A very good friend of mine – I’ll call him Jake – can affectionately be described as a “baseball geek.” While all the rest of us are run-of-the-mill fans of the sport, Jake took it to another level. He played in fifteen fantasy baseball leagues a season and usually won at least half of them; his winnings generally paid for a partial Boston Red Sox season ticket package. He could break down the bat speed and plate coverage of a slugging first baseman, the fielding range of a shortstop or the break on a curveball with the trained eye of a manager. Being with him at a live baseball game was something special. “Beaut,” he’d growl in a harsh and profane Peter Griffin meets J.F.K accent, “Check out the action on Sabathia’s change. Old Man Varitek doesn’t have an icicle’s chance in hell at makin’ any contact.”
Naturally, when he graduated from college he caught on as a video scout for a minor-league team in Rhode Island, and his career skyrocketed like Jonah Hill’s character did in Moneyball (Two years later, he was working for a big league team as their traveling video coordinator, working with prospects and established players to break down their swings or deliveries.
He finally came back to New England over Christmas, staying over at my little apartment for a few days of revelry. The first night home he eagerly opened his laptop and tapped on the screen.
“Beaut, check this out,” he said. Pages and pages of notes and data flew by. “I’ve got every AAA- and AA-level prospect broken down on here. Entire year’s worth of work. This is the stuff that goes into the year-end scouting reports.”
I peered at the screen, picking out phrases like “struggles on inside fastballs,” “plus speed, average arm,” “no command of English at the moment” and “future closer.”
“Sounds great,” I said. “What happens if you lose that laptop?”
He stopped dead in his tracks and cocked his head. “Hey, well, I’m probably lost.”
Jake took my advice and signed up for ElephantDrive, uploading every page of his writings to the Cloud. Now, the entirety of his 2011 notes on every player in the organization are safe and secure on the internet, protected in case of ballpark theft, airline incompetence, or just general airheaded-ness on Jake’s part.
I told Jake later my one regret was that his suggestions and advice might eventually bring his team a World Series title over my beloved Boston Red Sox.
“Hey, don’t worry, beaut,” he said. “We’re gonna be terrible this year. Trust me.”