 HR, .399 ISO, 217 wRC+, 3.1 WAR

Player B: .200/.300/.300, 1 HR, .100 ISO, 67 wRC+, 0.2 WAR

Behold, answers after the jump!

Continue reading

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Say Hello, Won’t Ya? Most Valuable Zobrist Has a New Writer

As the classic saying goes, “Two people offering infrequent updates to a so-called baseball blog are better than one.”

As such, Most Valuable Zobrist welcomes Nicolas Labbe to its writing, uh, staff. Nicolas has agreed to contribute to MVZ under the false pretense of receiving Bitcoin investment advice from yours truly.

Nick fulfills the two most important (read: only) criteria required of an MVZ contributor, noted here:

  1. He enjoys baseball, and his offerings on the subject are generally (a) smart, (b) funny, or (c) both.*
  2. He speaks aloud to his pets, as evidenced in the tweet below.

Welcome, Nick! Merry posting!

*Notice these conditions apply specifically to an MVZ “contributor.” As the founder and de facto editor of the site, it is quite permissible that my offerings are neither smart, nor funny.

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Escape From Chavez Ravine

Coming soon to a theater near you is the dramatic and very, very powerful short film, “Escape from Chavez Ravine”. Starring Giancarlo Stanton, it’s a simple tale of a humble baseballist who takes a young and initially naive baseball under his tutelage and attempts to help it escape the hitters’ hellhole known as Dodger Stadium.

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Rejoice Society! For Corey Kluber Has Performed Miracles!

Corey Kluber

It was the first strikeout which cured Verna-Jo Moonwraith – the one from Appomattox, VA – of the furious case of gout that has plagued her left foot since The Incident back in the summer of  ’84.

It was the second strikeout which restored electricity to over 900 homes in Richland County.

It was the third strikeout which turned Darby Naismith from lame to able so that, in just an instant, he was up and performing a respectable Charleston.

It was the fourth strikeout which swallowed the whole of my personal student loan debt, then ejected it back into the world at large as a forgotten curiosity.

It was the fifth strikeout which kicked some very real shit (i.e. human fecal matter) out of Geraldo Rivera.

It was the sixth strikeout which made some, like, for-real headway toward combining pizza and nachos in a way that actually works.

It was the seventh strikeout which handed Leon Poughkeepsie an abundance of luck so great that he hit it big on twelve straight cards at the local bingo hall.

It was the eighth strikeout which convinced Donald J. Trump – starting now and lasting through the rest of his days – that he is definitely (i.e. 100%) a character in the greaser clique from the musical film Grease.

It was the ninth strikeout which cured Yu Darvish.

It was the tenth strikeout which made illegal, and punishable by death, the words “Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

It was the eleventh strikeout which awarded Pulp Fiction the 1995 Academy Award for Best Picture.

It was the twelfth strikeout which made all cheeses totally noncaloric.

It was the thirteenth strikeout which resulted in the immediate cancellation of The Big Bang Theory.

It was the fourteenth strikeout which required the revolution to be televised.

It was the fifteenth strikeout which turned all the world’s guns into anatomically correct balloon animals.

It was the sixteenth strikeout which ended the wars.

It was the seventeenth strikeout which dissolved the patriarchy.

It was the eighteenth strikeout which allowed the world to order a pizza by tweeting a pizza emoji at Domino’s.

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