With the Phillies’ dynasty fixing to end with an impotent whimpering of clueless old men the like of which we haven’t seen since the fall of the Soviet Union, it’s easy to forget about the little things.
Like, I’d completely forgotten that the Phillies had signed Yuniesky Betancourt. It’s easy to forget that Yuniesky Betancourt is on the Phillies when the season is only theoretical. But now, Yuniesky Betancourt has put on a Phillies uniform and played baseball in it, which leads me to consider the following:
Yuniesky Betancourt does nothing well on a baseball diamond. He does not hit, he does not field, he does not run, he does not scrap or grind or any of the other uncomfortable-sounding actions we ascribe to white people who are showy about how much effort they put into the game. Never mind that if they weren’t so unmistakably awful at baseball, they wouldn’t have to try so hard and we wouldn’t be in a constant state of “No, but seriously, man, he’s helping the team win, I promise.”
I’m looking at you, Ryan Theriot.
The point is, Yuniesky Betancourt is a Huxleyan Epsilon among ballplayers. But what if we compare him to a different group of which he is a subset? We know roughly where Yuni stacks up against baseball players, but how does he compare to other Betancourts?
I’ve spent about 30 minutes on Wikipedia researching this topic, which makes me a leading expert in the comparative study of Betancourts. Here are my power rankings:
- Agustin de Betancourt, military officer and engineer. So apparently, back in the 18th Century, Spain sent this guy around Europe to learn about and reverse-engineer emerging technologies. So he went out and came back with steam engines, hot air balloons and the telegraph. Then he switched careers and just kind of went around Russia, constructing buildings and bridges for the Czar, designing Russia’s first steamship along the way. The Russian national railway service, to this day, gives an award out in his name for engineering excellence. You’re going to have to do better than a .290 OBP to beat that.
- Ingrid Betancourt, politician and political activist. In 2002, she was kidnapped by FARC while running for president of Colombia. She spent six years in prison before being released in 2008. I remember when she got out–I was in a bar in Brussels, and everyone was huddled around the TV, watching the coverage on CNN. I spoke good enough French at the time to ask the bartender what all the fuss was about, but not so good that I could understand the bulk of her answer. So you’re going to have to do your own research if you want to know more.
- Nuno Bettencourt, guitarist. Yes, the guy from Extreme. Let’s consult the video.
I love this song. I think everyone loves this song. I love the video, too, for several reasons. First of all, it embraces the fact that this band’s most famous song only requires half of the available personnel, so the bassist and drummer get to sit in easy chairs and listen, one of them reading a magazine and the other petting a dog. Also because it reminds me that I shouldn’t get so nostalgic about the 1990s, because I’m not sure I want to go back to stonewashed jeans and black nail polish. But Nuno ranks this high because he’s able to sing, play the guitar and mess around with his hair all at the same time. That’s multitasking.
- Peter of Saint Joseph Betancur, saint. I know nothing about him, other than being a saint is automatically more impressive than being a shortstop.
- Rafael Betancourt, pitcher. He was absolutely unhittable for the Indians in 2007 and also for the Rockies since 2009. You may remember him from the “Get Me to the Plate, Boys,” game in the 2009 NLDS. Betancourt came in with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the eighth inning and saved Franklin Morales‘ bacon, retiring Pedro Feliz and Carlos Ruiz on four pitches combined. If he hadn’t done that, maybe Ryan Howard wouldn’t have needed to get to the plate the next inning. Anyway, a far superior baseball player to Yuni.
- Romulo Betancourt, politician. One the one hand, he’s called “The Father of Venezuelan Democracy.” On the other hand, Venezuelan democracy is kind of awful nowadays. But then again, “Romulo” is a pretty badass first name. Still better than Yuni.
- Yuniesky Betancourt, shortstop. You know the scene in Stand By Me, where Wil Wheaton’s telling the guys a story about Lard-Ass, the fat kid who throws up during the pie-eating contest? You remember the fire-hose quality of that thick, bluish-purple vomit? That’s the kind of vomit that Yuni Betancourt makes me want to produce.
- Jean de Bethencourt, conquistador. In the 15th Century, Bethencourt led an expedition to the Canary Islands. I know that historically, we’re supposed to grade on a curve, but are we really supposed to give someone credit for making it all the way from mainland Europe to the Canary Islands? In the Age of Exploration, that’s like giving out a participation trophy. I am unimpressed.
So congratulations to Yuniesky Betancourt, the second-worst Betancourt of all time.