Dear Disco Hayes,
As a long-time fan who has followed your career for upwards of two months, I find myself curious about your success. I see that you finished the 2007 season with a 3.10 ERA in A ball–which is obviously pretty damn good. But the following year, you had 1.64 ERA in AA which is–to use a baseball word–“better.” You may have noticed that this year was even better. So the question is: to what do you attribute your improvement?
Dan O., Topeka, KS
Dan-O! Good question, and thanks for your amazingly loyal fandom. Can you believe it’s already been two months? Man, time flies. I typically answer with off-the-wall, smart-alec answers (see below, or most any other fan mail question I’ve answered ever), but aside from calling you Dan-O, which I apologize for, I feel compelled to answer this one honestly and seriously. But, I can’t answer it completely. I have many secrets, and to be honest, I don’t feel right now is the ideal time to reveal my best ones.
I have done a lot of work on the mental side of pitching, and competing for that matter, which has helped me greatly. In my first two professional seasons (and in my collegiate and independent ball seasons prior) I went the majority of the year with an ERA under 2.00 and then would have one or two games where I’d give up runs in bunches and end the season with a 3.00-ish ERA. Still good, but not amazing. In the last two years I have been able to limit damage for the most part (for example since the start of the season in 2008 I have given up one or fewer earned runs in 69 of 71 appearances, and the other two I gave up two each time). I don’t feel like I’m throwing any differently or doing anything significantly differently aside from just not having my bad days be quite as bad. In an interview in February with Baseball Prospectus’ Rany Jazayerli I talked in a bit more detail about mechanical changes that have made me perhaps more consistent with location and movement so if you want more detail, you can read more.
Just came across your blog yesterday, thanks to a shoutout you received from www.thebiglead.com. I’m a big fan already. I also saw that you did an interview with Rany Jazayerli. Do you read Joe Posnanski’s blog? He is far and away the best sportswriter on the planet, and his blog is always thought-provoking, informative, funny, and completely random. I think we need your blog to go on a blind date with his blog, because I feel like there’s real potential for at least getting to second base on the first date (see, I threw a lame baseball analogy in there too that was also a double entendre).
Keep up the good work,
Craig B., Kansas City, MO
I wasn’t that big into Joe’s work until recently. However, recently we have exchanged emails a few times and it’s funny you dropped this entendre because it is so apropos, we had actually been working on a book together which we had preliminarily titled, “Getting to second with Joe Posnanski – The blogs of Joe and Disco.” Our love child (there must have been a throwing error somewhere, if you get my entendre) has already started to lay claim to some royalties from the book, so we may not end up going to press with it, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
P.S. – Were you a wrestling fan? The Disco Inferno was a real treat
I was not, nor am I currently a wrestling fan. If I become one, I will be sure to feast on tapes of the likes of Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Ric Flair, and will occasionally “treat” myself to the Disco Inferno
Hey disco, is there anyway I could have your autograph?
CJ V., Everest, KS
Does your name mean like nine billion nine-hundred ninety-nine million, etc. and five in roman numerals? I’m unfamiliar with ‘J’ but I’m sure Will Shortz will make me learn it some day soon in a crossword puzzle, i.e “42D. Ceasar’s 999,999…999,999,905.”
As far as the autograph, I’m really not sure. You’re in Everest which sounds far and I happen to be extremely intimidated by post offices. Most public government buildings as a matter of fact, freak me out. As a product of generation X or generation .com or whatever we are, I’ve found everyone in post offices is at least three times my age. So, when I do step foot in, I get the feeling everyone stares at me and thinks to themselves, “Ahhhh sonny, found something you couldn’t email, didn’t you? Well, welcome to my world. If you don’t like it here, you should have tried sending things on the Pony Express.” Besides that, when you get to the counter, you have already passed everything you can buy in the store. It never ceases to amaze me. That being said, I tried to send you a ball, and this is what ensued:
Disco: “I would like to mail this autographed baseball.”
Clerk: “Do you have an envelope or a box?”
Disco: “Yes, it’s invisible though, is that OK? No, lady I don’t have an envelope, that’s why I came to this counter. To purchase an envelope or box.”
Clerk: “Well the envelopes are back there, you’re going to have to get one, next in line please.”
Disco: [Goes and looks at a wall of options which make no sense whatsoever and picks out a box that more than triples in size once it is assembled and now he has a small indoor dome within which he could play catch using the autographed baseball. He then goes to the front of the line thinking he’s done his time waiting, but the octogenarian in front shoos him away with a cane. After five more minutes in line, he is back at the front] “Hi, I’d like to mail this autographed baseball.”
Clerk: “Well, do you have stamps?”
Disco: “What the heck are you here for lady?” [Hangs head and retreats]
[Minutes go buy, repeat of beginning of scene]
Disco: “Hi, I’d like to mail this autographed baseball.”
Clerk: “Flat rate or ground?”
Disco: “Those don’t seem to match as options. Something like ground and air I would understand, but ground and flat rate? I’m confused.”
Clerk: [Rolls eyes] “Where’s it going?”
Disco: “Listen I’m just trying to find a way to get an autograph to CJV in Everest, KS”
Clerk: “Is that some type of code?”
Disco: “I said the same thing, lady. I don’t know what it is, but it wants an autograph. Can I just send it the cheapest way please?”
Clerk: “Well the cheapest way is to use that little machine in the corner with no one in line waiting for it.”
Disco: ” “
Clerk: “Next in line please.”
First of all thank you for your response to my Yabuta question. Although I’ve never met him, he always came off as a great guy and I’m happy to know my perception was correct.
I have a new question, although it seems like it should have been asked already. I did a quick search through old Fan Mail Fridays and did not turn up an answer so… Now that you are just a step away from Kansas City and have Rany’s full endorsement, I can’t help but wonder what will be your entrance song. Might I throw into the ring “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps? I know, I know, it’s a bit cliche as far as disco songs go but imagine the great opening rhythm as your image emerges on the giant “crown vision” and a close up of your eyes appears on the long outfield wall screens followed by highlights of you getting weak ground balls and striking out Matt Wieters (it will happen) all while you jog in as the Trammps
repeat “burn, baby, burn, disco inferno”. If that would not be a sight to behold then something is wrong with the world. It might be a fool’s errand to suggest disco music to disco incarnate, but I couldn’t help myself. Just wanted your thoughts.
Will G., Omaha, Ne
P.S. My longtime girlfriend will get yoga trainer certified in a few months. She’s always spouting of Indian yoga terms like it’s everyday language and expects me to understand what she’s talking about. Does it ever get any easier?
Will, Will, Will. Three questions? Two in one email? Trammps?
I have had a fan in the past use a phony email address and an alias to trick me into answering two of his questions. Apparently it was a “vetting process” to have me fill in as the next governor of Alaska. To quote the fan, “With Sarah Palin stepping down, who better to fill the position of “mavericky” Governor than a “mavericky” relief pitcher?” I’m not making this stuff up…because you can’t. Unless you’re Aaron D., of course. I will say, he had me laughing with a very clever email, I shouldn’t pick on him…I digress.
Alright, on to your first question. So far in my minor league career I have come out to “Down Under” by Men at Work. Now, before you all get your Disco Judge Hat’s on and bark that Down Under isn’t disco music, keep in mind, the whole Disco thing has only really taken off in the last year or so. When I picked Down Under, I picked it because (A) it is an outstanding song, (B) the chorus alerts the other team “I come from a land down under”, (C) it alerts the other team they “better run, better take cover,” and (D) it includes the word “Vegemite” in the lyrics.
I used to call myself Disco sometimes in A-Ball, but no one else really used it much. Whereas now Disco is the “Honest Abe” of nicknames, it used to be, say, the Rutherford B. “The Dark-Horse President” Hayes of nicknames. Sorry Uncle Rutherford, I had to go there. Rest In Peace.
Now that Disco is a household name across America, we may need to rethink the intro song. It won’t be without some tough consideration, though. First off, Down Under first came out in 1981. The boys in Men at Work were years ahead of their time, but I just wish they could have been 2-5 more years ahead of their time and come out with this ballad in the late seventies. Either that or I wish I could throw 81. Nah, who am I kidding, Viva le Disco!
So, it will be with a heavy heart, but I think it’s time to abandon the Vegemite and embrace disco.
Close your eyes for a minute and picture this with me: Manager walks out to the mound and lowers his right arm to ankle-level and points to it. Everyone knows what’s about to happen…Kauffman Stadium turns into a full-on seventies dance club. Cue the “Disco Inferno” or the “I Love the Nightlife” or any Hues Corporation, Marvin Gaye, KC & the Sunshine Band, Kool & the Gang, Rick James, Chic, Sister Sledge, Donna Summer, or Diana Ross and the place is up for grabs. I want people tearing off jeans to reveal a polyester base layer and then taking off their hats to the explosion of a full-on afro on their heads. Lower the world’s largest disco ball in front of the world’s largest Big-Tron in center, cut the lights, and start flashing a strobe and other colored lights throughout the stadium. Not a fan will be seated, as vendors will gracefully make their way through the stands on roller skates with trays up above their heads. I’ll Travolta it out of the bullpen and strut my blue suede cleats on to the mound. After eight warm-up pitches everyone, including the other team will forget there’s a baseball game going on in the middle of the “dance floor.” And even if the opposition does remember, the lights will be off, there will be a huge ball of reflective shards sparkling behind me, and lights will be flashing everywhere. If that won’t make me un-hittable, I don’t know what will. I’m picturing my best outings are ahead of me at the “K”.
Now that we have a game plan, the first step, as you have inquired about, is the music. I hate to limit myself to one amazingly bad Disco song, so I think we’re going to have to come up with a list of 25 or 30 songs and provide the media people with the 12″ vinyls. That way the DJ can pick the song and each time out, there will be some new groove that will make you stand up and say “mmm MMM mmm, this is my jam,” as you get up and get funky. Any suggestions?
Woo, I feel like we are spinning back to earth rapidly and I don’t want to land, but alas, here we are at your second question. “Does the yoga-speak get any better?” No, it doesn’t. I struggled for years to try to understand it and just when I thought I had it all down pat I found myself in an embarrassing situation at a local Mexican Restaurant. My wife said something out loud and I immediately hopped on the floor in a push-up position, lowered my torso to the ground and pulled back with my arms swooping my body forward Zeta-Jones style until I found myself in Cobra and then Up-Dog. Turns out my wife had not said “Chaturanga, honey,” but rather had asked me to order her a deep-fried burrito: i.e “Chimichanga, honey”.
It hasn’t gotten much better, but more and more I have taken the route of any time I hear anything in sanskrit from Mrs. Disco, I just say “savasana” and she immediately lies down and goes into a deep meditative state in which, most importantly, she can’t talk. Try it out next time, “savasana”. I think they kind of say it with an ‘h’ like “shavasana”, but don’t take my word, you may end up with a shaved ice or something.
Hey disco, Dan O. here again…I have a second question: Can I be your craziest fan? If you make it to the majors, you’re going to need a crazy and obsessive fan. Everyone knows this. Although I have a pretty busy schedule, I still think I would do nicely. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about being a super, ultra-crazy guy fan who will Selena you, but a more tempered crazy where I send you collages of your face I created in Microsoft Paint. It is a nice balance between “Wow–this great fan is always behind me one-hundred percent,” and “I hope this fan isn’t literally behind me because I think he has mental problems.” Plus, you can take comfort knowing that no matter how far you go, I was there from the beginning.*
Craziest fan, Dan-O!? Your first question seemed so normal. This may work, though. I plan on having hundreds of crazy fans (it’s always been a goal of mine) and I will need one ring leader. It may be a good idea to get a half-crazy, half-normal fan to be a liaison between the rest of “The Inferno” and the real world. Let’s revisit plans for an intro at “The K”. Perhaps we can set up a Mannywood-esque “Discotheque” somewhere in the upper deck where every night hundreds of crazy Disco Fans sit around all game and share printed out quotes from my blog, charcoal drawings of my face, and paper mache figurines of my mechanics, and Disco-autographed plungers (that’s right, I have actually autographed a plunger) and stories about how they can throw harder than me. Then once I get the call from the bullpen and the lights go out and the music comes on, the Discoteque will proceed to go absolutely nuts with all the cameras turn to them for entertainment. I’ll consider you as perhaps being the head of my crazy fans, and will bestow you the position I will call “DJ at the Discotheque”. You’re the front-runner for the DJ position at the Discotheque but I’m going to need at least two emails per day and a few more collages wouldn’t kill you chances.
*about two months ago