Arrested Development, MLB, and huge mistakes

Harry How

Looking at the MLB season thus far through the lens of Arrested Development's huge mistakes.

I am a married man, and was present for the birth of both of my children, and still I think it's possible that the most nervous and excited I've ever been has been in the hours leading up to the release of Season 4 of Arrested Development on Netflix. In fairness, I may be misremembering because marriage and children conspired to keep me from watching all of the episodes in one weekend. Alas, it was only when my children interrupted me every five minutes to ask me to fix something, or pay attention to them, or give them food so they wouldn't starve did I truly realize that, in being a father, I've made a huge mistake.

For the record, I'm enjoying the new season, though it isn't quite the same as the originals. It's darker, but often still very funny, and the show gets a lot of good mileage out of new recurring characters, to say nothing about the returns of old favorites. I also like that the showrunners have officially recognized that Michael isn't a hero, and that he's just as selfish and deluded as his family, mostly about his pathological need to prove that he's different and better than them, and that the only ones with a chance to be decent people in the entire bunch are George Michael and Maeby.

Anyway, this is actually about baseball, but in honor of the Bluths' triumphant return -- and my horrible decision-making -- here are the huge mistakes that teams and players have made across Major League Baseball this year, and their Arrested Development equivalent.

1) GOB realizes that he can't escape from prison because he is unable to pass the key without a private toilet. (Season 1, Ep. 4)

While I think we can all agree that GOB would have screwed up the prison escape somehow even if he hadn't encountered this obstacle, there's no doubt that he's done in by an unforeseen circumstance, much in the same way that the Rays have sunk to fourth in the AL East thanks to the injury to and struggles of David Price. Price had been one of the best and most durable pitchers in the American League for the last three years, winning 51 games with a 2.93 ERA and 611 strikeouts in 644 innings. Last year, he won the Cy Young Award: The Rays can be forgiven for expecting more of the same. After nine starts, in which he proved very hittable and gave up 39 runs in 55 innings, he went down with a strained triceps. There's no doubt that the AL East is going to be tough to navigate again this year, with four clubs above .500, but with their ace sidelined indefinitely, Tampa is going to need a better escape plan than getting shanked by White Power Bill. Speaking of...

2) After "escaping" jail following a shanking at the hands of White Power Bill, GOB realizes nothing is more important than family, and commits to his girlfriend and her two young sons. (Season 1, Ep. 4)

GOB's caught up in the emotion of almost dying and his rivalry with Michael, so he decides to stick with Marta after planning to dump her for most of the episode. This sets her, him, and Michael up for a lot of heartbreak later on in the first season, much in the same way deciding to stick with Jeff Francoeur has proven to be a horrible decision for the Kansas City Royals. After a surprisingly competent 2011, Frenchy convinced the Royals to re-sign him for two years and $13.5 million. Last year, when he reverted to hitting .235/.289/.315 and was one of the least valuable players in baseball, you would have thought Dayton Moore could have seen the writing on the wall. Instead, he traded his up and coming right fielder (Wil Myers) and others for James Shields and Wade Davis, which has had mixed results. Nevertheless, their contributions haven't been enough to push the Royals over .500, and they're currently 7.5 back in the AL Central. Francoeur, of course, has been even worse. He's hitting .220/.255/.313, has a 54 OPS+, and is well below replacement level.

Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports

3) GOB breaks up with Marta and then goes back to her one week later. (Season 1, Ep. 12)

The Dodgers looked all set to break up with Don Mattingly a week ago, while team was in a tailspin and he was mouthing off in the press about his roster. This week, the Dodgers went 4-3, and Mattingly found a viable scapegoat in Andre Ethier, so it looks like he's safe. It's not so much that getting rid of Mattingly or keeping him is a mistake, but the unwillingness or the inability to squelch the swirling speculation is only going to continue to be a distraction for the Dodgers, and make them a laughing stock.

4) Marta realizes that she loves Michael, not GOB. (Season 1, Ep. 12)

She's got GOB, but she realizes she'd rather have Michael. In fairness, the Braves can have both Justin and B.J. Upton, and it's far too early to call the elder Upton''s free agent contract a mistake, but with Bossman Jr. hitting just .148/.236/.252 while striking out in 34 percent of his plate appearances, the Braves have to be wondering why they just didn't hold out for the better brother.

5) Michael thinks Marta is cheating on GOB with "Hermano." (Season 1, Ep. 12)

This is a horrible miscommunication, in which Michael and GOB believe "Hermano" is the name of somebody. I don't know why GOB doesn't know that; he took four years of Spanish. In reality, Marta is talking about how she actually loves Michael. I'm going to assume, similarly, there was some kind of mistranslation when the White Sox conveyed to their hitters that they wanted them to walk less, and batters like Adam Dunn and Jeff Keppinger somehow heard that they weren't supposed to be walking at all. Even though he's slugged .682 since May 14, Dunn continues to walk at the lowest rate of his career, and has been unable to contribute anything offensively that doesn't go over the fence. Still, that's better than Keppinger, who started his season with 138 plate appearances without a free [ass and has hit .214/.221/.256. The Sox are dead last in the AL in walks by design, and not coincidentally, they've also scored the fewest runs.

6) GOB schemes with George Sr.'s former secretary Kitty to take over the Bluth Company from Michael, but gives up when he realizes that the job is probably too hard for him. (Season 1, Ep. 22)

This is for the Minnesota Twins, who talked a lot this offseason about addressing their abominable starting pitching from 2012, but realized fairly quickly that it would be cost prohibitive to make an immediate impact. Instead, they went with placeholders like Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia, and traded for Vance Worley. The three have combined for a 5.83 ERA and have stuck out just 75 batters in 156 innings. Minnesota also re-signed cannon fodder Samuel Deduno and P.J. Walters as emergency options in case somebody got hurt. With Worley, Liam Hendriks, and Pedro Hernandez back in the minors, the only thing hurting is the Twins' pride, as they willingly turned to Deduno on Friday, and Walters on Saturday.

7) George Sr. disguises himself as his twin brother Oscar and steals the incriminating evidence the family had planned to turn over to the attorneys. (Season 2, Ep. 1)

This one is for all the umpires this season, who are still botching call after call, even when they have video evidence in front of them in some cases that demonstrably proves it. Their incompetence continues to affect the outcome of ballgames, doing far more damage to the integrity of the sport than Pete Rose did (which should, in no way, be considered a defense of Pete Rose). Expanded replay and greater accountability, please.

8) George realizes he shouldn't have run off to Mexico with a baby-crazy Kitty. (Season 2, Ep. 2)

This is for the Angels, who brought in a 32-year-old Josh Hamilton for five years and $123 million rather than letting him return from whence he came. As with B.J. Upton, it's too early to say that Hamilton is definitively destined to be a bust for the Halos, but is hitting .222/.283/.399 with 56 strikeouts in 51 games this year, and .237/.308/.457 with 179 strikeouts since June 1 of last season.

9) GOB smears Steve Holt (STEVE HOLT!) (Season 2, Ep. 14)

Afraid that George Michael is going to get blown out in the election for class president, Michael hires GOB to produce an attack ad targeting Steve Holt. When Steve Holt's own campaign video winds up being about growing up without a father and embracing Jesus Christ, GOB realizes his video (which begins with calling Steve Holt a bastard who doesn't even know who his real father is won't go over well. This goes to Padres president Tom Garfinkel, who made fun of Zack Greinke's social anxiety disorder by referring to the movie Rain Man, and simultaneously offending the mentally challenged and those with social anxiety disorders. He has, however, since apologized and behaved like a pretty stand up guy by all accounts, while GOB went on to steal his nephew's girlfriend. Yes, her.

10) Tobias leaves Lindsey to go to Vegas with Kitty. (Season 3, Ep. 1)

In making his "biggest little mistake," Tobias abandons his wife and daughter to join the Blue Man Group, but winds up working in Reno at Swallows, a family-style restaurant by day and an anything-goes, pan-sexual bazaar by night. This one is for R.A. Dickey, who must have thought he had hit the jackpot in leaving Queens to become the ace of the up and coming Blue Jays. However, Jose Reyes has been hurt, Mark Buehrle has been ineffective, and Josh Johnson ineffective and hurt. That's to say nothing about the struggles of Brett Lawrie, Emilio Bonifacio, Brandon Morrow, Maicer Izturis, and Ricky Romero. Dickey hasn't helped things, with a walk rate almost double what it was last year and a 4.85 ERA. It's been a lot less tuna melt, and a lot more flipping the cushions in the grind room (where they apparently uncovered a 40-year-old Ramon Ortiz and just decided to use him, probably without autoclaving him first) in Toronto this year.

11) GOB accidentally meets and spends time with his son, Steve Holt. (Season 3, Ep. 1)

Getting a letter he believes to be from his missing father, GOB goes to meet with George Sr. at the Sons and Dads Reunion Project, and instead finds Steve Holt, who is also looking for his dad. While neither's father shows up, they hit it off thanks to their many similarities, and go on a son-and-son trip to the Bluth family cabin. On the way, GOB discovers that the letter he received was actually telling him he had a son who was seeking him, and that Steve Holt is his real son. Panicking, he abandons Steve in Reno. This is for the Marlins, who have abandoned and neglected their fans many times in their 20 year history. But perhaps never more so than this offseason, when they jettisoned everyone but Giancarlo Stanton a year after getting a taxpayer funded stadium out of Miami-Dade County. Actually, Jeffrey Loria as vainglorious, clueless, and hilariously immoral magician GOB is a pretty good fit. Now, if only he had enough forget-me-nows for all of Miami...

12) Steve Holt thinks he's slept with his cousin, Maeby. (Season, 3, Ep. 3)

Maeby was trying to avoid her crush on George Michael, who she thought was her cousin, by dating Steve Holt, who is actually her cousin. After inviting him over, ostensibly for sex, she decided instead she wasn't ready, and so rufies him to avoid going all the way with him. Steve Holt is understandably confused and horrified. But he (sort of) gets a father out of the deal when he gets comforted by GOB. This is for the Yankees, whose plans with Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, and Kevin Youkilis have gone horribly awry (which wasn't really a mistake, just misfortune), but have found a way to win using Francisco Cervelli, Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, and Travis Hafner.

13) Michael is about to marry Rita, the M.R.F. (Season 3, Ep. 6)

Michael is fooled by Rita's beauty and English accent into thinking she's an Olympic athlete, secret genius, and manic pixie dream girl. In fact, Rita has the intellect of a kindergartner, which Michael probably would have figured out if he wasn't so self-involved. Boy, I kind of wish the Twins had done the same thing with Aaron Hicks. Fooled by his big spring training, and by their desperate need for both a center fielder and good publicity, the Twins had Hicks skip Triple-A and made him their opening day starter and leadoff hitter. It's become clear that Hicks could have used some additional seasoning. The 23-year-old started out 2-for-48, with eight walks and 20 strikeouts. Since then, he's gotten better...all the way to .208/.252/.396 in his next 103 plate appearances. Hicks never should have been put in this position to begin with, and now with injuries to Darin Mastroianni and Wilkin Ramirez, and Joe Benson lost to waivers, the Twins are committed to him as the starting center fielder for the foreseeable future, and have presumably burned a year of control for somebody who is no more ready for the bigs than Rita was for sleepovers and pop-pop.

14) Lucille puts Michael in charge of the Bluth Company. (Season 3, Ep. 13)

In the original series finalé, Michael's mother Lucille finally makes him president of the Bluth Company, but he promptly cries during his speech and then leaves the ceremony to chase down his son, who is escaping on the family yacht. Believing Michael doesn't have the ruthlessness needed to run the company, Lucille cuts her losses and sells the company to Alopecia-sufferer Stan Sitwell. This is for the Astros, Brewers, Cubs, Padres, Twins, and maybe the Royals, teams going nowhere this year, who would be well advised to cut their losses now, and start thinking about who to jettison before the trade deadline, now that we're past Memorial Day and are almost 50 games into the season.

As new episodes suggest, there's always another season to give it a shot, anyway. You just might have to wait awhile.

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