The Mysterious Case of Bobblehead Yuni

Yesterday, former major league shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt turned 33. While I am certainly not the only fan who maintains a love-hate relationship with Yuni, I like to think I’ve kept it up longer than most, for better or for worse (definitely for worse). My affinity for Yuni stems from his three-plus years as my beloved Mariners’ starting shortstop. As some of you know, we like to have fun with the @Mariners over on the Twitter machine. It’s pretty clearly the best MLB team Twitter account, and we enjoy interacting with them from time to time. However, I quickly learned the hard way that @Mariners can troll with the best of them.

In November of 2013, I purchased a 2008 Seattle Mariners Yuniesky Betancourt bobblehead on eBay. It was a ridiculous purchase, but my the desk in my dorm room was in need of another member; Cobra Bubbles and Count Chocula needed another running mate. And so, Bobblehead Yuni joined them.

// “crazy shit” turned out to be signing that Robinson Cano guy to a lot of years for a lot of money. That was pretty exciting! I began to trust Bobblehead Yuni to emotionally guide me through the dangerous hot stove season with that confident smile of his. For a while, this coping strategy worked like a charm. When the Mariners traded my irrationally beloved Carter Capps to Miami, Bobblehead Yuni was there for me. When the Mariners gave Corey Hart’s knees $6 million, Bobblehead Yuni was there for me. When the Mariners gave Willie Bloomquist a two-year deal, you’re god damn right Bobblehead Yuni was there for me. Suddenly, disaster struck. At some point over the first few weeks of my spring semester, Bobblehead Yuni mysteriously disappeared. I was horrified. What transpired over the next several months cannot be explained with words…but it can be explained with tweets. In honor of his birthday, here it is: the mysterious case of Bobblehead Yuni.










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Shaq Thompson and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Baseball Career

A couple weeks ago, I was scrolling through the ol’ Twitter feed when I came across this:

Shaq Thompson? I recognized that name from somewhere. I haven’t really ever followed college football so I knew it had to be something other than football. Eventually, it came to me. Shaq Thompson, the most versatile college football player in the nation, had the worst statistical career in professional baseball history.

In high school, Thompson was a football and track standout. He played in the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl and specialized in the 200-meter dash. After his senior year, Thompson was the no. 1 safety recruit and the no. 4 overall recruit in the nation. He committed to play football at the University of Washington. Thompson, now a junior linebacker for the Huskies, has thrived on the gridiron and has earned national recognition as one of the best all-around players in the country. So where does his baseball career fit in?

Back in 2012, Alex Speier documented Thompson’s incredible journey from his middle school days to his last at-bat in pro ball. It’s especially worth the read now, knowing of Thompson’s immense success on the football field. The Red Sox took a chance on Thompson in the 18th round of the 2012 Draft, with the hope that he could turn his raw athletic gifts into actual baseball skills. Thompson had only played baseball in senior year, and fared well against weak competition, but teams love to gamble on freak athletes with the hope that they can actually learn how to play baseball. Thompson was still committed to playing football for the Huskies in the fall, but wanted to give baseball, a sport he loved as a kid, a try before heading up to Washington. Thompson played in 13 games for the Red Sox in the Gulf Coast League (the lowest level of the minor leagues) over the span of a month–from June 20th to the July 20th. This is how it went:

Game 1

1st plate appearance: strikeout swinging

2nd plate appearance: strikeout looking

3rd plate appearance: walk

4th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

5th plate appearance: walk

Game 2

6th plate appearance: strikeout looking

7th plate appearance: strikeout looking

8th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

Game 3

9th plate appearance: walk

10th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

11th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

12th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

13th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

Game 4

14th plate appearance: strikeout looking

15th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

16th plate appearance: strikeout looking

Game 5

17th plate appearance: strikeout looking

18th plate appearance: strikeout looking

19th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

Game 6

20th plate appearance: RBI ground out to 1st (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

21st plate appearance: strikeout swinging

22nd plate appearance: walk

Game 7

23rd plate appearance: strikeout looking

24th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

25th plate appearance: strikeout looking

Game 8

26th plate appearance: strikeout looking

27th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

28th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

Game 9

29th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

30th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

31st plate appearance: walk

Game 10

32nd plate appearance: strikeout swinging

33rd plate appearance: walk

34th plate appearance: walk

Game 11

35th plate appearance: strikeout looking

36th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

37th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

38th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

39th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

Game 12

40th plate appearance: walk

41st plate appearance: strikeout looking

42nd plate appearance: strikeout looking

43rd plate appearance: strikeout looking

44th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

45th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

Game 13

46th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

47th plate appearance: lineout to right field

Shaq Thompson went 0-39 with 37 strikeouts. His career line was .000/.170/.000. 

Over his 47 plate appearances, Thompson put the ball in play twice while striking out 79% of the time. He had a .170 OPS, which was also his OBP. Even if you lower the minimum plate appearances threshold to 40, only two position players in baseball history have had a lower OPS for their careers. The next closest (and most recent) is Cincinnati infielder Neftali Soto, who has hit .071/.091/.095 in his first 44 plate appearances. Of course, that’s in the big leagues. Unfortunately, there is no Play Index for the GCL or any level of the minors, so I’m only 99.99% certain that Thompson holds the title for Worst Professional Career Ever. Thompson’s eight walks can most likely be attributed to some combination of the inexperienced pitchers he was facing and the presumed occasional strategy of just not swinging at all. Thompson had the 6th most strikeouts on his team and the 16th most plate appearances. I could go on, but I already feel kinda bad. It doesn’t take advanced stats to know how bad he was. Although, let’s give him credit: he did have one RBI.

Barry Petchesky of Deadspin did a great piece on Thompson right after he unsurprisingly declared his baseball career over. The end of the piece really sums up how I feel about Thompson’s epic struggles:

“Ted Williams always maintained that the hardest thing to do in sports is to hit a baseball. That quote plays well with the crowd who holds up “The Green Fields of the Mind” as great American literature, but it’s surely meaningless. Hitting a ball is hard. Memorizing a football playbook is hard. Sticking with the receiver on an out route is hard. Everything in sports is difficult in its own way, and something like hitting a baseball is so divorced from any other skill set as to be an almost irrelevant marker of athletic talent. Shaq Thompson’s minor league struggles don’t have to mean anything, other than the objective fact that he went 0-for-39, with 37 strikeouts. We’ll always have that.”

I agree: Shaq Thompson’s failures in the GCL don’t definitively tell us anything about professional baseball or Thompson himself. And yet, his brief stint in pro ball can give us some perspective. If you take a not-so-scientific look at the Crazy-Athlete-Trying-To-Play-Baseball Spectrum, you’ll see that most of those attempts to play pro ball end in failure. Thompson certainly represents one end of the so-called spectrum, but there are countless other examples of ‘lottery ticket’ athletes flaming out in the low-minors, much to the chagrin of their respective organizations. However, teams — some more than others — will continue to gamble on these super-freaks with the hope that just one of them really does evolve into a franchise-type player.

More than anything, I’m genuinely happy Shaq Thompson has rebounded so well from his briefly cataclysmic baseball career to become one of the best college football players in the country. ESPN’s Todd McShay recently projected Thompson to be a mid-1st round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, citing him as a “unique talent with an outstanding combination of size, speed, and athleticism”. Thompson’s success on the gridiron only further proves Petchesky’s point that his struggles in pro ball don’t really tell us anything about Thompson or baseball. It was just a remarkably ridiculous thing that happened. Thompson tried one professional sport and failed spectacularly. He’s about to try another professional sport, and has a much better chance at succeeding. That’s pretty awesome! Two professional sports!

There have been plenty of other great football players drafted by baseball teams based on their athletic abilities and performance in high school. Most of them never step foot on a minor league field. You know who else was drafted out of high school in the 18th round? Tom Brady! Tom Brady could have been the one to go 0-39 with 37 strikeouts. We’ll never know. I’m obviously not faulting Brady or any other athlete that chose to forego baseball for other sports, but give Thompson credit: he tried! Just because he turned to be the one to go 0-39 with 37 strikeouts doesn’t mean he’s the only one that could have gone 0-39 with 37 strikeouts. In fact, I’m almost positive Jon Heyman would’ve gone 0-47 with 47 strikeouts if given the opportunity.

Shaq Thompson may hold the title for Worst Professional Baseball Career Ever. But he also briefly held the title of Professional Baseball Player. Soon, he’ll hold the title of Professional Football Player. That’s more than you or I can say. Unless Bo Jackson is reading this, in which case, hey Bo Jackson!



“Bonds on Bonds” Revisited

The only thing worse than days without baseball during the regular season are days without baseball during the playoffs. As usual, the best remedy for baseball-less boredom is actually just more baseball; often in the form of Baseball-Reference Play Indexing and ridiculous Barry Bonds stats. As if I haven’t written about Bonds enough, I decided to turn (mostly) away from the statistical side of Barry Bonds and look back into the person he was in his playing days. One of the more interesting looks into Bonds’ life was the short-lived ESPN reality series, “Bonds on Bonds”, which aired during the latter half of the 2006 season, Bonds’ penultimate season in San Francisco. This series is certainly hard to track down, but some unclear portion of it is indeed on YouTube (embedded above) for your viewing pleasure/displeasure. While I definitely recommend watching the whole thing, here are some of the highlights:

1) At 17:30 – Bonds on his defense:

“There was always a cardinal rule: if I ain’t gettin’ no hits, you ain’t gettin’ no hits.”

I very much doubt Bonds was the first one to employ this mantra, but he carried it out better than most, especially over the first half of his career. For example:


2) At 19:21 – Bonds on his time at Arizona State University:

//“I always tell everybody my major was MLB. That’s what I mastered at. I think the rest of it was just a waste of time…but I did major in criminal justice and um…I never went that far.”

There is a very, VERY small part of me that wishes Bonds pursued his major further and became some sort of state trooper or prison warden.

3) At 24:17 – Bonds on the value of his home run balls at that stage of his career:

“A home run has become a lottery ticket. You have the opportunity to better somebody’s life by hitting a home run. To me, that’s satisfying. ‘Thank you Barry Bonds, goodbye!’ You are welcome *laughs*.”

Bonds was at the point in his career where every home run he hit was worth serious money. Sure, the bundled-up fans sitting in their canoes in McCovey Cove looked crazy but they were simply waiting for a legitimately lucrative baseball to come falling from the sky into the freezing waters beneath them. I can’t totally blame them. It’s also pretty awesome how much Bonds enjoyed hitting those magical lottery tickets.

4) At 37:00 – Jimmy Rollins on Barry Bonds:

“I remember how I felt when I was younger just seeing the name ‘Bonds’ across his back. And I was like, ‘Bonds’…that’s one hell of a name.”


5) At 38:47 – Bonds on chasing records:

“I didn’t have to hit the home runs. I didn’t have to do a lot of things I do. I didn’t have to. I had that choice. But I chose that I wanted to be like Willie [Mays], and I wanted to be like Hank Aaron, and I wanted to be like Babe Ruth.”

Sure, Bonds had more natural baseball talent than 98% of the players that came before, during, and after his time. But it’s easy to point to countless immensely talented players that never really produced the way we hoped they could. From premier prospects that flamed out before even reaching the big leagues to decent major leaguers that never quite turned into the superstars that we expected, there are so many examples of raw talent failing to reach its full potential. Bonds understood the talent he possessed and did everything in his power to assure it was not wasted. As former manager Jim Leyland said, despite already being the best, Bonds worked harder than anyone to get the most out of his natural abilities. He was fully committed to becoming the best player he could be, which turned out to one of, if not the greatest player of all time.

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30 Ways the Rockies “Tulowizki” Giveaway Could Have Gone Worse

Earlier today, the Twitter universe learned of the Rockies giveaway disaster. They managed to spell the name of their superstar wrong on all X number of free jerseys they gave away to their home fans. Tulowizki. Troy Tulowizki! No, seriously, Troy Tulowizki:

// after, we saw this wonderful tweet from Mr. Grant Brisbee:

It got us thinking. The Rockies sure messed up, but it could have been a lot worse for some other teams.

Baltimore Orioles

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 8.17.14 PM

New York Yankees

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 8.39.56 PM

Boston Red Sox

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 8.19.11 PM

Toronto Blue Jays

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 8.22.55 PM

Tampa Bay Rays

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 8.47.59 PM

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The Time I Struck Out A Minor League Pitcher

Yesterday, I pitched against a professional baseball player. What did you do yesterday?

BFF of the BBQ Kieran Lovegrove was the unlucky victim forced to stand toe to toe against America’s ROOGY. The setting was less than ideal, as I would prefer to be in a Major League park wearing actual baseball clothing. Forced to suffer through the reprehensible conditions in the parking lot behind the State College Spikes stadium, I had a great deal to overcome.


I knew the legend known as Lovegrove struggles with hard stuff in under the hands so I decided to start off the at-bat with a two-seamer on the inner half. The devastating arm-side run on my fastball was too much for him to handle as he jammed the ball foul the other way.

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My 25 Favorite Barry Bonds Facts


(This was originally published on July 24, 2014. In honor of the Giants retiring Bonds’ #25, all stats have been updated through August 11, 2018. Congratulations, Barry!)

About six months ago, I wrote a piece for Michael Clair’s annual blogathon to raise money for Doctors Without Borders titled “25 Greatest Barry Bonds Facts”. To this day, it remains my favorite thing I’ve written, and it’s a collection of statistical absurdities that I’m very proud of.

Today is Barry Lamar Bonds’ 50th birthday. In honor of this special day, I’ve updated all the statistics in my original list and brought it back here to CFBBQ. As many of you know, we here at the BBQ absolutely love everything that Bonds did for baseball. He is quite clearly the greatest hitter in the history of the game, and still remains remarkably under-appreciated a mere seven years after his final season with the Giants.

I’d like to think I’ve played a tiny, tiny part in the slow progression towards a full-blown mainstream appreciation for the incredible things that Bonds did on the baseball field. There have been sporadic “Barry Bonds Crazy Fun Facts” posts over the years, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them. Barry’s birthday has already spawned a few more of these wonderful collections earlier today, most notably Tim Marchman’s over at Deadspin.

Certain Bonds facts resonate more with certain people, for whatever reasons. These 25 have remained my favorite, but there is a decent chance I’ll have 25 new favorites by this time next year. The career of Barry Bonds is an infinite gold mine of mind-blowing statistical miracles; there’s a favorite Bonds fact for each and every one of us.

Without further ado, here they are. My 25 favorite Barry Bonds facts.

25. For his career, Barry Bonds was 0-3 with 3 K’s against Rick Ankiel

…and it was all in one game. June 20th, 2000. In his first plate appearance against the then 20-YEAR-OLD Ankiel, Bonds worked Ankiel to a full count before striking out swinging. In his second plate appearance, Ankiel struck him out swinging on three pitches. In his third and final plate appearance against, again, RICK ANKIEL, Barry Bonds struck out looking on three pitches. They would never face each other again. Rick Ankiel is one of two pitchers to have faced Barry Bonds four times or less and strike him out three times. The other one is Bartolo Colon. Bonds also only faced Bartolo for one game; June 12th, 2003 against the White Sox. First AB: strikeout swinging. Second AB: strikeout swinging. Third AB: strikeout swinging. Fourth AB: home run to take the lead in the top of the ninth inning.

24. Craig Biggio drove in 1,175 runs in his 20 year career. Barry Bonds’ home runs alone drove in 1,174 runs.

It’s almost like Barry Bonds hit a lot of home runs or something.

23. 2001-2004 fWAR (FanGraphs’ version of WAR):

  • Barry Bonds: 46.6 fWAR
  • New York Mets: 46.6 fWAR
  • Milwaukee Brewers: 45.3 fWAR
  • Kansas City Royals: 31.0 fWAR
  • Detroit Tigers: 30.9 fWAR
  • Montreal Expos: 30.7 fWAR

2001-2004 was a fun time for Mr. Bonds, and this list makes that very clear. The level at which he was dominating baseball will probably never be seen again. Barry Bonds drew 120 intentional walks in 2004 alone. Speaking of intentional walks…

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Organizational Lineups: The Best Names In the Minor Leagues (NL East)

If it wasn’t obvious already, we absolutely love ridiculous names. For each 2014 team preview, we included a list of the best names in the organization. Because it’s summer, I’m gonna take it one step further. I have assembled a starting lineup and starting rotation of the most spectacular names for every team in baseball using solely players in their respective minor league systems. You will read some of these names and question their legitimacy but a quick Google search will confirm each and every one these as 100% real. As a rule, each position must be played by a player that is actually listed at that position. For example, the Giants have five different shortstops with unbelievable names but I could only choose two (SS and DH). Every team has a DH, and the DH could be any position player. Each team also has a five man rotation. Rotations were certainly difficult to determine because OH MY GOD THESE PITCHER NAMES ARE UNREAL. Okay. TO THE SQUADS.


Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves

  • C Orrin Sears
  • 1B Juruengelo Tielman
  • 2B Mattia Mercuri
  • 3B Mike Dodig
  • SS Ray-Patrick Didder
  • OF Nisandro Cleofa
  • OF Fernelys Sanchez
  • OF Ledernin Tejada
  • DH Trenton Moses
  1. RHP Osman Manzanares
  2. RHP Evertz Orozco
  3. RHP Dakota Dill
  4. RHP Francois Lafreniere
  5. RHP Jesus Jones

Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins

  • C Yobanis Pinto
  • 1B Viosergy Rosa
  • 2B Terrence Dayleg
  • 3B J.T. Riddle
  • SS Garvis Lara
  • OF Wildert Pujols
  • OF Coco Johnson
  • OF Alinson Peguero
  • DH Iramis Olivencia
  1. RHP Jheyson Manzueta
  2. RHP Jorgan Cavenerio
  3. RHP Yeims Mendoza
  4. RHP Yonqueli Perez
  5. RHP Esmerling De La Rosa

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The CFBBQ Road Trip: A Recap

We returned home late last night from our nearly two-week long baseball road trip extravaganza. If you’re wondering why we haven’t had any content here, it’s because all of our daily road trip journal entries have been featured at Baseball Prospectus. We are very happy with how the series turned out, and the series has been made completely free over at Baseball Prospectus for all to read. Below are links to each day’s post with brief descriptions of what we wrote about:


In which we explained what the series would be and why we’re doing it.


Summary: The beginning of the trip and our first game.

Game: Frederick Keys (Orioles) at Lynchburg Hillcats (Braves)

Interviews: OF Kyle Wren and RHP Lucas Sims


Summary: We saw two Low-A games in one day. Raimel Tapia was awesome.

Games: Lexington Legends (Royals) at Asheville Tourists (Rockies) and Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox) at Hickory Crawdads (Rangers)

Interview: 1B Correlle Prime


Summary: We went to an awful stadium with awesome people. Kris Bryant did Kris Bryant things.

Game: Tennessee Smokies (Cubs) at Huntsville Stars (Brewers)

Interview: INF Josh Prince


Summary: We went to a college baseball regional game where the baseball was okay but the college was spectacular.

Game: Southeastern Louisiana at Louisiana State University


Summary: We attended two games at Minute Maid Park; the first as fans, the second as media.

Games: Baltimore Orioles at Houston Astros

Interviews: 1B Chris Carter and OF Dexter Fowler

DAY SEVEN: We got lazy and didn’t write anything.


Summary: We saw a game in Round Rock before heading North to Dallas and the Texas Wranglers.

Games: Omaha  Storm Chasers (Royals) at Round Rock Express (Rangers) and Baltimore Orioles at Texas Rangers


Summary: We went to Dr. Pepper Ballpark and drank a lot of Dr. Pepper. We also saw another baseball game.

Game: San Antonio Missions (Padres) at Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers)

Interview: RHP Alec Asher


Summary: Bill Clinton World and disappointing Angels prospects.

Game: Springfield Cardinals (Cardinals) at Arkansas Travelers (Angels)


Summary: We went back to Huntsville because the people there are awesome. Then the rain came.

Game: Mobile BayBears (Diamondbacks) at Huntsville Stars (Brewers)


Summary: We returned to Crawdad Land to see a RIDICULOUS baseball game and some talented Dominican teenagers.

Game: West Virginia Power (Pirates) at Hickory Crawdads (Rangers)

Interview: INF Nick Vickerson


Summary: We saw two rainy games and finally headed home.

Games: Carolina Mudcats (Indians) at Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox) and Norfolk Tides (Orioles) at Durham Bulls (Rays)


Episode 38: The Boy Who Never Gave Up

What you’re about to listen to is a recording of Lana and I reading a story that Jake wrote when he was in 4th grade. The story is about a baseball player named Carlos Garcia. This is the story of the boy who never gave up. We apologize for the constant laughter throughout.

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Episode 37: Daniel Hudson, Silver Slugger

sandoval hudson

Daniel Hudson Does Not Like Pablo Sandoval :(

Welcome to Barbecast 37! It’s our second one of the week, and our last one before we venture off to Texas. Our special guest this week is major league pitcher Daniel Hudson of the Arizona Diamondbacks (starts around 19:35). Daniel has had Tommy John surgery twice, so he seemed like a good person to talk to about the sudden epidemic of TJ’s around baseball. We also talked about his career up to this point, why Pablo Sandoval owns him, and why he got into the world of social media. Our b-ref battle this week included another potential all-time great as well as an unexpected weapon. Tales from Logdog with Lana Berry covered Lana’s mental state a week before she’s actually meeting us in person. We also talked about our trip to Texas, which is a thing that is happening. Jake’s Varsity Baseball Update is on break for the summer, so we got a Barbecuers update as well as a special appearance from our two mothers. E-mails were great, including a wonderful Miguel Olivo-related OBP e-mail. Thanks for listening <3

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