Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thinking Outside the Box: Not a Good Idea In Certain Situations

When is thinking outside the box a bad idea?

1. When you're on a spacewalk and your box holds all your air.
2. When you're on a dinghy in the middle of the Indian Ocean and your box is keeping you out of the shark-infested waters.
3. When you're Tom Brady and your box is already better looking than just about all the other boxes at the box factory.
4. When you've lost at the game of baseball for fifteen straight seasons so you start signing random guys from other continents who won a reality show about pitching.

Bucs sign two 20-year-old inexperienced pitchers from India

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates hope Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel really do have million-dollar arms.

I like how the verb in this sentence is "hope". The Pirates don't seem convinced at all that either of these guys have million dollar arms. Sucks to be a Pirates fan.

The two 20-year-old pitchers, neither of whom had picked up a baseball until earlier this year, signed free-agent contracts Monday with the Pirates. They are believed to be the first athletes from India to sign professional baseball contracts outside their country.

What about Chief Bender? What about Louis Sockalexis? What about Joba Chamberlain?

Is there a minimum salary for a free-agent contract? I would like to know exactly how much money the Pirates are wasting on two twenty-year olds who have never played baseball before.

Singh and Patel came to the United States six months ago after being the top finishers in an Indian reality TV show called the Million Dollar Arm that drew about 30,000 contestants. The show sought to find athletes who could throw strikes at 85 miles per hour or faster.

I wonder what the ratings were for that show. Also, I can't wait until ABC comes out with a wildly popular reality show called Million Dollar Leg, where a country full of arm-based sports players has to find contestants who will try to kick a ball at 50 miles an hour into a really big net, then go to Europe and fail at that professional sport. I think it'll be even more of a hit than my current project - resurrecting Yes, Dear. Also, soccer sucks.

While neither pitcher threw hard enough to earn the $1 million prize, Singh made $100,000 from the contest and Patel made $2,500, plus his trip to the United States.

So... what you're saying is... the Pirates signed both of these guys and neither of them can throw eighty-five miles an hour?

The contest was sponsored by a California sports management company that believed it could locate major league-worthy arms in a country of more than one billion. After working extensively with Southern California pitching coach Tom House since May, the pitchers staged a tryout in Tempe, Ariz., on Nov. 6 that was attended by 30 major league scouts.

I'm sure there are people in India who are physically capable of throwing a ball hard. As most baseball fans know, big muscles and strong players do not a ballplayer make.

Baseball scouts have to be the most anonymous people ever. Their names are as better hidden than Valerie Plame's!

Snap! Political joke!

"The Pirates are committed to creatively adding talent to our organization," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Monday. "By adding these two young men, the Pirates are pleased to not only add two prospects to our system but also hope to open a pathway to an untapped market. We are intrigued by Patel's arm strength and Singh's frame and potential."

I can picture this conversation on the phone here (fast-forward to about 2:05 if you're busy and don't appreciate good comedy):

Indian GM: Hey, we have some players here. Yo, Neal is that you?

Huntington: Yeah, yeah.. it's me.. Neal.

Indian GM: Yeah man, we just finished laying a beat-down on the Bombay Bombers. Let me go get Terishna --

Huntington: No no no, don't get Terry - listen, there are some guys going around in baseball uniforms but they're not REAL baseball players. They're about to rob a bunch of money from the Pittsburgh Pirates...

dan-bob: DON'T BE FOOLED.

Neither pitcher has taken the mound in a game situation, no doubt a first for a Pirates prospect. They have pitched in scrimmages against junior college competition.

Depending on how you define it, it wouldn't be hard to argue that no Pirates pitcher has taken the mound in a "game" situation since 1991.

Both threw the javelin in India, a country best known for producing cricket players, and neither the right-hander Patel nor the left-hander Singh had left his small village before coming to the United States. Singh was born in Bhadoni, Uttar Pradesh, and is the youngest of nine children. Patel is from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, and has four brothers and sisters.

I'd like to buy a vowel?

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Patel hit 90 mph on the radar gun during his tryout, and the 6-2, 195-pound Singh topped out at 84 mph. Each has thrown harder during workout sessions that weren't attended by scouts.

1. "They threw harder when nobody was looking" sounds like a lousy cop-out.

2. There must be at least 23,456 20-year-old Americans who can top out at 84 mph, and 12,345 20-year old Americans who can top out at 90 mph. But since the Pirates have spent 15 years failing to sort the good American players from the bad American players, they're probably like, fuck it, at least we're trying something different.

"Think of them as two Dominican kids," House told the scouts. "They're very raw. But I think this has a huge upside."

Except Dominican kids know the rules to, and can play, baseball.

When they first came to the United States and began playing catch, the pitchers were mystified by the concept of gloves and had to be taught not to try to catch the ball with their bare hands.

Baseball gloves made of cow! Cannot touch! This is a pretty low-brow joke; I am making the outrageous stereotypical assumtption that these two young men are practicing Hindus!

Good thing baseballs are made of horsehide!

Despite being more than raw, the pitchers were signed by well-known agent Jeff Borris, who was attracted by their potential after watching them work out at Southern Cal. Borris estimates they will need three to four years of minor league experience before becoming major league ready.

I guess Borris is just looking for something to do now that he's finally given up the charade of trying to get teams to sign Barry Bonds.

Patel and Singh are learning English, most of which they have picked up from watching ESPN's Baseball Tonight and by taking online classes.


They're learning English by watching BASEBALL TONIGHT? That has to be the second-worst idea ever, after the Hindenburg.

Chris Berman, Buck Showalter and John Kruk: licensed English teachers.

"These young men have improved a tremendous amount in their six-month exposure to baseball and we look forward to helping them continue to fulfill their promise," Huntington said.

Yeah, OK, NEAL. Instead of picking up random athletes from foreign countries, why don't you teach your organization how to find GOOD pitchers who already exist in this country?

The signings represent a shift in policy for the Pirates, who have mostly ignored non-traditional markets such as Asia for players.

Going back to my opening bit: sometimes, thinking outside the box is not a good idea.

Seeking out non-traditional sources of talent: not a bad idea, in principle.

Signing the winners of a reality tv show in India: stupid idea.


Chris W said...

chris berman isn't on BBTN

Angelo said...

1. you know what dan-bob? you suck. Just because you can't play a sport that requires real athleticism doesn't mean soccer sucks. Four fingers.
2. Without actually defending the move (because it does seem slightly retarded), I will say that I play softball with and against a bunch of Indian kids who have never thrown a baseball before, and don't understand the rules. And they are amazing. The math team here has like 5 Indian grad students and their softball team is basically unbeatable. Not the same as mlb, for sure, but it's in their genes I guess.

dan-bob said...

1. Soccer's sucking doesn't have anything to do with my inability to play sports which require athleticism...

Heck, you useta play basketball against me on a semi-regular basis in the recent past. Does basketball not require athleticism?

2. Small sample size. I concede that it might be "in their genes", though. I suggest science resolve this problem by identifying baseball-talent genes immediately.

As the resident scientist among our commenters, I nominate you for the job, Angelo!

Tonus said...

I'm sure two young kids who spent their whole lives in India will just have a SUPER time toiling in the US minor league system for four years!

Chris W said...

debates about whether soccer sucks are usually fruitful.

In the end, people change their minds and adopt other people's points of view on the matter

Angelo said...

I know you are typically very open minded chris w, so maybe I will try to convince you. dan-bob, who are you? I've played basketball with you before? As for the small sample size, if there are a billion Indian people, it shouldn't be too hard to get enough statistics.

Chris W said...

I like soccer.

dan-bob said...

Let's put aside the small differences and focus on the real problem here:

Not content with taking our technology jobs, Indians are taking our PROFESSIONAL SPORTS JOBS. The Pirates are starting what will undoubtedly be an avalanche of teams looking for cheap labor overseas.

I look to the Obama administration to protect U.S. interests.

Bengoodfella said...

I don't see the comparison to Dominican players that House made. They are 20 years old first off and second off they have never pitched in a game situation before. I guess they could be considered to Dominican 8 or 9 year olds who are getting ready to play their first year in slow pitch baseball, but other than that they are about 10 years behind where they need to be.

If I were a Pirates fan, and I thank God every night I am not, I would use this moment as a real opportunity to just hop over to another team or just quit watching baseball overall. I think when your favorite team signs 2 Indian 20 year olds who have never pitched in a game situation before, that gives you permission to cheer for another team.

CitizenX said...

I wonder why CLEVELAND didn't sign them.

A ahaha ha a hooo ho ho ho.

And I thought, MY jokes were bad. They were.

Bengoodfella said...

X, that was perhaps the funniest joke Woody Paige has never told.

Congrats on that. Though the joke did come to my mind, I did not have the balls to say it out loud.

CHart said...

First of all, Larry should change this to be dan-bob's "greatest hit". I really enjoyed reading it. Had me laughing more than once.

I think you guys might be overstating the importance of "game experience". Baseball isn't that complicated. What kind of experience do you think they need exactly?

99% of pitching knowledge, right here: #1. Throw the pitch your catcher asks you to throw, #2. If the ball comes back to you, throw it to first base. Yeah there are subtle things, but they can learn how to deal with backing up the catcher on plays at the plate in about a week.

So if these guys have some physical talent, why not? Minor league contracts aren't that big of a deal.

Seriously though, soccer is horrible.

Martin said...

Hey the Euro Cup 2008 was great. Of course the World Cup usually sucks every year. Soccer, where's it's more important not to lose then to win.

I say this even after playing for a decade. garrrrgh.

Chris W said...

Game Experience is overrated for pitchers. I'd agree, CHart, to an extent.

But these are guys who can throw "sorta" hard.

Maybe they have other pitches, but I haven't heard of them.

Game Experience is going to matter for things like fielding your position, bunting, holding runners on. But what's real important is that they're not pitchers. They don't pitch. They can throw...sort of hard.

This isn't a league for a one pitch pitcher, especially when that one pitch is a fastball that tops out at 90.

dan-bob said...

Part of me wonders:

Is this a Sidd Finch story?

cb said...

"When I was in the sixth grade I was a finalist in our school spelling bee. It was me against Raj Patel. And I misspelled, in front of the entire school, the word "failure."

JimA said...

"They are believed to be the first athletes from India to sign professional baseball contracts outside their country.

What about Chief Bender? What about Louis Sockalexis? What about Joba Chamberlain?"

What? They were born in India? As dumb as the idea of signing these two guys is, the humor (if that is what you were going for) is just as dumb.

Chris W said...

if you're confused as to whether the list of three American Indians was intended as a joke........well, you shouldn't be confused.

Was it funny? I don't know. But clearly it's a joke.

Angelo said...

it was funny

kclock said...

Can you imagine how crappy that reality TV show was? I read that it was signed on for another season, so I guess Indians really enjoy watching 12-15 contestants throw baseballs a distance of 60' 6" for an hour every week.

One of your finer works dan-bob, I actually enjoyed reading this article.

pnoles said...

Suprisingly, this is the only post we've had so far that has married the labels "pirates" and "people who dont understand how sports teams operate."

May they never be apart again......