Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Equating Your Royals To A Character In The Wire: The Chris Hayes Edition

I could wax ecstatic about the Royals' fast start, but let's be honest you can get that anywhere right now. This series and nonsense of its ilk is what you come here for if you've made your way to these dark recesses of the interwebs.

To get some housekeeping out of the way, I'll be joining the ranks at Royals Review, with my duties consisting of moderating the game threads and taking care of the recaps on Mondays (barring some of the Monday day games). I'm honestly not sure what my role is past that (if there is any) over there, but I certainly intend to keep doing some analysis on the Royals past recaps once a week. 

Whether that means I'll be doing that here or there, I won't be hard to find. I've been maintaining two personal blogs and writing a fantasy baseball column at Sports Grumblings for over two years now, so you can rest assured that I'll still be writing somewhere. You can be sure that this particular series will not be ending any time soon. 

For once, there are no spoilers abounding. Read without concern. Your life will be enriched. Or more likely will not change at all.

The series opens with the teaser of "The Target" that follows here:

(or if you prefer your videos this way...)

For those who don't bother watching embedded video (or are accessing the site from an iPhone), the Crime Scene Unit has cordoned off a street where a body lies, shot dead. It is the body of Omar Isaiah Betts. While that name may not ring a bell to even the most ardent fan, he was also known as Snot Boogie.

Despite the non-flattering nickname, there is something intrinsically likeable about the kid even though he is gone before we even know him. Through Snot Boogie's nameless friend, we learn that Snot cannot help but repeat the behavior that repeatedly gets him whooped up on. When enough money is on the ground in the neighborhood back-alley craps game, Snot Boogie cannot help but be himself. Knowing full well what the consequences for letting his true self show--his friend states that "[Snot Boogie] couldn't help hisself"--he couldn't stop from grabbing the money and running.

Now one of the primary and most obvious comparisons between Omar Isaiah Betts and Chris Hayes is in their nicknames. As McNulty presupposes, Snot Boogie got his nickname in an anything but flattering way and presumably for reasons outside of his control. Chris Hayes's nickname, while funny, is derived from the fact that he pitched so slowly that he was said to "live in the 70s."  Disco took it in stride, just as we assume Snot Boogie did.

Photo Courtesy of the Gracious Minda Haas
The next obvious similarity between the two lies in the fact that their throwing motions are similar. As Snot Boogie was rolling bones in the alley way, he most definitely threw from a lower arm slot, certainly at least as low as a side-arm, if not fully submarine. Chris 'Disco' Hayes, as we all know, was a submariner. While playing their game, they have the same throwing motion. Moreover, as you think about the entire universe portrayed within the run of The Wire, Snot Boogie is really the only bones thrower in the lot. He is as rare amongst the characters in The Wire as Disco and his ilk are in the ranks of professional pitchers.

Where the character of Snot Boogie and the man we all knew as Disco had their most important shared trait was in their inability to change who they were. Snot clearly had a compulsion to take the money and run that he could not control. Disco had an inability to throw hard enough to make the Royals' front office believe in him.

It was this central shortcoming that ultimately led to their respective demises. Snot Boogie wasn't just beaten mere moments before the series of The Wire commences--he is killed. Just as Disco reached the brink of being a Major Leaguer, the Royals cut him. In fact, leading up to Disco being cut, he was placed on the Disabled List multiple times with what many have suspected were phantom injuries. Each of these stints on the DL leading up to being cut essentially serve the same purpose as the beatings Snot Boogie received: A reprimand for the behavior interpreted as negative by those controlling the payday.

It is obvious that each character leaves an imprint with the fans, despite the fact that Snot and Disco were taken before we could see what they could do.

One may reasonably posit the question that if the Royals front office never intended to give Chris Hayes a chance in the Majors why did they string him along for so long?

McNulty's question at the end of the above clip has its place within the discussion of Chris Hayes.
 If Snot Boogie always stole the money, why'd you let him play?
If they didn't believe in Disco given his shortcomings, why did they let him pitch?

Snot Boogie's friend sums it up pretty well:
Got to. This America, man.
Disco, I think I speak for all Royals fans when I say that I wish you hadn't been shot in the streets over some bullshit.

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