Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fukudome has communicable disease, walkitis spreads among Cubs players

When an article opens with a joke about Moneyball, you know it's going to be good. Peter Bernstein recently wrote a piece for ESPN The Magazine about the Cubs and walking. Despite flattering a Moneyball-type player, the article is full of silliness.

He surmises that the arrival of Kosuke Fukudome has magically made the Cubs first in OBP and third in walks. Did I mention it's like twenty games into the season?

I am pretty sure Fukudome would have to walk like 300 times to negate Juan Pierre's existence on the team.

Now, the Cubs are third in walks, first in OBP, first in the standings, and a game short of the best record in baseball.

How much can be attributed to the arrival of Kosuke Fukodome?

I don't know - none would be my first guess though. Well not none, but unless he has something like over 50 percent of the teams walks (to date he has 17/94 or 5.5%), I would say not that much.

Probably a lot.

OK. Probably not but let's hear the explanation.

Fukodome leads the team in walks with 16 and leads the league in pitches per plate appearance.

Fine and dandy. The guy seems like a good player.

He is a human souvenir machine. His style rubs off.

What? What in God's name is a souvenir machine? Is Ryan Theriot a soda machine? A quick Google search of "souvenir machine" comes up with a lot of results about those machines that flatten pennies with the state bird of Wyoming or something. Maybe flattened pennies are really patient at the plate.

And his style rubbing off? I know what you're trying to say Bernstein - that Fukudome's play style is successful and other Cubs may learn from it - but here's what image your sentence conjures up:

Derek Lee: "Hey Alfonso, did you see Kos-dog's new hat? That feather is pretty boss."
Soriano: "Totally agree. I loved his corduroy pants he was wearing the other day. That guys style is really rubbing off on me."
Lee: "He also made me a really neat flattened penny with the Georgia state seal on it for $1.25 the other day."
Soriano: "Awesome. That guy is a souvenir machine!"

Aramis Ramirez, whose career high in walks is all of 50 is on pace for 104.

I can assure you this is no fault of Ramirez. Nope. Fukudome, simply by walking a lot himself, has spread his influenza-like ability to walk to his teammates.

May I also request the removal of the phrase "on pace for ..." from the hacky sports writer pantheon? Micheal Bourn is on pace to steal over 90 bases, Pat "The Bat" Burrell is on pace for 60+ home runs and Xavier Nady is on pace to drive in 120 runs. I guarantee that not one of those things will happen. None of that stuff matters because we are 1/8 of the way through the season.

Geovany Soto is on the same pace, and hopes to someday walk in a t-ball game.

What. The. Hell. Walk in a t-ball game? Would that be the epitome of walkdom? How about "hopes to walk in the game winning run someday?" And does he really hope that? Did you ask him?

But the circle is not yet complete. Soon Alfonso Soriano returns. He appears destined for the lead-off spot, from which he registered all of 31 walks last season.

Maybe he got his flu shots.

Perhaps Sweet Lou will move Fonzie down in the line-up, where he can drive in his suddenly walk-addicted teammates.

*in a dark alley behind Wrigley*
Lee: "Hey man, you got the stuff?"
Fukudome: "Yeah. You got the money?"
Lee: "..."
Fukudome: "Sorry buddy, no money no walks."
Lee: "But I need it! I just have to get through today. I'll do anything!"
Fukudome: "Anything...?"

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