Monday, April 27, 2009

Winning Ugly

The Common Man watched the Twins get bullied around by the Rays' Jeff Niemann, who seems to have cornered the market on ugly this year. Indeed, The Common Man wants to go so far as to call Niemann the ugliest player in the game today. He's no Don Mossi, mind you, but at 6'9", Niemann already just appears huge. Every part of him seems just slightly stretched out, including his face. His face seems to have been pulled, like very pale taffy (dude, you pitch in Tampa, get a freaking tan), becoming overly thin and long. And it's bumpy, like bread dough left unrolled and unshaped on the kitchen counter. His nose is almost a perfect triangle, jutting down from the middle of his forehead and hanging over his upper lip as though it were the old RF upper deck in Tiger Stadium. He is, by far, the gawkiest looking player in the game today, and The Common Man defies you to find uglier in the game today (in fact, he'd love it if you did).

After all, the ugly players from each decade were always The Common Man's favorite part of the Bill James Historical Abstracts. James (and his research assistants) combed through thousands of photos to find the ugliest of the ugly. Some of his favorites:

Grasshopper Jim Whitney was a decent starter at the dawn of the National League, finishing 191-204, but also displaying a lot of ability with the bat. James quotes a reporter who wrote that Whitney had "a head about the size of a wart with thge forehead slanting at an angle of 45 degrees."

Pete Vuckovich won the AL Cy Young in 1981 in the fourth year of a five year run of pretty goodness, which culminated (1982) in the Brewers' only trip to the World Series. And he managed to do all that while hiding his apparent Romulan Origins.

Fred Tenney played 17 years for the Boston Beaneaters/Doves and the New York Giants, and was the regular first baseman for the Giants in 1908 when Fred Merkle forgot to touch second base. The Common Man has plans to read Cait Murphy's Crazy '08, but is afraid he'll have to look at more pictures of Tenney's sketchy accountant mustache and haircut. If the 1908 season ever gets made into a movie, who plays Tenney? Is Steve Buscemi a given?

But The Common Man's favorite ugly player, by far, is Joe Martina, a minor league star who spent 1924 and won a World Series with the Senators, who must have sent him down because they couldn't bear to look at him anymore. This withered, smiling hobgoblin you see above was just 34 years old, and would (inexplicably) live another 28 years. How is this possible when he was clearly suffering from the advanced stages of "oh my God, is that a corpse?" in the mid-1920s?


Bill said...

Ha...excellent. But a year or so too early. I've gone looking at Jeff Niemann pictures, and I've seen some horrifying things. But nothing that can quite compare to this...

I wonder if it's the time/distance/B&W that makes guys like Mossi humorously unfortunate-looking? RJ and Niemann really don't have the same thing going for them...

lar said...

Tenney has a little Gollum in him, don't you think? Maybe we can wire Andy Serkis up in some motion capture suit again to play him in the movie... it'd be fantastic.

Jason @ IIATMS said...

I see your challenge and I raise you, sir. I humbly present, for your amusement and disgust:


he's a sickly combination of Droopy Dog, a sundial nose and a lack of chin, buried under a mop of stringy hair.