John Smiley Is Not

The authors of the little-known pamphlet Freakonomics noted that a person’s name can have a momentous effect on their socioeconomic and personal well being. As someone whose last name has often been rhymed with the act of regurgitation, I can attest to this unfortunate reality.  Though perhaps both the psychological trauma and hilarity of the ritualistic substitute teacher roll call is overrated, the sins of the parent can certainly be borne by the child, at least in terms of getting beat up in middle school.

One’s moniker can also bestow counter-intuitive outcomes. A well-known example of this is the brothers, Winner and Loser Lane, who grew up to become a repeat convict and a detective, respectively. Though we are dabbling in the softest, coziest of sciences, the conjecture is that both Lanes were treated, and therefore shaped, differently by their environment. Baseball, for its part, reinforces this lazy postulation: Win Remmerswaal fulfilled his destiny a mere three times, Bob Walk relinquished an uninteresting 3.27 per nine, and figures like Prince Fielder, Homer Bush and Josh Outman have provided equally false advertising.

So, too, seems to be the case for John Smiley, who in his tender youth, and at the height of his powers and optimism, appears already bracing for the approaching jest.


Here, for the sake of comparison, is an artist’s rendition of what a John Smiley smile might actually look like:


One of these, of your choosing, has been your daguerreotype of the afternoon.

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Patrick Dubuque writes for NotGraphs and The Hardball Times, and he served as former Bill Spaceman Lee Visiting Professor for Baseball Exploration at Pitchers & Poets. Follow him on Twitter @euqubud.

74 Responses to “John Smiley Is Not”

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  1. Thanks, Comcast says:

    A glaring omission: Grant Balfour, who has walked batters at a fitting rate of 6.64 per nine this season.

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Rob says:

    Does Homer Bailey’s career HR/9 rate of 1.04 count? It’s above the league average of 0.88, so he’s kind of homer-prone.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. ReuschelCakes says:

    D5 looks like a smile

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Anonymous says:

    A point in the author’s favor: Josh Outman has been fairly poor at getting outs.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. John Elway says:

    Why the long face?

    +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Robert Hombre says:

    From the omniscient perch of FanGraphs’ readerdom, it appears as though “John Smiley Is Not Inserting Bo Porter’s Name Into Common Computer Prompts.”

    As empirical and logical proof, I provide this image, which, to commemorate the yawning savagery to which FanGraphs shall return upon NotGraphs’ death, is saved in 16-color bitmap.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. jcxy says:

    Quentin Jammer excelled as jamming opposing WR’s at the line of scrimmage.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. MustBunique says:

    Tyler Chatwood will not shut up.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. tz says:

    Quinton McCracken was released.

    Four times.

    +28 Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. ScrappyPunto says:

    Building on your argument, Hunter Pence is paid completely in US dollars.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Pat Burrell says:

    I’m glad my folks didn’t name me Pedro Feliz.

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Darkstone42 says:

    A probably not especially interesting but rather coincidental note, as I clicked on this article, Nat King Cole’s “Smile” came on the radio. Nat King Cole had a message for John Smiley, it seems, and that message was to embrace his (Smiley’s) namesake and, ultimately, his destiny, I think.

    I, too, come with a message. That message is #KeepNotGraphs.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. David B says:

    Cespedes does spend suspicious amounts of time surrounded by grass. But whether he is in fact identifiable as a plurality of lawns remains subject to controversy.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Antonio Bananas says:

    So, what are all these people named Jones craving all the time?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Jake says:

    Someone find out if Antonio Bastardo’s parents are married…

    +23 Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Chris Bootcheck says:

    I don’t actually check boots or boot checks.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. tz says:

    Phil Leftwich was the only righty in the Angels’ 1994 starting rotation.

    +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Drew Smalley says:

    I always wondered about Tim Belcher

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. JackS says:

    When Tim Raines, it pours.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. DD says:

    I heard Greg Gross never washed his jock.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Reggie Cleveland says:

    Khalil Greene is not green.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. Randy Johnson says:

    It always lasts longer than four hours, and I never call a physician.

    +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. Johnny Dickshot says:

    I most certainly did not Nick Johnson.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. Paul G. says:

    Win Mercer had a losing record. To make it more extraordinary, “Win” was his nickname!

    Then again Phenomenal Smith was not remotely phenomenal.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Randy Wolf says:

    Canis Hornius.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. Wonderful Monds says:

    I, quite frankly, Aam wonderful!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. Dick Pole says:

    Let’s just say John Elway has me beat…

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. Jarrod Saltalamacchia says:

    I’ll reach into the stands to catch a pop-up. Never once jumped a thicket.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. matt w says:

    Eric Plunk had thirty-some career HBPs. I don’t know if this is a lot. But his baseball-ref ID is plunker01.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  30. Rusty Kuntz says:

    In my case, yes and no…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. Candy Cummings says:

    I never did become a porn star.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. Rusty Kuntz says:



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  33. JimmyD says:

    I see a smirk in the upper-right picture. Kinda like a “Mona Lisa” smirk.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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