VORP by Lex Steppling

Two men sit at a table in an old bar, both have half finished glasses of dark beer in front of them. Across the room there is the bar itself. Sitting at a stool is a crumpled figure, behind the bar stands an old man with a towel over his shoulder and a hat that says SoCal in old English letters. He is staring at something on the wall. His name is Harout. The two men at the table are named Josh and Mason. The crumpled figure is unidentified.

JOSH

He had a career OPS+ of 137

MASON

Yeah I knew it was high

Josh- Way better than he’s ever given credit for because of stupid ass batting average. He never batted higher than 309 in a full season.

Mason- He batted 322 in 1980

Josh- yeah in 92 games

Mason-Right

The figure raises his head though you still can’t see his face. He stays still for about 30 seconds, then lowers his head back into his arms. No one seems to notice.

Josh- Meanwhile, they call Bill Buckner a great hitter. He was average. Just average.

Mason- They feel bad for him because of the error.

Josh- Batting average is why. Most overrated stat in sports. For Reggie Smith to have a career OPS+ 0f 137 while playing in that era is really fucking good dude. In ’77 he lead the NL. In on base percentage.

Mason- I know.

Josh- Dude…He was ahead of Joe Morgan. Higher slugging percentage than Mike Schmidt and Johnny Bench.

Mason- George Foster won the MVP that year.

Josh- Which is ok. He had a fucking monster year, but people talk about Foster. Who talks about Reggie Smith?

Mason- They like, you know…the legends or myths or whatever…that’s why Bill Plaschke always defended Juan Pierre

Josh- Fuck Bill Plaschke…Fuck Juan Pierre…fuck Bill Plaschske!..FUCK Bill Plaschke!

Mason- They like him because he fits into the..you know..the little guy who works hard…you know? Scrappy.

Josh- Yeah, meanwhile he fucking plays below average in every way but baserunning…costs the team wins because of his fucking little girl noodle fucking wet newspaper fucking dead senior citizen arm. Fuck Plascke dude, know nothing old fat fucking retard. Guy is wrong about everything. Everything! Fucking clown.

The figure slumps to the side asleep before catching himself and waking up, at this we see that he is wearing an old generals dress coat.

Josh and Mason both look at him, but quickly resume conversation.

Mason- They like old timey. High socks and stuff. They like guys who make defensive plays look hard.

Josh- They are finally figuring out how to gauge defense. I still don’t fully get all the metrics, but it is starting to make sense. It means guys like Coco Crisp and Mark Ellis are going to be getting paid now.

Mason- That and the juicers aren’t able to do what they used to do, so not everyone is putting up sick numbers anymore.  Makes defense that much more valuable.

Josh- True. The Red Sox invested in defense heavily this year. Though I think Scutaro is seriously overrated.

Mason- UZR is an ok system I think, though how does one truly know how good one is on defense. So man variables.

Josh- It’s the only aspect of the game where the eye test has any relevance. Feilding percentage if it’s in the extremem reaches of low and high can also mean something, but in general, it’s old timey bullshit.  Either way, Scutaro is not the answer.

Mason- He gets on base though. He is above average. I mean dude, his VORP was 39.9. That’s higher than a lot of big name players. Plus, his line drive percentage is really high, even though his batting average on balls in play is average. So he might even have a bigger season.

Josh- ok, ok…I hadn’t thought about the BABIP…your right. I think of him as a fluke because he didn’t OPS+ over 100 until last season….but maybe you know, he’s figuring it out. He’s a nice player, but the Red Sox starting shortstop?

Mason- But remember, he has consistently trended upward, and his pitch selection is really good.

Josh- What was Jeter’s VORP?

Mason- in the seventies I think.

Josh- See, that’s what I mean…how are the Red Sox supposed to compete when they are so far behind the Yanks in key positions.

Mason- Well, I don’t think they will. They might even finish behind the Rays. Red Sox pitching is also kind of overrated, and even though their defense will be good, the juries out on the lineup, good in any other division, but the not for the AL East.

Harout begins to wipe beer mugs. Josh stops, looks at his pocket, reaches into his pocket and pulls out his cell phone. He looks at it, presses a button and proceeds to read a text. He smiles

Josh- You know Jose?

Mason- I know lots of guys named Jose

Josh- My co-worker. He’s having a bbq at his house. Just invited me.I was hoping he would. Im going to try and marinate some carne asada and bring it to his house. I read an online recipe says to use Sunny Delight. I’m going to use Tampico. Cheaper

At the mention of the word Tampico, the figure again lifts his head. We can now see his face. He is very old, with well kept, parted hair and dark circles under his eyes. He stairs straight ahead, and doesn’t move.

Mason and Josh again notice, but both try to pretend not to.

Mason- I bet you Joe Mauer regresses this year….

Josh- Why?

Mason- New ballpark, more pressure. Potential injuries. Just seems bound to happen. Something tells me.

Josh- (mockingly) Something tells you? What…your gut? Do you realize Mauer OPS’d  1.031? he’s a catcher and still had over 300 total bases! And you know he’ll end up DH’ing a lot this season.

Mason- You act like I didn’t just mention ballpark factors. I’m telling you Josh, mark it down bro.

Josh- Your like every other Cubs fan dude….just fucking deluted. Something must be in the water out there in Chicago.

Mason- Im not from Chicago. Im from Cards territory. Springfield.

Josh- Springfield?

At this the man lurches up suddenly unsteadily. He reaches behind the bar and pulls out a crutch. He steadies himself and begins walking towards Josh and Mason. He has only one leg. Harout steps out from the behind the bar and watches, wide leg stance with both hands behind his back.

Josh and Mason both look at the man as he jerks toward them. All we can hear is the sound of his one foot and the crack of his wooden crutch as it his the ground with every step. As he gets closer Josh and Mason both stand up, but then freeze again. The man gets to within a few feet of them and reaches into his coat. Cut to black as we hear them both shriek loudly and violently. We then hear a gutteral voice groan out “miiiiiii piernaaaaa”

“I’ll Show You How to Love Me” by Cannibal and the Headhunters begins to play.

Advertisements