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Soup of This Day #207: Don’t Know What A Slide Rule Is For

July 4, 2012

Bluefin trevally and anchovies
A school of bluefin trevally eyeing off a school of anchovies. A shoal of fish is a group moving in disharmony, like last September’s Red Sox, whereas a school of fish is a group moving in the same direction, like October 2004’s Red Sox. These trevally and anchovies are schooling in the direction of a marinara pizza – Photo: Bruno de Giusti, 2006. Bruno de Giusti is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

When Longworth72 was at school his report cards almost always read something along the theme of:

‘Longworth72 is talented but needs to apply himself more. He is easily distracted.’

This type of remark resulted even if I got an A+, which I had assumed was the best I could do and therefore was indicative of me getting my level of application spot on.

In truth however those comments were most often, if not always, accurate, although I couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that once in a while the teacher was just phoning it in – I always hoped that just the 1 time I’d see something a little more in tune with how I rated my achievements. Something like:

‘Longworth72 got a B+ this term. Which is actually better than we thought he could do given his many justifiable distractions, such as his desperate pursuit of a date for the School Ball and his having to learn how to shave. Well done that lad there.’

But alas no, my teachers all seemed to have a tinge of disappointment with me when it came to my report card.

Which is a nice point to segue across on because this post is a half-term report. Not for me, although I think I’m travelling ok at the moment thank you – Rather it’s for the Boston Red Sox, who have played their 81st game of the season this morning, completing exactly 50% of their regular season duties for 2012. And because the bell-curve plays a part in grading I’ve also thrown in my assessment of the other outfits in the American League (AL) East.

To the Boston Red Sox 1st and this is a talented class. But they need to apply themselves more. They are easily distracted.

Put your hand up if you saw that coming. You did? Good work there then although I would suggest that this is a common report card for the Red Sox who, it has to be said, can be a bunch of idiots at times.

That said, there are many things to like: The new kids in class have done well. In particular Will M. has made the step-up from primary schooling so well that he left no room for Kevin Y, who had to move to Chicago to further his schooling – You can’t have 2 kids constantly putting their hands up at the same time and as it happened Will M. was correct most of the time while Kevin Y. seemed to not have the answers any more. Of the other freshmen, Daniel N. and Ryan S. have been revelations while Ryan K. has impressed with the speed in which he has completed his tasks.

David O. has been productive, as have Cody R. and Jarrod S. – Jarrod has taken the seat vacated by class president Jason V. but has not assumed that role – Instead he has concentrated on catching others mistakes. Adrian G., Dustin P. and Mike A. have not lived up to expectations – This shortfall has been magnified somewhat by the absence due to illness of Jacoby E. and Carl C. – The latter in particular seems to always have a sick note that excludes him from gym class.

Overall though the Sox have done well with the bat, ranking 2nd of 14 teams in the AL.

The pitching has been not so flash – The front row has been erratic in their work and as they are required to shoulder the lion’s share this has been a problem. Daniel B. has had to be sent down a class due to his inability to complete assignments while Daisuke M. now looks to be back in the nurse’s office yet again. Felix D. and Clay B. have been good but only with the support of their colleagues on offence. Jon L. has been a pass mark at best, while Josh B. has been heavily distracted by extra-curricular activities – He needs to knuckle-down, albeit figuratively rather than literally, since although Timmy B has graduated, there is no call for a thrower of his knuckleballing ilk in the current class.

The middle rows have by contrast been excellent, with Andrew M., Aaron C., Clayton M., Rich H., Scott A., Franklin M. and even Matt A. doing well, although I am concerned that they have been doing some of the homework of their front row class-mates. Vicente P. has been excellent too but needs to learn not to hit the other kids.

At the back of the room and Alfredo A. has overcome his frustration at being denied a front row seat to complete his work with aplomb. The loss of the out-spoken Joathan P., who was lured to Philadelphia by the promise of a high graduate income, has not been felt negatively.

Overall on pitching the Sox are ranked 10th of 14. The concern is that this class will repeat last year’s mistakes and will not do well in the lead-up to exams.

Grade: C-

The New York Yankees are achieving some decent results, as 1 would expect from such a high fee-paying school. The class, looking resplendent in blazers and pinstripes, have managed to balance their batting and pitching adequately, being ranked 4th and 5th respectively in those 2 disciplines. Robinson C. has been good but DeWayne W. was caught cheating at 1 point so some remedial action should be taken there. Unsurprisingly, the loss of Mariano R. from the end row due to illness has seen some instability back there as others struggle to complete his tasks.

Grade: B+

The Baltimore Orioles are working through the curriculum with surprising proficiency so far this season. They’ve done so without any class stars, although the Jones boy has been batting quite well. Still, they are 9th and 7th on batting and pitching so there is much room for improvement, even if they have parleyed all of that into 2nd in the AL East.

Grade: C+

The Tampa Bay Rays are not meeting expectations although they are close. Their pitching is ranked 4th so this has gone ok for them but on batting, their run production is flat across the class with a ranking of 10th. Evan L. has hit well but has had too many days of illness. 1 thing that this class can cling to is that they did rather well last year in the lead-up to exams – Certainly they will need that kind of study and application once more.

Grade: C

The Toronto Blue Jays have met expectations – This is not a low achieving class but there’s not much that stands-out either. José B. has been excellent, frequently coming up with the answers to some big questions. My 1 concern with him is that his parents may decide that he needs to go to a high-achieving school, such as 1 in the Bronx. An interesting note is that this class aims to be bilingual with both French and English as the languages of choice. Perhaps teacher John F. could focus on pitching as well as the class is currently ranked a lowly 12th on ERA.

Grade: C

I’d like to finish up by taking a closer look at Daniel Bard of the Red Sox. Bard was a great set-up man last season, dousing fires out of the bullpen in such a way that he made Jonathan Papelbon look good. He went into Spring Training this year with a shot at a starter’s role, something he clearly relished. This became somewhat of a bind for the Sox – They owed Bard a shot but must have wondered what they were losing in middle-to-late relief. I vaguely remember a fair bit of disquiet when he began the regular season as a starter – Some people figuring that it was a mistake.

I was 1 of them.

Still, the Sox and Bard gave it a red hot go and I reckon most were disappointed for the lad when it fell apart dramatically. He’s now rebuilding his career at Portland and hopefully he can return to the Red Sox pen soon. His situation and the way it all played out reminded me of something from my high school days…

I was a ‘D’ student in physics, just above a fail mark. My teacher jokingly suggested 1 day that he would pass me if I promised never to get involved with the subject again.

As it happened I passed it and then went on to study physics at university.

For 8 years.

From which I did not extract a degree.

Sometime around year 2 of my study I ran into that same teacher. Recognizing me he stopped to ask what I was up to – ‘I’m studying physics,’ I proudly replied. He smiled politely and said some not unkind words, giving no hint that he thought I’d made a mistake, even if that must have surely crossed his mind.

And in hindsight it would be tempting to agree with that sentiment.

I don’t though. I don’t regret those 8 years or the part where I tried something that somebody else said I couldn’t do. I don’t think the Red Sox or Daniel Bard should regret trying him out as a starter either.

Report cards might ultimately turn out to be accurate but they’re not necessarily a guide for life.

Don’t Know What A Slide Rule Is For

  1. Class dismissed…but what a great read during today’s session. Wonderful post!

    • Thanks – I’m trying to find humour in watching the Sox play. I have this sinking feeling that it might be all that I can take from the 2012 season. That and the part where we at least shipped out Papelbon and his mouth. Terribly sorry about that.

      • Poupon Papelbon blew another save last night against the Mets. Crushing loss. Ryan Howard expected back tonight. Somehow, the excitement just isn’t there…2012 sad for both Boston and Philly.

      • Ahhh Poupon! Love that name. Found myself growling at him pitching a televised game a few weeks back on your behalf but to no avail. He’s proving to be very costly. As for his team-mates, it’s not over – There’s still time. The problem is that they are 13 back and they just don’t look like it. Can understand the lack of excitement. Boston are closer but just aren’t engendering much more energy. Perhaps it’s time to focus on prospects for 2013 and a debate about who Poupon might fit in with. Like say, Oakland.

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