Being James Bond
“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”
If I might borrow the words of James Bond’s nemesis Auric Goldfinger for a moment, let me apply them to Seattle P-I columnist John Levesque’s unhealthy obsession with Willie Bloomquist. The malady manifested itself again today, marking a trifecta of tedious homilies to Seattle’s most famous dirtier of uniforms.
Like a drowning man, Levesque’s going down for the third time signals a point of departure from which there is no return.
For, as the movie villain’s rhetorical flourish suggests, this constitutes “enemy action.” Not against, you, or me, or the blog, but against — you’ll forgive the hyperbole — logic and reason itself.
I argued as much previously, and there’s naught but confirmation in this latest hollow epic of homerism. He plays hard! Yes, but poorly. He plays several positions! Which makes him best suited as a utility player, not a regular. He got a hit in these few situations, which I will enumerate! But very, very few other situations.
People tend to see what they want to see. If you want to prove that a player — any player — should be a regular, you can pick his best performances and write about them ad nauseum.
It’s intellectually dishonest, though, and it serves ill the very readers to whom Levesque is pandering.
Sincerely, this is the last topic I wanted to write on. When accused of Bloomquist-bashing, we’ve replied with affirmations of what we think the man does well — offering bench depth and pinch-running at the league minimum.
Contrary to the scurrilous assertions of Levesque and others, none of us root for Our Man From Port Orchard to fail. As a fan, I root for him to hit a home run in every plate appearance. Is it critics’ fault that we’ve only seen this happen thrice — one for every laudatory Levesque column — in nearly 700 major-league at bats ?
Are we not rooting hard enough? Will Bloomquist struggle and Tinkerbell die if we do not improve our clapping?
The trick is not let your wishes run faster than your neurons can fire. It’s fine to love Willie Bloomquist, whether it be for his hustle, his attitude, or what have you. But have the courage to love him for what he is, not what you want him to be.
Appreciating Bloomquist must involve realism. It must acknowledge that yes, I appreciate this player for the grit and determination shown in the two at-bats I describe in this column, but I also see the ugly results from the other 135 at-bats since he’s been in the lineup every day.
An honest assessment would say hey, I like watching this guy play. That’s true even though he’s started 32 of the last 33 games and shown precious little. With 137 at bats, he’s raked just 34 hits and walked a mere three times, getting on base at a .264 clip. Only seven of those knocks have been for extra bases, none a home run.
True appreciation demands clear sight, and that means seeing what’s there rather than what you wish were there. If one wants to see a starting-caliber player emerging from a slump, though — well, that’s what one is likely to see, with neither fact nor formal logic to say thee nay.
A friend’s high school wrestling coach advised us, as young competitors, thusly: be James Bond, he said.
Bond was never the largest guy in the fight, we were told, nor the strongest. He was the smartest, and the most flexible, using his intellect to adapt to emerging dangers. In life and in the sport, we were told, this is worth emulating. It still is.
James Bond would only let himself be distracted by one pet obsession, and here’s a clue: it wasn’t the plight of a backup major league infielder.
Be honest. Be flexible. Be James Bond, John. Let it go.