Monday, June 13, 2011

3 comments Apparently Doug Glanville Thinks Sam Fuld is Superman

Doug Glanville used to be an MLB player and now he writes for He thinks Sam Fuld is much like Superman. He probably thinks this because some people have given Fuld the nickname "Superman." Now Glanville realizes Fuld isn't the best baseball player on the Rays, in their outfield or perhaps even the best left fielder in the Rays organization, but he has grit and hustle that makes him superhuman. Glanville believes Fuld's glove holds superpowers. He may also believe in leprechauns, the Tooth Fairy, and innate goodness of people, all of which are fictional as well. So Glanville decides to write about Fuld's superpowers at length and continue with the Superman comparison until it has been beaten in the ground and has become more than just hyperbole. It's been a while since I have been able to do a post about a writer who believes a player is gritty and hustles. Thanks to Dave for emailing me the link to this article or I would have missed out on a gem.

I think my biggest question about Doug Glanville is why his photo on the site looks like it was taken at "Glamour Shots." He has his head tilted with his hand under his chin, like he just done with a serious thought and is proud of the conclusion he reached.

As a kid, I did believe in Superman, at least the spirit of him. And baseball has always been a sport where Superman fits in.

There is no world where Superman fits in! He's an outcast I tell you! Haven't you seen the movies?

On the other hand, he is the superhero we have come to seek in the skies, just as in baseball it takes a Superman spirit to endure, as both fan and player.

(my head begins hurting upon reading this sentence)

It really doesn't take a Superman spirit to endure as a fan. Sports are entertainment. If you feel it takes a Superman spirit to endure being a fan of a baseball team, you need to find more obstacles to overcome in life.

Yet Superman had the ability to achieve greatness through powers beyond our reach, despite having a great weakness. He was super not only because of these powers, but because he was human enough to not understand them and sometimes not even want them.

This is just like Sam Fuld. He has the power to hit over .250 with 20 home runs with 80 stolen bases, all while fighting inner-city crime in every major city, he just doesn't want to do it because he understands him being on the field isn't the best thing for the Rays future and he can fight crime later in life. He doesn't need to lower the crime rate in all major cities by 15% right now because he has to inspire Rays fans. Fuld holds back his abilities for the greater good of society, except he also gives 110% every night. He's quite a contradiction.

When Manny Ramirez walked out the door, the distortion of Superman may have left with him. Ramirez exited hand-in-hand with a time we called the "steroid era."

So the steroid era exited with Manny Ramirez? Did no one tell Alex Rodriguez or David Ortiz they had retired? Actually, how come no one who follows baseball got Ramirez was the "last" of the PED users to exit baseball?

Ramirez isn't the last accused steroid user to still be playing in MLB. There are others, so the distortion of Superman didn't exactly leave with him.

A time when Supermen were able to hit baseballs onto rooftops and pitchers could throw nearly 100 mph at age 40. No one seemed to age, no one got tired and, worst of all, no one was allowed to be Clark Kent.

I haven't read any of Doug Glanville's other writing, but if this is indicative of how he writes then he should be kept away from a keyboard at all costs.

But someone walked in the door as Manny walked out. Sam Fuld landed on our planet,

Finally, someone who can hit .230/.280/.351 has landed on our planet. Do you know how hard it is to find a 29 year old major league baseball player and corner outfielder with no power who is also a mediocre hitter when it comes to hitting for average AND this guy plays everyday? It is incredibly tough to find players like this because most of these players are still playing in the minor leagues.

So if Superman is a person who has the talent to land on Earth and actually be worse at his job than his fellow Earth people, than Sam Fuld is Superman. Apparently he has landed to make the other MLB players look good when it comes to hitting.

a solid minor league player who made contact,

He's on pace for 600 at-bats and will strike out approximately (projected) 84 times in those at-bats. So he is solid in that he makes contact, but it doesn't do much good when he's getting on-base at a 29% clip. Combined with his lack of power, I am not impressed with him enough to compare him to Superman.

stole a few bases

"A few" literally. He had 14 stolen bases when I wrote this and had gotten caught 6 times. That's a not-so-Supermanlike 70% stolen base success percentage.

and seemed to fly with his glove.

Except he didn't fly with his glove. He is a very good left fielder, but he is essentially a defensive replacement getting regular at-bats. That's not good for the Rays when they are middle of the pack in the majors in runs scored and 4th in their own division in runs scored.

Super Sam had not been in the Chicago Cubs' plans as a solution to much of anything other than a defensive replacement,

This is probably because Super Sam isn't so super at being anything but a defensive replacement. Yet, he is on pace for 600 at-bats and Doug Glanville is celebrating this. I don't know why this is supposed to be a good thing. Fuld isn't a shortstop, catcher or a second baseman. He is a corner outfielder where traditionally a player with the ability to hit for power or average is a necessity for a team. So I hate to feel like I am dumping on Sam Fuld, but I am not a person to celebrate mediocrity or averageness.

so they did him a favor

And themselves a favor by getting rid of a guy who was too old to be a prospect anymore...

and let him soar south to Tampa, cape and all, to finally get the shot he needed to shake the perception of him as an aging, non-starting player whose 30th birthday was on the horizon.

They let Fuld go shake the perception as an aging (29 years old), non-starting player (his OPS+ for this year is currently 81) whose birthday is on the horizon (November). What has Fuld done? Played great defense and then lent credence to the perception he is an aging, non-starting MLB player. For this, Doug Glanville shall celebrate him.

Through grit and determination,

He has zero athletic skill. It is all grit, determination and maybe even a little magic that has gotten Sam Fuld to where he is today. Fuld is completely unathletic or skilled, yet somehow managed to be a professional baseball player due to the fact he tries harder than anyone else.

His numbers at the plate do not evoke Legion of Doom fear, especially compared to what we have come to expect from a corner outfielder.

But if you lower your expectations for what a corner outfielder should do at the plate, Sam Fuld is a regular Joe DiMaggio. If you feel it necessary to compare Sam Fuld to other corner outfielders in the majors, and I don't know why that is necessary to ruin the perception of Sam Fuld as a Superman, then he isn't even Dom or Vince DiMaggio.

He is hitting .227 and he doesn't have the requisite power game (sporting only three homers in 52 games), but he is playing and just about every day.

He's playing everyday for two reasons:

1. He is a hustling, gritty player who has grabbed the 17,000 Rays fans in attendance by the heart and squeezed their heart with the scrappiness he is known for until their heart can't handle the passion he has in his body and they are forced, through Fuld's own unique will and want, to love him and want to watch him play baseball.

2. The Rays haven't called Desmond Jennings up yet.

Only in the Bizarro World would we have accepted this kind of offensive production from a left fielder.

Only in a world where a team has a payroll limitations and doesn't want to commit to a long-term starter in left field because one of their top prospects can play that position is this short-term offensive production accepted.

Fuld is playing left field daily for a couple of reasons, none of which have to do with him being Superman, which is why Glanville's gushing review of Fuld is uncalled for.

1. He's playing because Manny Ramirez retired, which moved Johnny Damon to DH.

2. There is no other solution on the roster for left field.

3. The Rays don't have a ton of money to go and sign a better hitting LF.

4. Even if the Rays had a ton of money for this, they wouldn't do it because Desmond Jennings will be in the majors very, very soon.

5. Fuld plays pretty good defense.

So Fuld is playing due to circumstances, the lack of a want by the Rays organization to get a better hitter in LF, and because he's the only one left to play LF. I don't think a "hustle-grit" piece on him is necessary.

Despite his quantifiable work, he has been a force to be reckoned with by his fans and opponents alike, so much so that the Tampa Bay Rays had a Super Sam Fuld Cape Day in his honor on Sunday.

You can't measure what Fuld does by trying to measure in actual quantifiable terms. You have to think of some useless bullshit (or talk about his defense, which isn't useless) like talking about his heart, hustle or him being Superman to measure what a great player is.

You need to use the completely unmeasurable, intangible positive attributes of Fuld in order to measure how great he is. So you measure his greatness by using things that can't be measured.

This takes us back. In the '80s, as a fan it was a time when you could expect Omar Moreno or Gary Pettis to be playing every day mostly because of their speed and defense. It was a time when stopping teams from scoring was as important as driving runs in.

I'm pretty sure a couple of teams have paid extra attention to having a great team defense lately and have had mixed results. It didn't work out for the Mariners last year because they had a shit lineup. The Rays are near the bottom of the league in runs scored, they need to pay attention to making sure they score more runs and Fuld doesn't help too much in that respect.

So stopping the other team from scoring is very important, but teams that have trouble scoring don't have the luxury of having players who are in their for their speed and defense. So while Glanville's reasoning may be somewhat sound, in respect to the current Rays team, getting nostalgic and crediting Fuld for being a throwback doesn't help the current Rays team.

So Larry Bowa played, Ozzie Smith played, Jim Sundberg played, Mark Belanger played, Rick Manning played. No one could get the ball past these guys and it was understood that they needed to be out there every day to be fielding a winning team.

Larry Bowa played on a team with Mike Schmidt, Tug McGraw, Steve Carlton, and an aging Pete Rose. His defense could have been afforded in that lineup.

Ozzie Smith is one of the best defensive shortstops in the history of baseball and wasn't a power hitter but he got on base at a great clip in the prime of his career and he stole bases very successfully. From 1982 to 1993 he stole 20 or more bases and never got caught stealing more than 9 times.

Jim Sundberg won a World Series in 1985, but other than that he was a great defensive catcher and that is about it. He isn't Hall of Fame worthy.

Mark Belanger was on Orioles teams that had great pitching and great hitting. So his great defense was a luxury they could afford.

Yes, there have been players throughout the history of baseball that are good fielders and not great hitters, but I think to compare Sam Fuld to any of these players like Ozzie Smith, Jim Sundberg, and Mark Belanger is doing them a disservice. Plus, the fact other teams had these type of players doesn't necessarily justify Fuld playing everyday. I think Fuld is a great defensive player and would be handy off the bench, but it is silly to think he will be the long-term answer.

But the obsession with the home run overwhelmed this train of thought and, one by one, these players faded onto Triple-A rosters and into defensive replacement columns.

The priority became to score as many runs as possible and then worry about stopping the other team in the ninth inning.

Starting pitchers over the last decade or so have pitched underhand to the plate, not even caring if the other team scored runs or not. Sometimes teams didn't even have any players fielding the ball, it was just the pitcher and the catcher playing the field. All the other players were in the dugout using steroids and working on new techniques to hit home runs. That is, until the 9th inning. At that point, it was time to care about stopping the other team from scoring and so teams would bring out their best pitcher.

Doug Glanville remembers these days of when teams didn't care about giving up runs vividly as his mind slowly begins to give into the onset of dementia.

Yet I remember as a fan jumping out of my chair when I saw a great defensive play. I remember how that changed the momentum of a game or gave a pitching staff a boost of confidence.

So does Doug Glanville think Derek Jeter making great fielding plays during the playoffs were the catalyst behind the Yankees winning four World Championships from 1996-2000? If so, I love hyperbolic evidence like this. I'm not exactly sure how to measure if a fielding played did increase a pitcher's confidence or changed the momentum of a game.

You know what made me jump out of my seat and caused the momentum of a game to change? When a player hits a home run that puts runs on the board for his team. Those seem to change the momentum of the game. I don't even have to use hyperbolic evidence to prove this, much to Doug "The Big Hyperbole" Glanville's dismay, I have quantifiable evidence.

Kirby Puckett's home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series.
Joe Carter's home run in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series.
David Justice's home run in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series (my personal favorite).
Jim Leyritz (may he burn in Hell) in Game 3 of the 1996 World Series.
Derek Jeter's Game 1 home run against the Orioles in the 1996 ALDS.
Kirk Gibson's Game 1 home run against the A's in the 1988 World Series.

Now, I've become bored...but you get the point. There are plenty of examples of home runs that have ended games or changed the momentum of games. Great hitting changes the momentum of games also, just like good defense is necessary as well and really isn't overlooked.

I also remember when I was particularly upset at my offensive performance over a stretch and teammate Curt Schilling said to me, "Don't worry about it, just keep catching that ball."

Here is really why Glanville is writing this "hustle-grit" piece, because he wasn't a great hitter himself. So by propping up Sam Fuld for his fielding even though he isn't a great hitter, Doug Glanville is essentially trying to ensure everyone remembers he was a good baseball player as well.

Also, Doug Glanville sponsors his own Baseball-Reference page. Take from that what you will. I can't decide if this is more pathetic or more egotistical.

Super Sam Fuld has helped us find something again. The underdog, the guy who plays it straight, the guy who isn't supposed to be penciled in every day without a second thought -- but is.

Super Sam Fuld has helped us discover the player whose hitting skill level is actually below the replacement player. He is a guy who the replacement player would replace if Fuld didn't have so much fucking heart to not allow this to happen.

He's like Darin Erstad on steroids. Except Sam Fuld wouldn't do steroids because he plays it straight. In fact, he doesn't he even play it straight because he's too good for that. He plays the game of baseball Full Fuld. That's the highest of compliments, like a Nobel Peace Prize only given to the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. That's what Sam Fuld is.

He plays the game like it was meant to be played by players who are below average hitters. Sam Fuld represents the mediocrity baseball has been missing since the steroid days (except guys like Darin Erstad and David Eckstein would fawned over during the Steroid Era, so this really isn't true). Welcome back mediocrity, Doug Glanville has missed you.

He has challenged a time when a little pill or a shot made him and his kind fall off of the face of the earth while tricking us into believing that Supermen only do things that no one else can do.

Remember Sam Fuld has done this. Not the players like Albert Pujols or Jose Bautista who play at a high level without the aid of steroids. Not them. The players in Doug Glanville's world who remind us great things are possible in baseball are the players like Sam Fuld who aren't actually capable of great things, not the players like Roy Halladay or Joey Votto who are capable of greatness.

That they are supposed to leap Green Monsters, power home runs over Death Valley, see through the weakness of anxiety without emotion. A time when humanity seemed to become irrelevant.

Seriously, we can't allow Doug Glanville to continue to write about these type things.

But Fuld also tells us that anything is possible not just for himself, but for the world that watches him play. He is able to leap tall buildings in part because he carries the strength of an honest "everyday" effort on his shoulders.

As opposed to guys like Evan Longoria or actual superstars that are just really damn lazy and don't put in an honest effort,yet somehow play at an elite level?

He is relatable; he does not have any particular power other than showing up every day and leaving it on the field with a magic glove that he made with his own hands.

Let's break this crap sentence down to get to the real juicy shitty writing.

he does not have any particular power other than showing up every day

He shows up everyday, just like nearly every other everyday position player in the major leagues does, except other players who show up everyday don't "try as hard" apparently. This is terrible use of hyperbole.

and leaving it on the field with a magic glove

Really? A magic glove? This sentence has both the cliche of "leaving it on the field" while also referring to "a magic glove." This sentence should go in the bad sportswriting Hall of Fame. Too bad Fuld's magic doesn't extend to any other facet of playing baseball.

that he made with his own hands.

Sam Fuld did not make his "magic" glove with his own two hands. I'm on hyperbole and cliche overload right now.

Here is a list of other things Sam Fuld has made with his own two hands:

-A time machine that he doesn't use because he plays it straight. He did create the time machine though and immediately destroyed it after it served its one true purpose.
-Baby Jesus
-The gun that killed Osama bin Laden
-The ability for small children to feel humanity
-A stairway to heaven
-A unicorn with two horns---a tunicorn
-The state of Maine
-Christmas caroling
-A vaccine that avoided a plague in the early 18th century---he used his time machine for this one purpose.

And that is truly what Superman is about. A very human soul almost trapped with powers that he doesn't quite know how to harness.

Or in the case of Sam Fuld, powers he doesn't actually possess.

His humanity is what allows him to be real, to be possible even when he sees through walls. Such is the life of a major league player -- with great talent, you worry so much about your performance, your Kryptonite, your arch-enemies, that you forget that you can inspire people by just being human.

Sometimes baseball players are so concerned with helping their team win and not being a liability as a hitter, they forget that if they play for a team that is using them as a stopgap player until their best hitting prospect can make it to the majors, then by inspiring people they will forget you are a terrible hitter and you most likely should be replaced very soon despite your excellent and scrappy defense.

The PEDs just gave us and the game hollow souls. Pimping Superman to make him out to be invincible, someone who never had doubt, who used his powers to erase history and destroy mankind.

Again, the person who saved us from this is not one of the many baseball players that perform at a high level without the use of PEDs, but the players like Sam Fuld who perform at a low level without PEDs. They are a reminder of the mediocrity small market teams are forced to endure until a better player currently in the minors is ready to be called up to the majors.

Steroids thought they could make everyone Superman but in reality were just letting Lex Luthor get his way.

This is idiocy.

So let Sam Fuld be super today, he can wear his cape, play a corner outfield position and not have 25 homers in 52 games,

Few players are able to have 25 homers in 52 games. Many players are able to hit well enough to play everyday, while also having an excellent glove, and these players should be celebrated. These players are not Sam Fuld.

Don't worry about the numbers because he has made it

Yeah Rays fans, you don't need Desmond Jennings or an upgrade for your team. You have a 29 year old journeyman left fielder. So ignore the quantifiable evidence that says there should be an easy upgrade over Fuld in left field, that quantifiable evidence doesn't win games. Hustle, heart and grit does. Look, Rays fans! Something shiny!

and he has made the most of it, with what he has within.

As has nearly every other baseball player in the majors, it is just their "most" in many cases is better than Fuld's "most."

And watching him do what he does tells us all that we can be super, if given just a little chance.

It also tells us the Rays will be replacing Fuld as their everyday left fielder, as soon as a better option appears. Because no matter what nickname he is given, he isn't super in most facets of playing baseball.

Doug Glanville, consider yourself bookmarked.


JimA said...

Thank you. You settled a mystery for me. My son and I took my grandson to the game that day and we could not figure out why he received a cape that said "Super Sam" on it. We never made the connection to Sam Fuld. We just figured it had something to do with a mascot, as they were hyped to the kids before the game.

Bengoodfella said...

Jim, that's what I am here for. I do think it is funny that you figured it had something to do with the mascot and not the left fielder.

I think that's pretty cool they gave out capes with Super Sam on it though. I bet the kids loved that. Whether it is necessarily true or not doesn't seem to matter to them probably.

JimA said...

Yeah, my 7 year old grandson knows Longoria and Upton, and has no idea who Sam Fuld is. He wore the cape for the whole game, though.