The terrible MLB mugshot doesn’t really do him justice (really, every single player looks terrible in their mugshots, even the hot ones! MLB, fire that guy!). Neither does this one, come to think of it, from when Joey was in the minors. I don’t really know what it is about Joe Smith, aesthetically (a clue: my pal Mark saying “You’re gay for any cornfed-lookin’ white boy with a big smile”), but I’m not the only one to have fallen for the kid. Hell, even an SNY announcer (don’t remember which one) once drooled, “Joe Smith has those rosy cheeks, huh?” as Smith had a typical 1-2-3 relief inning.
It’s easy to be in love with Smith, as a Mets fan. The kid has performed spectacularly, surprising just about everyone. Up until giving up a grand slam to the Brewers’ J.J. Hardy a few weekends ago, he had pitched nearly 16 innings with an ERA of 0.00. He bounced right back with scoreless relief work against the Cubs and had that monumental Derek Jeter strikeout in the first game of the Subway Series. His ERA is now 1.45. He also seems to have an almost preternatural abillity to rise to the occasion, no matter how tense it may be (he earned his first major league win after a 12-inning thriller against Colorado).
He also seems to be incredibly charming, and is becoming a bit of a media darling. Part of his appeal is his youth and freshness, which cultivates an endearing sense of naïveté, especially when it comes to aspects of the big city (mets.com has been an invaluable source of hilarity in this regard). First, he started following John Maine from Long Island City to Shea Stadium, and on one occasion, was apparently too tentative on a turn that a horn started honking at him. “It’s 8:20 in the morning, and an old lady is blowing her horn at me,” he said. Cute.
In San Francisco, he was shocked to learn that he spent $58 on two room-service burgers. He opted for room service instead of going out because he was perplexed by San Francisco’s hills. “It seems like you’re going uphill going and coming back.” Cuute. (And true! SF is so hilly. Be more convenient, city by the bay!)
My favorite Joe Smith anecdote, however, is about first parking ticket (let it be known that his NYC driving instructor, John Maine, has had a parking ticket as well as having his car towed. Someone teach these kids about city laws):
“The sign said ‘No standing.’ Well, I wasn’t standing. I was parking,” Smith said. “If they mean ‘No parking,’ shouldn’t it say ‘No parking?’ I mean, I just figured they didn’t want anyone standing there. I don’t know why. I mean, obviously, there are a few things I don’t know about New York.
“But there was a lot of room to park.”
OMG. I could die at how cute that is. It’s like Bambi trying to learn how to walk. Except that this particular Bambi makes big-time hitters look foolish at the plate.