October 20, 2010

Operation Scout-A-Lot

Derek Bell, 1992 Upper Deck "Scouting Report"

In the olden days, before computers and before the film “The Scout” -- starring Dudley Do-Right and Michael Rappaport -- exposed the complex inner-workings of the baseball establishment, rendering them obsolete, scouting reports were essential, and were the lifeblood of the industry. And there was one way and one way only to complete a scouting report correctly.

First, the assigned scout would travel to go watch a specific player. From the stands, and dressed in a janitor’s uniform so as not to be noticed, the scout would furiously jot down notes on flashcards, detailing the player’s performance and also his own gut instincts. (Ex. “Johnson leads off the 2nd with a single. My gut tells me that he likes cats better than dogs, but he’s scared to admit it. And that he’s good at hitting singles.”) After the game, the scout would approach the player, befriend him in a heterosexual manner, and then, using a Polaroid camera, take that player’s picture.

Upon his return to the organization for which he works, the scout would consolidate most of his flashcard notes onto one, better flashcard, using a complex rating system of 1-5, with “5” being the best. The scout would then sit as his trusty typewriter and type a quick summary of the player’s abilities as well as his own humble opinions. Finally, the scout would grab a clipboard, attach all of this information to it, and leave it in the manager’s office. The manager would review the report, makes notes of his own, if he so chose, with the pen provided by the scout, and then leave the clipboard in the general manager’s office. The general manager would review it, and then take a four-day weekend at Martha’s Vineyard for the purpose of considering whether or not he should send the scout out to watch the player again.

The entire process took a few years to complete, by which point the player in question was now a father of three and a veteran of a different major league ballclub. Thankfully, this card harkens back to those good ol’ days, when doing something meant something. Granted, Derek Bell had obviously already made it to the big leagues, but this scouting report is still useful even after the fact:

Note that the scout in question expects Derek Bell’s batting average to go up two whole rating points (!), based on the fact that two minor league batting titles clearly demonstrate Bell has the ability to hit for average. And not only is batting average super-duper-calafradgalistically important, but Bell would prove the scout right by hitting .334 for the Astros in 1995. The scouts’ gut instincts just didn’t inform him that Derek Bell would be on his third team by the time his average came around, because Derek Bell was kinda crazy.

Derek Bell will also, according to this scout, eventually get faster -- as we all do as we get older -- and will also get twice as better at fielding for reasons that are not specified. His skill at having an arm however, will remain at “3,” because, I mean, what do you want from a Derek Bell? God gave him a 3 arm, and that’s that.

Unfortunately for all involved, scouts had yet to develop a skill for “having the humbleness to compete for a job like everybody else after a season in which you hit .173, and not publicly declaring that you are shutting yourself down until an organization blindly gives you a roster spot based on your overall history of being a mediocre player and a crazy person.” For that, he would have received a “1.” Probably. I’m no scout though.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Derek Bell ever hung out with Ken Caminiti