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Does anyone remember Mike Gimbel?

Jan 18, 2013, 8:25 AM EDT

mystery man

I’m sure several people in Boston do, but most people can be forgiven if they don’t know that name.  Mike Gimbel was Bill James before he was Bill James.  At least as far as being a stathead consulting for the Boston Red Sox was concerned.

Rob Neyer told his story back in 2002. The short version: Inspired by James’ Abstracts, Gimbel began writing his own baseball analysis in the late 80s and it caught the notice of incoming Expos GM Dan Duquette who hired him as a consultant. He was useful in Duquette’s makeover of the Expos and Duquette brought Gimbel with him when he took over the Red Sox a few years later.  There his baseball ideas continued to be good ones but his P.R. savvy was less-than-good. When the luddites in the Boston press got wind of Gimbel’s gestalt they mocked him, he handled it poorly and eventually his contract wasn’t renewed. He never had another job in baseball.

Oh, and he once made the New York Times after his Brooklyn apartment was raided and several live alligators were confiscated.  Alligators which he let the neighborhood kids come in and pet.  To which I say, hey, he who is without sin cast the … no, wait. That’s just friggin’ bizarre.

Anyway, I completely forgot about Gimbel and his story until a column he wrote excoriating the BBWAA for their treatment of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens was linked over at Baseball Think Factory yesterday. It’s on the Workers World website of all places. And, while he and I may ultimately come down in the same place with respect to Bonds and Clemens, Gimbel’s argument is rather incoherent. He cites racism as a motivator of the anti-Bonds crowd when there is zero evidence of that being the case (and when it conflicts with the basically identical treatment Clemens has received). It refers to baseball owners’ profit motive in ways that do not square with their behavior today as opposed to 15 years ago.  It’s a strange read, hitting most of your classic communist tropes, and suggests a guy who is looking to fit an event into a world view which he feels has great meaning rather than trying to assess something and figure out what it means.

Beyond that, though, there’s no real point to this other than, man, I had completely forgotten about Mike Gimbel. And that between his past with the Expos and Sox, the alligator thing and writing this kind of rebop for a communist website, I bet there is a FANTASTIC movie to be made about this guy’s life. Really, somebody get me Charlie Kaufman on the phone, pronto.

(thanks to Stephen Keane for hipping me to the alligator thing)

  1. lewp - Jan 18, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    Slow day at the office Craig?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jan 18, 2013 at 8:42 AM

      Sorry. Haven’t yet received your memo running down all of the things I should be covering today. Please let me know when you have it assembled.

      • fanofevilempire - Jan 18, 2013 at 9:54 AM

        Thanks for the update, how could I have lived another day without knowing
        what happened to what’s his face. I will sleep better tonight.

    • mrfloydpink - Jan 18, 2013 at 11:51 AM

      WTF is the deal with the people who complain about a particular story being posted? Here’s an idea: If the subject matter is not of interest to you: DON’T READ IT.

      For my part, I like a few random pieces like this one. I can only read so many articles in a row about players who managed to avoid arbitration.

  2. heyblueyoustink - Jan 18, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    I thought he was the dude looking for the one armed man?

    • Gobias Industries - Jan 18, 2013 at 8:57 AM

      Duh, you’re thinking of Dr. Craig Kimbrel.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 18, 2013 at 9:01 AM

        Isn’t he the closer for the braves?

  3. 18thstreet - Jan 18, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    On behalf of RandyG, who is probably typing this as I do:

    “OMG! Of course the Red Sox hired a commie! Boston! Commie! Kenya! Soemthing about ACORN!!!!!11!!!”

    • chill1184 - Jan 18, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      Your confusing Randy with Barrywhereareyoufrom

    • heyblueyoustink - Jan 18, 2013 at 10:03 AM

      I dunno, I mean Acorns are kind of shady. What are they hiding underneath that tough exterior anyways? What evil lies in the hearts of the acorns?

    • stlouis1baseball - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:18 PM

      Hahaha! LOL! Hahaha!
      For some reason….I find this the funniest.
      “Something about ACORN!!!!!”

      Aces…we both are fully aware of where we stand on the political aisle.
      But I gotta’ hand it to you…
      That shit is funny!

  4. historiophiliac - Jan 18, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    His affinity for alligators suggests that he is a commie of the Cuban variety, as opposed to the traditional Stalinists — who, of course, keep mink (the people’s mink, that is).

    • snowbirdgothic - Jan 18, 2013 at 10:12 AM

      “Minsk”. The town’s name is spelled “Minsk”.

  5. digbysellers - Jan 18, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    What a grump

  6. steelers88 - Jan 18, 2013 at 10:00 AM


  7. moogro - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    Lance Armstrong will probably get into the gator thing soon. It happens. With yellow charm bracelets.

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