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Thread: Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

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    Go Reds Go! UKFlounder's Avatar
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    Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

    I really enjoyed this read about he just "likes" Mike Jacobs despite the numbers or scouting reports. It's a really enjoyable read. I wish I had players whom I just liked for no real apparent reason at all.

    (EDIT: Yep - I screwed up the subject line. Sorry to "Mike" Jacobs. )

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...obs/index.html

    I think everyone here knows how I feel about Mike Jacobs. It's fair to say that Jacobs not only has a few baseball traits that drive me mad, but he is that actual archetype of a player I cannot stand. He doesn't walk or get on base. He's utterly limited defensively. He doesn't help you on the bases when he actually gets there. He's next to worthless against lefties. He strikes out a lot. A lot. When the Kansas City Royals traded for him this offseason, well, that was my fourth-least favorite move by general manager Dayton Moore.*

    *The first three were signing reliever Kyle Farnsworth.

    It wasn't that I thought the Royals gave up too much to get Jacobs -- they traded away Leo Nunez, a nice but replaceable middle reliever. So no, it wasn't that. What bugged me was that Jacobs seemed to me exactly the sort of player the Royals did not need and should not get: A no-walk first baseman who is a defensive liability and is getting paid a not-insubstantial $3.25 million. Nothing about that move made sense to me, nothing, not with Moore finally talking sense about improving the team's on-base percentage, not with the the Royals already having a young left-handed-hitting first base prospect -- Kila Ka'aihue -- who had a massive minor league season and who DOES walk and DOES play better defense than Jacobs and DOES NOT cost more than league minimum.

    So, no, I did not like the move to get Jacobs, and I still do not like the move to get Jacobs, and so on.

    But here's the kick in the head.

    I think my new favorite player on the Kansas City Royals is Mike Jacobs.

    * * *

    I remember the first time I told Bill James that Duane Kuiper was my favorite player growing up. He was amused by this, and he immediate pulled out his new Baseball Abstract and looked in the index to find what he had said about Kuiper. He found my man listed in two places:

    Page 555: In the Buddy Bell section (Buddy, another hero, ranked as the 19th-best third baseman ever), Bill pointed out that Buddy was the worst-ever percentage base-stealer (55 for 134, an abysmal 41 percent). And Duane Kuiper was second-worst (52 for 123).

    Page 690: Duane had a quote about Rico Carty (59th-ranked left fielder) in Terry Pluto's Curse of Rocky Colavito. The quote: "Rico always played with his wallet in his back pocket. He didn't trust the valuables box in the dressing room. ... besides, he never slid, so it wasn't like something would happen."

    Bill seemed just a touch sheepish about my favorite all-time baseball player getting only two rather haphazard mentions in his book, but more than that he had trouble understanding why Duane Kuiper was my favorite player in the first place. Bill's favorite players -- like Amos Otis and Craig Biggio -- always seemed so logical for him. Otis was the perfect Bill James player: Underrated, independent, brilliant at all parts of the game, unyielding, misunderstood. And Biggio was the perfect Bill James player: Underrated, brilliant at all parts of the game, beautiful to the discerning eye.

    But Duane ... I never held any illusions that Duane Kuiper was somehow unappreciated. He was probably appreciated fairly. I never argued that he was better that anyone thought. Even though I wanted to be just like him, I never thought he was as good as Joe Morgan or Willie Randolph or Frank White or Lou Whitaker ... He was my favorite player because he was my favorite player. That's all. It came from someplace deeper than logic. As the short kid with thick glasses growing up in Cleveland, I was not blinded to his weaknesses or my own. We both were doing the best that we could.

    So if I had to guess at why I have this sudden and rather jolting admiration for Mike Jacobs, it probably has something to do with that, something emotional. It isn't that Jacobs is somehow a better player than I thought he was: He was good all spring and he's had a nice start to the season -- .282, four homers, 10 RBIs -- but I suspect he's just about the same as I expected, a free-swinger who will hit some mistakes out of the park, will punch up a .320 or so on-base percentage, will struggle defensively. My new feelings about Jacobs don't have anything to do with the fact that he seems a good guy, though he does seem to be a good guy and other players on the team seem to like him a lot. My new feelings do not revolve around the fact that when you go to his name on the Internet, you come to a site featuring the lead guitarist from a band called Evil Jake. This isn't even about one of my favorite baseball stories -- Jacobs playing a central character -- when the Florida Marlins decided to give out Jacobs' T-shirts on Jewish Heritage Day only to find out that Jacobs isn't Jewish.*

    *The reason I love that story so much is that the Marlins immediately tried to talk their way out of it by saying, "Oh, no, those are two separate promotions." Yeah. Sure they were. They just happened to decide to give away the T-shirt of a first-year Marlins player with a Jewish-sounding name on Jewish Heritage Day.

    No. The reason I have come to like Jacobs and to root for him ... well, I guess it started on what was supposed to be Opening Day in Chicago. The game was snowed-out, and so the Royals had a voluntary workout. Jacobs was there, and it was cold, it was windy, few players were outside. He went to home plate even though there was no pitcher. He dug into the batter's box. He swung at an imaginary pitch. And he hit an imaginary home run. He ran around the bases with his arm in the air, like Tom Berenger in Major League. Now, as someone who loves baseball and Major League and the ridiculous, I can't help but appreciate that.

    And so, I started watching Jacobs a bit more closely. And suddenly, involuntarily, I found myself rooting for him. Like I said up top, I don't know exactly why. But I think it's because of this: There's a certain thrill in watching a Mike Jacobs at-bat. He seems -- and I have to say "seems" because I have never asked him about this -- he seems to understand exactly what's happening around him. There's something in his body language, in the joy he seems to get out of baseball, in the way he holds his bat ... he seems to be saying to the pitcher:

    "You know, I know, everyone here knows that I have some holes in my swing. And you know, I know, everyone here knows where those holes are located. I'm not going to hit the good fastball up and in. I'm not going to hit the sharp breaking ball. I'll probably chase a pitch when behind in the count -- let's face it, I can't really help myself, those pitches really look good. So, yeah, let's be perfectly honest here: If you throw good pitches, you're probably going to strike me out. And if you're left-handed, you don't even need to throw especially good pitches, you're probably going to get me.

    "But ...

    "Actually, BUT -- it's a big BUT ...

    "But if you make a mistake, I'm going to freaking hit the ball 700 miles."

    Maybe this is all just made up in my mind. I don't think so -- I think this is really the Mike Jacobs attitude. And anyway, it doesn't matter, that's what I see. When Bruce Springsteen sings The Wrestler, I hear him sing "Have you ever seen a scarecrow in a field with nothing but dust and weeds?/If you've ever seen that scarecrow then you've seen me." Those aren't the precise lyrics, but I've decided that I don't care, that's what I hear. We have to be allowed to interpret the game; that's what's fun about being a fan.

    And so, I have come to see every Mike Jacobs at-bat as a struggle against the odds. And I love it. I have started counting down batters to when he comes to the plate. I have come to really zone in when he steps in there; I like watching every part of his at-bats, even the strikeouts. I guess if I could explain it another way: I used to love, love, love a boxer named Earnie Shavers. My favorite non-Ali fighter. Hardest puncher I ever saw -- he was a lot like the young Mike Tyson. Knocked out Ron Lyle in the first round. Knocked out Ken Norton in the first round. Knocked out Jimmy Ellis with one punch (Ellis had him in trouble seconds early ... you can go to 1:06 if you just want to see the punch):
    Last edited by UKFlounder; 04-21-2009 at 07:21 AM.

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  3. #2
    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

    Thanks for posting that, UKFlounder. That's one of the best articles I've ever read. I'd like to see that guy write a book.

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    My clutch is broken RichRed's Avatar
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    Re: Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

    Quote Originally Posted by camisadelgolf View Post
    Thanks for posting that, UKFlounder. That's one of the best articles I've ever read. I'd like to see that guy write a book.
    http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Baseball-...0335774&sr=1-1

    http://www.amazon.com/Machine-Legend...0335774&sr=1-2

    The Soul of Baseball is excellent and I can't wait to read The Machine.
    "I can make all the stadiums rock."
    -Air Supply

  5. #4
    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

    Thanks, RichRed. I'll check them out.

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    Re: Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

    Most know, though I'm sure some dont, but Joe was a columnist with the Cincinnati Post for a few years in the 90's.

    Sure wish we could have him back.

  7. #6
    Waitin til next year bucksfan2's Avatar
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    Re: Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

    Not a huge fan of Posnanski's articles because they tend to be long and very indepth. But I loved that one. Some guys, whether you like them or not, are able to write great human interest stories. Pos does that with this article.

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    Re: Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

    It's great that Posnanski can fully understand a player's quantitative deficiencies and still anoint that player as his current favorite.
    "Baseball is a very, very complex business. It's more of a people business than most businesses." - Bob Castellini

  9. #8
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

    Frankly, I'm surprised JoePoz left his mother's baseball long enough to watch a game.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  10. #9
    ShadezNation ramp101's Avatar
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    Re: Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

    makes me somewhat miss Jake at first base

    love the part about him hitting hit 700 freakin miles on a mistake
    woo woo woo, you know it

  11. #10
    One and a half men Patrick Bateman's Avatar
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    Re: Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    Not a huge fan of Posnanski's articles because they tend to be long and very indepth.
    My new goal in life is to become a writer that's main criticism is being "very indepth"

  12. #11
    Member Sea Ray's Avatar
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    Re: Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

    *The first three were signing reliever Kyle Farnsworth.
    Farnsworth is already 0-3. That's pretty tough to do this early as a reliever.

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    Moderator RedlegJake's Avatar
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    Re: Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    Not a huge fan of Posnanski's articles because they tend to be long and very indepth. But I loved that one. Some guys, whether you like them or not, are able to write great human interest stories. Pos does that with this article.
    That has to be the most complimentary criticism a writer ever got. And it's exactly the reason I love reading Poz in the Star.

  14. #13
    Start the Reactor! *BaseClogger*'s Avatar
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    Re: Good Joe Posnanski article on Mike Jacobs

    Joe Posnanski is the best baseball writer out there for my dollar...
    "On-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage," Baker said. "Clogging up the bases isn't that great to me."


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