Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Psychological Test to Avoid Sonny Gray Situations in the Future

[Warning: The thoughts below went on longer than I intended, and longer than you might want to read, but Duque's out on his Annual Bender, Sonny Gray is pitching tonight, and I felt like contributing something.  Skip if you're busy.]


I used to live in Manhattan and enjoyed observing that people's reactions to where I lived fell into one of four basic categories:

  1. Intimidated - The first group consisted of people who, when they learned I lived in THE BIG CITY, would touch a few fingers to their lips or clutch their pearls or make some similar gesture of concern. They'd say in a soft voice: "I could never live there."  They meant no judgment or criticism by this, they were just stating a simple fact.  To me, they demonstrated a healthy amount of self-awareness that they'd be in over their heads.  I felt very kindly toward these people and would say something in response like "Oh, it's not for everyone and it can be difficult.  But, if you ever visit, I'd be happy to show you some of the fun parts."

    People like this were invariably from some place like Minnesota, or Kansas, or Indiana, or the other places where people tend to be nice to one another.

  2. Superior - The second group, upon learning that I lived in NYC, would tilt their head back, look down their noses, and sneer "I could never live there".  While the Group 2 response uses the exact same words as the intimidated people in Group 1, the heavy emphasis on the word "I" and the sneering tone of voice left no doubt they thought of me as a pitiable fool for choosing to live in Manhattan.

    People like this were most often from Boston or from some state in the deep South, where coot-like irascibility can be a birthright.  To this group, I'd reply to their "I couldn't live there" with "You're right, you couldn't."   If they had particularly annoyed me, or if I knew they were from Boston, I'd say "You're right,
    you couldn't.  You'd get eaten alivvvvve." I'd growl the word "alive" for emphasis.  And I wouldn't smile.

  3. Enthusiastic but Oblivious - The third group are the clueless man-boy yahoos of the world who don't understand that New York City is bigger than anyone who actually lives there.  These are the kind of people who say things like, "Oh, man, I'd love to live there.  That fucking place wouldn't know what fucking hit it."

    I feel neither compassion nor annoyance for these kinds of guys, just a sort of idle amusement that it's even possible to be so damned clueless.  Guys like these don't understand that New York is a larger-than-life place.  If you live in Terre Haute and the President of the United States visits your city, it's pretty big doin's.  It's on the front page of the paper and all.  New York is a place where the residents actually get ANNOYED when the President visits because they know traffic is going to suck that day.

  4. People Who Understand that It's an Opportunity - The final group are people who go about their business and get right to it.  When people in Group 4 found out I lived in Manhattan, they'd begin the data-gathering process right away.  They'd say, "Oh, man, that's great.  Do you like it?"  If they were at all curious about New York, it was because they sensed they could do well there ... and maybe even better there than anywhere else.

    People in Group 4 are confident and they know how to have fun.  They know how to adapt and make stuff happen in their lives, on and off the field. They live in NYC -- or they don't -- but their eyes are wide open for every good-looking opportunity that's out there.

Two Scientific Questions

My point in all of this is that, in order to avoid Sonny Gray-type issues, perhaps two incredibly scientific questions that I just made up could be asked of every player involved in every trade the Yanks are considering.  The questions are:
  • Based on what you already know, what do you think of people who live in New York City?

  • What do you think of the possibility of living there yourself?

Interpreting the Results

These are actually two pretty simple questions and I think knowing how the players answer could help us to avoid Sonny Gray-type issues:
  • Group 1 - Intimidated - The Sonny Grays of the world are in the first group.  Upon hearing the Yanks are interested, these people touch their fingers to their lips, talk to their parents and/or spouses, get scared shitless, but then look at how gosh-darn-big that paycheck is, and finally choose a place to live that's as far away as they can be from NYC.  Somewhere in a New Jersey suburb with enough above-ground swimming pools and Applebee's and Olive Gardens to make them feel like they're back home.

    Recommendation: Proceed with caution with Group 1 or avoid if possible.

  • Group 2 - Sneering, Superior Assholes - Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, and other similar players who've flamed out in NYC are in the second group.  These assholes could never assimilate because they went around thinking they were superior to the whole shebang and that everyone in NYC is an asshole.  Players like this might be athletically gifted, but they'll never make it with the Yanks.

    Recommendation: Avoid Group 2 guys like the plague.  These guys don't exhibit a "commanding self-confidence" as people from other cities would have us believe.  They are a clubhouse cancer waiting to happen.

  • Group 3 - Enthusiastic but Oblivious - A guy like Clint Frazier is in the third group.  This was a young man who showed up as a rookie in boot camp with long, flowing orange locks.  He needed to have both his hair and his wings clipped by New York City ... and by Yankees management.  What's weird, however, is that guys in this group can excel, particularly if they stay around long enough to actually mature.  See Swisher, Nick.

    Recommendation: Proceed if they're a good player, but talk to the veterans beforehand to make sure the guys in the locker room will accept him.  For every Group 3 guy like Clint Frazier who makes it, there's a Rob Refsnyder who doesn't.

  • Group 4 - People Who Innately Understand the Opportunity - The final group of guys are the guys who get it.  It doesn't matter where they came from, but it matters that their number one focus is between the lines and, hey, if afterward they can check out a NYC art museum, or a place with good cold beer, or a hot club with hot models, or some kick-ass restaurant, they've got enough going on -- and the inner strength, presence, and poise -- to get it all done.  This group includes guys like Jeter, Judge, Didi, and even young Gleyber Torres.

    Recommendation: Do what it takes to sign guys from Group 4!


In summary, I think the two fundamental questions noted above and the resulting groupings by mental make-up should be deployed ASAP, i.e., ahead of the 7/31 trade deadline.  It could help us avoid issues.

If we had asked the two simple questions above:
  • Someone in management would have seen Randy Johnson was a sneering, superior asshole 10 miles away.

  • Someone in management would have seen that Sonny Gray doesn't seem to possess the mental fabric needed to survive in NYC.
I bet if someone had asked a 17-year old Derek Jeter, "Derek, you're from Kalamazoo.  Do you think you you'll be okay to live and play in a place like New York City?", his answer would have been short, simple, and to the point:
Yeah, I can play there.  I'm looking forward to it.  What's a good neighborhood to live in?
I get the sense that Gleyber Torres' answer would be much the same.  Food for thought, I hope.

Enjoy the game tonight.  Go, Sonny, go.



13bit said...

Elegant, scientific, seamless reasoning, LBJ. I think it should go on the 39-Point inspection that we normally perform when we evaluate potential trade prospects.

I also think we should administer a shot of sodium pentathol before asking the questions, just to make sure we get accurate responses.

JM said...

Sadly, since you've left, LBJ, there's a wave of young folks who didn't come here for New York City, but came to change it so it's more like the suburbs and yahoo towns they grew up in.

It's kind of sad. And it didn't help that Bloomberg was the #1 douchebag in that particular category.

Ken of Brooklyn said...

EXCELLENT post, spot on perfect!

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Never lived in NYC. My brother did for over 20 years. The first ten or so, he was a semi-con artist. Would do anything to make a buck. For a while sold fake expensive pens (I can't remember the brands) in front of the NYSE to floor traders on the way in who forgot to bring a pen. An hour or two of work, a handy "rolex saleman" briefcase with a collapsible stand. They cost $3 and he sold them for a hundred, because all those guys had a wad of hundreds. Then he became a cab driver. At the time I worked a lot in North Jersey and he could route me through the tunnel to the upper east side in rush hour in about 45 minutes. He had the Travis Bickel haircut.

Anyway, I lived in NYC vicariously through him. I remember stumbling back to his apartment to sleep on his couch, after a game against the bean eaters and after the bars closed for the obligatory one hour "board of health cleaning" - during which we each drank the three beers we had already purchased -- they just wanted the cash register to show a one hour gap of sales entered. On the way, he said "did you park on third ave?". Why yes I did. "They'll be towing in about an hour. Tomorrow (today) is the Puerto Rican Day parade." Gee thanks bro, find a spot, drunk, and not get nailed. Those were the days of cardboard "no radio" signs in your car.

The moral of the story is, I'd like to think of myself as group 4, but have never been tested other than temporary visits. I would have liked to live in the city in my 30's (not my 20's -- I would have died in a Daily News headline sort of way), but no way would I want to move there now unless I hit all five AND the powerball.

Excellent testing scale on people who could cut it in the town so nice, they named it twice. Especially spot on regarding the ugliest guy to ever where the pinstripes.

TheWinWarblist said...

When I lived in Manhattan, I was a New Yorker and everyone who didn't was from out of town. But when I went on vacations? I was still a New Yorker, and everyone else was still from out of fucking town!

Anonymous said...

That was great. Totally solid reasoning. Well done. The Yankees should hire you.

Doug K.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Hilarious, LBJ!

And you know, there's enough back story on this blog for several novels!

Local Bargain Jerk said...

In a case of What-else-would-you-have-expected? juju, I write something about solving Sonny Gray's problems, go to sleep, and I wake up reading "Sonny" and "Masterpiece" and "Sonny" and "Gem" in the same sentences in the newspapers.

I'll see what I can do for his next start.

KD said...

you are on the hook now, LBJ. I know you are up to it.

DHedgepeth said...

Great post! Way back in April I was asking similar questions because when Andujar got the starting job, in his post-game interviews he was using a translator and I was wondering where a young, talented ballplayer with limited english skills was living in NYC. Well, I still don't know where he lives, but within a few weeks he seemed to ditch the translator for his post-game interviews and I thought "yeah, this guy is going to make it in NYC" because he can live anywhere and be comfortable most anywhere in town now. And I think you nailed it, because I don't think you can say the same for Sonny - he seems somewhat of a Kenny Rogers type to me - loads of talent (have you seen the fangraphs charts on his spin rate? LOL) attached to a sub par mindset.

Alphonso said...

This is brilliant, LBJ.

I thought of Andy Petite. A Houston, Texas guy who simply asked, "which is the best street on the upper east side?"

I lived there for most of my life based on the philosophy; " this is where people come to make a living, find a brilliant independent woman, and pray for an insider deal on a building converting to co-op status."

Where have you gone?

In the end, snow, ice and humidity drove me ( us ) to LA.

But that was after about a lifetime.

Luckily, no Yankee games are missed due to options available on Direct TV.

If Brian read this thing, we would feel more confident.

Carl J. Weitz said...

Excellent critique, LBJ.

I was born in NYC but never lived there (my parents were visiting my grandparents and I decided to arrive about 2 months early). I did, however, grow up in nearby NJ and CT and throughout my life have had relatives and friends living there. So I understand your analysis very well.

I sense there might be an expansion into a PhD thesis coming from this observation????

KD said...

Alphonso, LBJ is our agent in hostile territory somewhere in New England. whenever I see a lobster, maple syrup, or a wild birch tree I imagine LBJ somewhere up there negotiating a round-about and avoiding frost heaves.

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This is a magnificent post.

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