Monday, February 16, 2009

Cubs.com Knows What the People Want to Hear

On Friday, the Chicago Cubs reported to Mesa for Spring Training. While there are many stories around Cubs camp this year from the arrival of Uncle Milton, to the closer competition between Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg, to the fact that some people actually think Aaron Miles will start over Mike Fontenot, to Carlos Zambrano rocking this fantastic 'stache:
Cubs.com knows exactly what the people want: Bobby Scales. In an article by Lisa Winston entitled "Batting Around with Bobby Scales," we are treated to a few facts about our own Iowa Cubs superstar. So, without further ado, Cubs.com in italics-

There are many mysteries in this world.

Stonehenge. Bigfoot. Life on Mars.

Carnac the Magnificent says- Name three things likely to be explained or discovered before Rich Hill ever regains control of his pitches.

Why utilityman extraordinaire Bobby Scales hasn't gotten a call-up to the Major Leagues yet.

Damn. Close.

While we'll leave the first few to scientists and historians, let's take this opportunity to address the last one as Scales begins Spring Training as a non-roster invitee to Chicago Cubs camp in Mesa, Ariz.

Heading into his 11th professional season and his second with the Cubs, it's hard to figure what more Scales has to do to get his shot at just a little bit of baseball immortality.

Well, the way stars are dropping left and right to the stigma of steroid abuse, eventually we'll be left with Bobby Scales as a baseball immortal. And I'm just fine with that.

Coming off his best pro season to date, when he batted .320 with 15 home runs and 59 RBIs at Triple-A Iowa, the switch-hitting Scales has a pretty nice package to offer any big league team.

Bam. We've already found the answer to Scales' mysterious lack of a pro debut. Jealous major leaguers refusing to allow Bobby's nice package to steal all the locker room thunder.

Scales can hit. In 10 Minor League seasons, the last five spent at Triple-A, he has a .285 average. He's also started to add a little power with double digits in homers three of the last four years

In Bobby's defense, the organization that drafted him and had him from 1999-2004 was the San Diego Padres, and quite frankly it must have been hard to crack the major league roster for the dynasty they had going at that time.

Scales is versatile. A second baseman when picked by the San Diego Padres in the 14th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Michigan, he has since added first base, third base and left and right fields to his resumé. He's also batted everywhere in the lineup, from leadoff to ninth.


He has experience batting from the nine hole? How has Tony LaRussa Not scooped this guy up yet?

And those are just the tangible stats. When you consider his intangibles, the fact that he's spent more than a decade in the Minors without even a cup of coffee in the Majors seems even more baffling.

You can't quantify or statisticize the Heart of Bobby Scales. You can't measure his grit or his hustle. But that's just the racism inherent in baseball when the Ecksteins and Theriots of the world get a shot and Bobby Scales is left in Des Moines or Scranton or Pawtucket. But no, just because your ZORP or your BAAP says Bobby Scales isn't an all time great second baseman like Rickie Weeks or Josh Barfield, he doesn't deserve a shot at the big time.

He is, by anyone's account, a great guy off the field, in the clubhouse and the community, winning his team's Community Player of the Year award several times, including last summer in his first season at Iowa.

He's especially active when it comes to going into the community to work with kids, not surprising since his offseason job is as a substitute teacher at his alma mater, Milton High School in Alpharetta, Ga.

One wonders if the calamity that would befall the community of Des Moines were they to lose the philanthropic activities of Bobby Scales is the reason he's failed to get a crack at the majors.

And he keeps things loose in the clubhouse, where, among other things, he entertains teammates (and some of the higher-ups) with his talent for impressions. During his days with the Padres, he was well-known for his ability to mimic, among others, farm director Tye Waller (now the Oakland As' bench coach), Minor League manager Tony Franklin (now the skipper for the Double-A Trenton Thunder) and Padres legend Tony Gwynn.

He can mimic THE Tye Waller?? AND Tony Franklin of the TRENTON THUNDER? Why the hell haven't we seen the hilarious stylings of BOBBY SCALES on Letterman?

"My wife says that I'm the most perceptive person she's ever seen in terms of noticing people's mannerisms," Scales said. "And you don't want to offend anybody, but they're baseball guys, so they have thick skin."

I'll trust Mrs. Scales' evaluations of impersonating skills every single time. And baseball guys are most certainly known for thick skin.

Scales worked his way through the Padres system and spent all or parts of three seasons at Triple-A Portland before an amicable parting of ways after 2005, when he explored the Minor League free agent waters.

I can only imagine free agent waters as a large pool, with all the major league free agents in the deep end with the hot life guards, and the minor leaguers over in the kiddie pool with water wings on despite the water being only shin deep.

He spent 2006 in the Phillies organization, hitting .291 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and 2007 with the Red Sox, batting .294 at Pawtucket, before signing with the Cubs prior to 2008.

Scales decided to re-sign with the Cubs for 2009 on Christmas Eve while he was on his way to the mall to buy his wife, Monica, one last present.

"Damn I've got to figure out a way to pay these Christmas bills. F&%k it, I can take one more summer in f*%king Des Moines. Who knows, maybe I'll get a chance if Fontenot sprains his mullet."

"I think I walked away from the Phillies after one year and I probably shouldn't have, and I walked away from Boston after one year and I probably shouldn't have, and I didn't want that to happen a third time," he explained. "All three of those organizations treated me like one of their own. At the time, I felt like if they wanted me in the big leagues, they would have called me up. But I realized it's just not that cut and dried."

Team has player at AAA-Team needs player- Team calls up player. Bobby has cracked the code.

Scales realized it had to work both ways, and while it's not necessarily easy to be patient at age 31, it was something he needed to do.

"I realized the only way to become one of 'their guys' is to stay there," he said. "I didn't want to walk into a big league camp clubhouse and have to start all over again for a fourth straight year."

That, and other big league camps might have stiffer competition than Aaron Miles.

Now the part we've all been waiting for, Q&A!

MLB.com: Of what accomplishment, on or off the field, are you proudest?

Bobby Scales: I'm proud of being able to graduate from college while still performing at a high level. I think a lot of athletes take easy classes and don't pursue their education with the same vigor as their athletic endeavors. In my house, if you didn't handle your business in the classroom, there was no baseball.

And after a 10 year minor league career, one can safely say both baseball and that degree are paying off well.

MLB.com: What do you think you'd be doing now if you weren't playing baseball?

BS: Honestly, I don't know. Ideally, if I wasn't playing baseball, hopefully I'd be in a position to be an athletic director at a college or university, or else in marketing with a company. I did an internship in college at Nike and got to see what was behind the "swoosh."

We all know whats behind the swoosh:

MLB.com: Do you have other hobbies or creative outlets aside from baseball?

BS: I'm a golfer. I play golf until I can't stand up straight and then play more after that.

Bobby Scales has many skills. The fact that he can play golf while contorted should be no surprise.

MLB.com: What is the worst job you've ever had?

BS: My wife has her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia and when she was in grad school I worked at the jewelry store at the mall, the one gap in my substitute teaching career. The people I worked with at the store were awesome, but the job was terrible. I had to wear a suit and tie every day and count the jewelry every morning and every night. And if you're off one earring you have to search the whole store up and down. But we did get a discount on our wedding rings.

Bobby Scales can play first, second, third, left, and right. He can bat anywhere from first to ninth, he can teach your children any subject from math to philosophy, and by God, he can tell you that white gold is the Look this year.

MLB.com: Who would play you in the movie of your life?

BS: My wife just asked me that question. She religiously watches "One Tree Hill," so I've gotten into it, too. The main character has written a movie and they're trying to cast everyone. So she looked at me and said, "Who would play you?" If I was older, I'd go with Denzel, but she says Torii Hunter. People say I look like him and also like [White Sox outfielder] DeWayne Wise. And they say my wife looks like a younger Pam Grier.

Don't sell yourself short Bobby. Why let Denzel play You. Is there any doubt Bobby Scales could play himself better than Denzel could play Bobby Scales? Need more convincing? How about this:

(Photoshop courtesy of Morpheus)

I think I've made my point.

MLB.com: If you were commissioner for a day, which one rule would you change?

BS: That the All-Star Game counts for home-field advantage in the World Series. I think that's ridiculous. The team with the best record should have it.

Bobby Scales, unsurprisingly, proves himself superior to Bud Selig once more.

That's all folks. Let's hope we'll be seeing BOBBY SCALES soon.