Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Equating Your Royals To A Character In The Wire: The Joakim Soria Edition

This is the first in what I expect to be an ongoing series that should break the monotony of writing about a largely abysmal team. Sure things are looking up for the future, but the future is not here quite yet. When you have devoted as much time to writing about the Royals as I have, diversions like this are necessary.

Of all of the characters in the seminal crime drama series The Wire, there is perhaps no comparison more apropos than the one drawn between a character and a member of the Royals than the one between Brother Mouzone and Joakim Soria.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Obviously, both Brother Mouzone and Soria read Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, and The New Republic, but where do the similarities extend past that?

In Arabic, the word mouzone means "judicious" (at least according to Wikipedia). As any regular viewer of The Wire could tell you, the naming of the character is apt. If Joakim Soria has been one thing in his tenure with the Royals, it has been judicious. Each time out on the mound, he has been exceptionally prudent. He has parsed out pitches both carefully and expeditiously. He rarely does himself harm by giving away free passes, having never exceeded 19 walks in a season or a BB/9 higher than 2.72.

Furthermore, he wastes little while on the mound. Giving away little, he elects to go after his foes, mowing them down at an impressive 9.92 K/9. This works out to a career K/BB of 4.01. Since breaking into the Majors in 2007, only nine pitchers with at least 250 IP have posted a better K/BB than Joakim Soria. Of those ten pitchers, Soria has the lowest ERA and the second-lowest FIP and xFIP, behind only Mariano Rivera. The man means business.

He has done all of this while not looking the part of the closer. Soria is not a flame-thrower. While being 6'3", he is listed as being under 200 lbs. Unlike many closers, Soria is relatively unassuming. These are all traits that he shares with Brother Mouzone, who does not look the part of a drug enforcer and professional killer. Despite the fact than neither are the prototypes for the role they inhabit, they excel at their trade. In fact, Soria is so proficient that he has been bestowed the nickname The Mexicutioner*.

*I wrote this section before Soria tweeted that he no longer wants this nickname used because of all the violence in Mexico. The point remains, but I'll cease using the nickname per his request.

That is not all. Brother Mouzone is introduced to the show as the man who Avon Barksdale brings in from New York to regulate on Proposition Joe's crew who are slinging at the Towers. Just as Brother Mouzone is brought in from off the radar, Joakim Soria was acquired via the Rule V draft, having never pitched above high-A ball in the United States when the Royals brought him in from the Padres organization. Both are essentially brought in from foreign lands. Not unlike Brother Mouzone, whose reputation as a fearsome hired gun preceded him was balanced out with mystery as no one knew what he looked like, there was little known about Soria when he arrived in town, other than the fact that the day after Soria was selected by the Royals he performed the herculean feat of hurling a perfect game. Clearly the arrival of each was predated with tales that should have struck fear into their imminent foes.

And then there is usage. Of the The Wire's 60 episodes, Brother Mouzone appears in a scant seven episodes. Any Royals fan can tell you that the 60 innings that Joakim Soria is going to get in any given season is not enough to satisfy. There is also the related argument that perhaps, if each were used more, they would be overexposed or less effective.

There you have it: Brother Mouzone = Joakim Soria.

Comments? Concerns?

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