April 18, 2012

Ice Settles Down

Gerald Williams, 1991 Fleer "Prospects"

I was very excited about Gerald Williams when I was a kid. When your favorite player is a mustachioed Caucasian from Indiana, it’s somewhat refreshing when a young, fast African American player emerges to join him on your favorite team. I was confident they would become best friends and lead the Yankees to seven straight World Series titles, which I’m pretty sure is exactly what happened.



“Ice” is an experienced player

For someone who was unaware that Gerald Williams’ nickname was “Ice,” I began this tidbit confused. But then I settled in and realized, “Oh, ‘Ice’ must be Gerald Williams, the person on this baseball card.” Being able to use context like that is something I learned in school. Often I feel sorry for people who did not take their education seriously, and who thus cannot utilize said education in real life situations such as this.

Anyway, once I settled in, I realized something else: This card of part of Fleer’s “Prospects” series. What then does it mean to say that someone who, literally, has played zero major league baseball games is an “experienced player?” How far back are we taking this “experience” thing? I’m pretty sure most of these guys played Little League. If they’re saying he’s an experienced minor league player—I think that’s what they’re saying; Williams was a September call-up at 25—that’s not necessarily a good thing, and should probably not be highlighted.

who has developed into a clone of Yankees’ speedy outfielder Roberto Kelly

Yankees Management: Gerald, c’mere. We like how you’re playing. But here’s what we want you to do: Develop yourself into a clone of our speedy outfielder Roberto Kelly.

Williams: Why … because I’m black?

Mngmnt: What? Pfft. No! You’re black? We honestly didn’t even notice. We say Roberto Kelly because you’re both fast, and play the outfield, and, uh … are on the Yankees and stuff.

Williams: Okaaay. But I’m already black and fast and play outfield for the Yankees. So I should just keep doing what I’m doing?

Mngmnt: Yes. Then we’ll have TWO Roberto Kellys, and we can trade one of them for Paul O’Neill and still have a Roberto Kelly! Mmmwhhaaahahahahahahah!!!

Williams: Was I supposed to hear that?

Mngmnt: What? Did we say that out loud? Just pretend we never had this conversation, okay, Roberto? (wink)

Okay, but in what other ways has Gerald Williams adjusted his game in order to attain a Roberto Kellyian level of success?

He has settled his swing down

I have heard many nonsensical baseball clich├ęs in my day, but “settle his swing down” may just take the cake. How does one accomplish this?

Gerald Williams: Swings and misses.

Hitting instructor Tom Emanski: Whoa, whoa! Slow down there, Ice!

Williams: Confused.

Emanski: You’re swinging too fast! Why do you think this is, “fastswingball?!” It’s not. It’s called baseball. And you’re never going to get on “base” (does air quotes) swinging like that. Why don’t cha try and settle that swing down a bit. Really, give it a try!

Williams: Pitch comes, Williams swings very slowly, pitch is caught, thrown back to pitcher, Williams now midway through his swing, pitcher throws again, ball hits bat, goes over fence.

Now, many of you may be wondering: How did the career of Gerald Williams turn out? Well, let’s just say it was a roller coaster. For example, his Wikipedia page includes the word “miserable” three times as it directly relates to his performance, and in between all that he was the Tampa Bay Rays Player of the Year in 2000, which is equally a highlight for Williams and a lowlight for the Tampa Bay organization as a whole. So, I hope that sentence right there gave an accurate snapshot of the career one man worked really, really hard to achieve.

What else?

For baseball shoes, Williams wore only hi-top Nikes during his professional career once he switched to them from lo-cut Nikes in 1992.

When you go to bed tonight, rest easy knowing now that baseball player Gerald Williams wore only hi-top Nikes from 1992 on. And remember that the Internet, not children, is our greatest resource.

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