Friday, July 22, 2011

5 comments This Just In: Peter Bourjos Is Fast, Probably Not Great at Baseball

Bill Plaschke wants us to know that Peter Bourjos is fast. This seems to be the only positive characteristic worth describing when it comes to Bourjos from Bill Plaschke's point of view. Plaschke also does his best to frame Pourjos as a baseball Peter Pan of sorts who hasn't quite grown up. He wants us to believe this is an admirable quality. So Bill and his ever-so-slight lisp will now write one sentence paragraphs desperately killing space in an effort to let us know just how fast Peter Bourjos truly is.

In the comments on Monday we were discussing the scrappiest players in the majors now that Lord Scrapstein Von Gritt has retired---I mean, refused to play if he can't start for a team. I submitted Peter Bourjos' name as one of the scrappiest players because he is so fast and he shows the correct amount of grit to performance required. See, a scrappy player can't be too good at baseball or else he isn't considered a scrappy player who gets the most out of his ability. I'm not sure why this is.

How fast is Peter Bourjos?

So fast he just took your sister's virginity and had a sandwich while you read this sentence?

(The sandwich will be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as we will later learn)

In the first at-bat of his life, he singled to center, caught the ball and tagged himself out.

Why Bill, that could never happen! Do explain further! Is this a true story?

True story. It was his T-ball debut, and he was accustomed to chasing down his own hits when playing at the park with his father. So when he knocked the ball into the gap, he sprinted into the outfield, picked it up, and ran it back to the infield.

That's some scrappy shit right there. I like how Plaschke says he "knocked the ball in the gap." This is T-ball. The kids out there are generally 4-8 years old. The entire field is a gap to them.

"I gave the ball to some kid on the other team and he was like, um..." said Bourjos.

"Um...I'm six years old, I don't get the irony of this. Can I go home and watch 'Star Wars' now?"

How fast is Peter Bourjos?

Oh, so we are doing this again huh? This is a one sentence paragraph that is a repeat from a previous one sentence paragraph. I say this just in case anyone thinks Bill Plaschke is an incredibly creative writer.

So fast that this little-known Angels center fielder has pulled up alongside that famous Dodgers center fielder as one of the two most exciting players in Southern California this summer.

This is measured on the Plaschke Excitement Scale 3001. Bill will watch a certain player's best ten plays and scream encouragement as he watches each play with a basin at his feet. At the end of the 10 highlights, whichever basin ends up with the most spittle from Bill slightly lisping and screaming is one of the most exciting players in Southern California. Just in case you were wondering how the two most exciting players in Southern California were determined.

Let's look at Peter Bourjos line as of the All-Star break to see how he and Matt Kemp are the two most exciting players in Southern California:

.272/.323/.397 with 79 strikeouts and 18 walks...but he does have 6 triples. This is one exciting player, especially if you lower your expectations for "an exciting player in Southern California" tremendously.

Here are some other non-exciting Anaheim Angels players...

Jered Weaver 11-4 with a 1.86 ERA, 0.912 WHIP and 199 ERA+
Dan Haren 10-5 with a 2.61 ERA, 0.953 WHIP and a 142 ERA+
Jordan Walden 20 saves with a 2.84 ERA

Despite the fact Weaver is the All-Star Game starter for the American League, he just isn't as exciting as a guy who is superfast and is better suited as a fourth outfielder. That's what Bill wants us to believe.

Actually, Bourjos isn't even the most exciting centerfielder on the Angels team. That would be top prospect Mike Trout. Of course actual performance doesn't matter to Bill Plaschke or else Howie Kendrick or one of the four pitchers on the Angels pitching staff (including Scott Downs) would be exciting players. But no, it is Peter Bourjos because he is fast, while these other players are just good at the game of baseball.

So fast that his game rhymes with the pronunciation of his last name — gorgeous

His game is not gorgeous. Unless someone finds a lot of beauty in a guy with leadoff hitter ability who manages to strikeout a lot and get on-base at a 32% clip.

He leads the league in highlight video catches. And he surely leads the league in causing a middle-aged columnist's daughters to scream.

So he's like a boy band member who plays baseball. I got it. This is irrelevant to his ability to play baseball. Jeff Francoeur had the ladies screaming for him because of his looks. A few years later in his career, he had both ladies and men screaming at him because he was terrible at the game of baseball.

Bourjos walked off the field, took off his cap and smiled into the crowd with messy black hair and the cherubic face of a 12-year-old who had just left an ice cream truck.

What's the deal with Plaschke writing about how Bourjos plays like a kid, talking about the sex appeal of Bourjos and then comparing Bourjos to a pre-teen with a cherubic face? This concerns me. There are other columnists who do this sort of things as well. Talk about how an athlete "plays the game like a kid."

At some point do some sports columnists develop a fascination with pre-teen boys playing baseball? Is that why Plaschke led off the story about Bourjos playing T-ball? I wonder if he asked for a T-ball team picture from Bourjos? If so, that's some creepy shit. Many players who seem to enjoy playing the game of baseball get compared to a pre-teen child playing the game of baseball, as if this is the highest form of a compliment an athlete can receive. Would Bill Plaschke rather be covering a Little League game rather than an Angels/Dodgers game? If so, why? To stare at the boys and how much fun they are having?

What if I wrote Abby Wambach played the game of soccer like a 12 year old girl? Then I mentioned it in another column how another female athlete played the game like a pre-teen girl and how Wambach had a doll face like a 12 year old girl would. At some point, you would wonder, "Does Ben want to watch a group of pre-teen girls play sports? If so, why?"

Among the thousands standing and cheering were my two daughters who were shrieking, "Who is that?"

I imagine both of Bill Plaschke's daughters don't have goatees nor a ever-so-slight lisp...though I guess I can't guarantee this.

I figured I should eventually get back down to Angel Stadium to find out.

Well naturally. It's not like you could spend this time writing a quality column.

I met Bourjos in an empty dugout Thursday afternoon for an interview that began with him thanking me.

Bourjos probably thanked Plaschke because he couldn't believe merely being fast, tickling Plaschke's pre-teen fetish and having a low OBP could get him such attention.

I explained to him that it is Angel fans who are having fun, especially all those young women who congregate on the field-level seats before the game to cheer Bourjos while he stretches, girls holding up signs such as, "You Have My Dad's Permission To Marry Me!"

How cute!

Just once, I'd like for a baseball player to take a fan up on this offer. I would like to see the player accept the women's proposal and move all of his stuff into her house the next day and then start helping her plan their wedding. The player should just be a general pest around the house and leave all of his clothes and other stuff everywhere and have his friends over after games to make her life pretty much a living Hell. That'll teach her to make random marriage proposals. I think I would pay to see this happen. Maybe then the people who make the cutesy "Marry Me" signs will think twice before bringing into the stadium. Probably not though.

Not really. Bourjos has a chance to one day become one of the symbols of baseball's post-steroid era, a sandlot kid who actually looks and acts like a kid.

I am 17% sure Bill Plaschke has a pre-teen boy fetish. Stop saying he plays like a kid. It's stupid and nonsensical. Also, it really is becoming creepy to me. I know the whole idea behind this thought is kids play the game just for the fun and it is pure and all of that crap. But, Peter Bourjos is a grown man who gets paid to play baseball. Stop comparing him to child for kicks.

I also greatly dislike all of this "symbol of baseball's post-steroid era crap" for players who just try really, really hard. The best symbol of baseball's post-steroid era are the following players:

Albert Pujols
Prince Fielder
Dustin Pedroia
Kevin Youkilis
Ryan Howard
Carl Crawford
Evan Longoria
Ryan Braun
Josh Hamilton
Matt Kemp
Troy Tulowitzki
Andrew McCutchen
Adrian Gonzalez
Brian McCann
Mike Stanton
Jose Bautista
Jay Bruce
Joey Votto
Mark Teixeira
Robinson Cano

These are all batters who hit the baseball really well and haven't been linked to steroids. These are the players who are the model for the post-steroid era. Not Sam Fuld. Not Peter Bourjos. Not any player who seems to try really hard, but players who put up great offensive numbers and haven't been linked to steroids.

How about Howie Kendrick? He plays for the Anaheim Angels. Why isn't he exciting to watch? Why isn't he a model for the post-steroid era?

He is a baseball junkie who literally lives across the street from the Anaheim stadium. His pregame meal includes a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.

Does he drink milk with his peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I bet he does. Then he has macaroni and cheese as a snack between innings, not just any macaroni and cheese, but the special kids size servings that are in the shape of Toy Story 3 characters or Lightning McQueen. Then he stares at the "Fresh Beat Band" poster in his locker.

Are we sure Peter Bourjos isn't mentally handicapped? The only grown men I know that act like children are either emotionally stunted men or men who have some sort of mental handicap that doesn't allow them to function as an adult in society. Either way, I'm still uncomfortable with Bill Plaschke's (and other sportswriters) fetish that involves celebrating a player who has child-like qualities. It's creepy and if I were Peter Bourjos I would believe it to be a bit demeaning as well.

His destination on a recent day off in Southern California? Where else? Disneyland.

Where else? How about a place adults go...or at least a place adults without children may go? Disneyland is great, but the fact Peter Bourjos goes to Disneyland in his spare time has little to nothing to do with his ability to play baseball nor does it have much to do with how he plays the game of baseball. It does meet Bill Plaschke's need to make Bourjos seem like a child though.

Since his recall to the major leagues last August, it is the Angels who have been thankful, for an energy and athleticism reminiscent of past Angels center fielders Gary Pettis and Devon White.

I think I know what will make the Angels even more thankful. The fact Mike Trout has now been called up to the majors and he brings the ability to be very, very good at baseball to the Angels. Not that they need skill on the roster any more than energy of course.

"There have been times where I've been so focused on watching him chase down a ball, I realize I'm not standing in the right place," said first baseman Mark Trumbo, grinning.

One time Trumbo was watching Bourjos chase down a fly ball and realized he was standing in the women's bathroom. Bourjos has that type of ability. Like a child. Like a kid. Like a little kid playing on a swing, his hair waving in the wind, a big smile on his face, his small little hands gripping the swing. It's almost too much for Bill Plaschke to handle.

It's not always good, as Bourjos left the field with an apparent hamstring injury Thursday after an eighth-inning RBI double against the Seattle Mariners. He hurt himself after stopping suddenly between second and third base, the right decision also proving to be a painful one, the roaring crowd suddenly silenced.

Shit! Now we have to call up the best minor league player, Mike Trout! What are we going to do if he comes on the roster and only provides home runs and RBI's? We need to teach him to have energy and run really fast so he can learn to be one of the two most exciting players in Los Angeles. What a disaster!

The Angels are hoping the injury isn't serious, because they are serious about chasing a championship with a guy who used to practice wild catches while flying off a diving board into swimming pool.

Wow, that is some super specific criteria for what the Angels are looking for in a player to help them chase a championship. Actually...that's perfect. Because my cousin Tim used to do that off diving boards as well. He loves to practice wild catches off the diving board, so maybe the Angels could give him a tryout to replace Bourjos. He doesn't jump off the diving board and make wild catches like a little kid, which could be a huge drawback in the eyes of the Angels.

The biggest problem in Bourjos' game is the game itself.

Read that again. We have gone 75% of this column with how great Bourjos is for the Angels and how the Angels can't be serious about chasing a championship with him not being healthy. Then it turns out the biggest problem with Bourjos is that he isn't a good baseball player. It's like my biggest weakness when it comes to playing in the NBA is that I am not good enough to play in the NBA. Otherwise, I'm golden.

It requires more than catching and running. It also requires hitting.

But...he plays like a kid. Child-like. Disneyland. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Diving boards. Kid. Child. Fast. Bengoodfella sad.

Entering Thursday, Bourjos had a flailing career on-base percentage of .286 with 119 strikeouts and just 24 walks.

Yet according to Plaschke, the Angels are serious about trying to get a championship with him in the lineup. Yet, it seems his playing everyday with Vernon Wells in the lineup would do nothing but hurt the Angels chances at a championship. So everything Bill has told us so far while fawning over Bourjos seems to be pretty incorrect. Bourjos is fast, but is he really THAT important to the Angels? This is why this is bad journalism. It's like journalistic fluff piece self-pleasure. Plaschke writes and writes, but in the end this is just a fluff piece. It's just a useless piece of writing.

For him to maximize his Angels career, he has to eventually bat leadoff, but those numbers make that impossible.

So Bourjos is a scrapper who doesn't even get the most out of his talent? David Eckstein and Darin Erstad laugh in your face. Faker.

So Bourjos is a fast guy who doesn't get on-base and can't walk enough to hit leadoff, but also doesn't have enough power to hit anywhere in the middle of the order? Sounds like it is a real shame he got injured and the Angels had to call up Mike Trout.

"I know this, and I'm working on it all the time," he said. "Every day, shortening my swing, being more selective, I'll just keep working."

The joy in his voice makes him difficult to doubt.

That's why you don't listen to the joy in his voice and see the results on the field. We can't do that, it may ruin the illusion Plaschke has tried to create.

The serenity in his father's voice confirms it.

Oh dear God. Bourjos may very well improve because he is only 24 years old, but it's just really weird to talk about the joy in Bourjos voice and the serenity in his father's voice. I don't know why, it just is. I wonder if Plaschke has conversations with other sportswriters and talks about a player's child-like qualities...

(Bill Plaschke calling T.J. Simers) "You know T.J., that Peter Bourjos has a cherubic face and the cutest little hands."

(T.J. Simers sitting on Marcus Thames' front lawn) "I don't know much about Bourjos, but (starts yelling in the direction of Thames who is getting in his car) I KNOW MARCUS THAMES SUCKS!"

(Plaschke) "It is just like Bourjos is so fast, like a kid. A little blonde-haired kid that doesn't care about anything, but having fun and playing the game. It's just inspiri---"


(Plaschke) "Sounds like you are having real trouble T.J. Everything okay?"

(Simers) "Yeah, I just approached Marcus Thames to do an interview and he refused again. All I did was tell him how bad he sucked, what's his problem?"

(Plaschke) "Thames doesn't play like a little boy. I doubt Thames was good at T-ball too. His little feet probably didn't run around the bases with his 6 year old tongue hanging out as he ran---"


(Plaschke) "Kids? There are kids there?" (gets in his car and drives to Marcus Thames house while still talking on the phone with Simers)

(Simers talking to Plaschke en route) "Bill, we have been concerned about you for a while. You talk about children way too much and how grown men play the game like children."

(Plaschke) "But, Bourjos plays the game like a kid and eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, like a child does. It's precious and cute to see a man act like a kid. It makes you want to dress him up like a 10 year old boy and---"

(Simers seeing Plaschke's car pulling up to the Thames house) "Bill, I am calling the police. I can see from here you aren't wearing a shirt. Why not? You talk about players playing like children way too much and it concerns everyone. HEY MRS. THAMES, YOUR HUSBAND CAN'T FIELD A BASEBALL WELL ENOUGH TO PLAY ON A CONSISTENT BASIS! CAN HE FIELD HIS POSITION IN BED? PROBABLY NOT! ONE INTERVIEW IS ALL I WANT. BE FAIR TO ME."

(Plaschke starts crying) "I want to watch men play like kids. It just isn't fair more players don't play like children. I want to go back to junior high school and not get chosen last in softball...just I could have played like I was a child."

(Simers calls the police to pick up Plaschke and follows the Thames family to the grocery store while yelling out the window) "HEY THAMES, JUAN RIVERA REPLACED YOU! ASSHOLE! ONE INTERVIEW IS ALL I ASK AND YOU WON'T DO IT. WHY?"

"The thing that I like most about Pete's game is how he handles failure," said Chris.

I guess once you've gotten used to the failure, it becomes easier to handle. Rim shot!

"To him, every day is a new day, a new challenge, a chance to start over again."

Like a child. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Thus supplying the definition of fast forward.

Umm, no. That's not the definition of fast forward. The definition of fast forward in this context is "a rapidly changing situation or series of events."

This quote is actually supplying an example of a tired cliche. Much like talking about a player and how he "plays the game like a kid" and overstating a player's importance to a team because the fans like him are also tired cliches.


mconstant42 said...

Plaschke is an idiot and definitely comes off as somewhat as a creep here, but I need to defend Peter Bourjos a little bit. .323 isn't a great OBP, but you must remember offense is down. The AL average is only .320. His batting average is decent and while his slugging is low, it's also basically league average as well (.397) On top of that, he is fast, although he hasn't made it count in stolen bases stats yet with only 10 steals while being caught 4 times. However, his greatest asset is his defense. He leads all center fielders in UZR (and is 9th best in UZR of all players period.) I don't know much about defensive stats but he is for sure an elite defender. Mix that with league average offense and he is certainly a valuable player. Maybe not an ideal leadoff hitter, but most teams would be happy having a guy like him in center.

Man, I hate agreeing with Bill Plaschke on things.

your favourite sun said...

Well, you're not really agreeing with Plaschke since Plaschke says Bourjos has a "problem" with "the game itself." You actually illustrated that Plaschke missed a chance to rate Bourjos properly as a solid player, choosing instead to label him as a lousy hitter whose major contribution to the world is his cherubic face.

Bengoodfella said...

mconstant42, maybe I should have focused more on his creepiness and need to describe how good looking Bourjos is. You make good points and possibly I went overboard in saying he wasn't good at baseball. That's what I get for writing the title before I wrote the post. Sadly, my favorite team would probably like him CF, so maybe I have no point.

I still like how Plaschke described his face, how he makes girls scream, and then says Bourjos has a problem with the game itself. I should have focused more on Bourjos defense and defended him a bit for that. I enjoyed how Plaschke focused on Bourjos energy and all the other crap, the mentioned he wasn't great at baseball. Thought it was an interesting way to do a fluff piece. Of course you proved that "not great at baseball" thing wrong.

Sun, I think maybe you should have written my post for me. Since it was a fluff piece I didn't get why Plaschke focused on Bourjos' boy band credentials. I feel like it came off more as an ode to a cute guy.

Anonymous said...

Ben I think this is my new all-time favorite post here. Your ongoing theme about Plaschke being obsessed with little boys was hysterical. I will never look at Plaschke the same way again. And then to top it off with the Thames stuff was just an amazing finish. Man, wtf is wrong with these people? I think Plaschke might be a member of NAMBLA. And Simers is just a really huge dick.

Also, regardless of whether or not you didn't give Bourjos enough credit for his decent value this year, it is still insane for Plaschke to say that he is the face of baseball's post-steroids era. Your list of superior players pretty much hammers home that point, especially since most of those players have been awesome for multiple years. Who knows if Borujos is even going to be around or a starter in a few years. How can a guy like Bourjos be the face of baseball when it is only his first year as a starter and the Angels already have the best minor league prospect called up to play his position?

And I thought is was strange for Plaschke to say that Borujos was the face of a post drug baseball era but then refer to him as a "junkie" a little later on. Seems like a poor choice of words.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, what is funny is Plaschke and Simers (rumored) don't like each other, so I doubt my skit was accurate in their relationship. They probably aren't that close.

It was really weird to hear him talk about children and how a grown man is like a child. I have found it weird how sportswriters always want to compare players to a young child. It's unfortunate to read sometimes and a little weird!

Thanks for liking the post. I completely agree there is no way Bourjos is the face of baseball at this point. Plaschke was completely wrong in trying to indicate he won't be. Bourjos probably is a better player than I gave him credit for, but if Mike Trout is the player he is supposed to be, Bourjos may not be starting too long.

I didn't catch that part a/b calling him a "junkie" and then talk a/b how he is the face of the post-steroid era.

I'm surprised Simers didn't do a follow-up talk a/b Thames once he got released. He's just a dick that way.