This Sunday night is the big season finale for Mad Men, one of my favorite shows on television. Since I’m the type of person that likes to combine my obsessions whenever possible (baseball and cows, for example), I decided to look for links between various Cleveland Indians and characters on Mad Men. Obviously that means pairing up men with some of the female characters, but as you’ll see, I looked to link personalities and/or experiences with the players, coaches, and their fictional on-screen counterparts.
Don Draper – Mark Shapiro. Don Draper is the suave head of creative. Whether he’s bringing people to tears talking about the Kodak Carousel, or getting the office fired up about Jaguar, his mind is always working and trying to develop the best sales pitch. Even after the office celebrated a small victory when they landed “their car,” it still wasn’t enough for Don. He wanted the bigger fish; the Dow Chemicals and the Firestones. Mark Shapiro, as president of the Indians, also has to put together a perfectly-spun image about the Indians. Even during two different rebuilding campaigns, Shapiro still dazzled fans with thoughts of a super team that could contend each season. Like Don Draper, he probably won’t rest until he lands the big fish – a World Series title. Alternative possibility: Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez. I thought of this one just because of the identity issues. Dick Whitman creatively reinvented himself as Don Draper and found success, but remembered to take care of the people involved in his scheme (like Anna). Even though Don’s wife left him when she found out the truth, the Indians didn’t abandon Carmona/Hernandez (yet). In a very similar fashion, Carmona/Hernandez reinvented himself as a younger player and found success in the majors. He took care of the real Carmona’s family, but instead of growing closer, they turned on him in the end.
Roger Sterling – Grady Sizemore. Roger Sterling is funny and charming, always ready to bring levity to the situation with a one-liner. There’s a problem though – somewhere along the line he lost his sales mojo. He lost Lucky Strike and wasn’t able to bring in any replacement business. Despite that fact, he still does okay with the ladies, whether it’s his ex-wife Jane, or a coat check girl. Grady Sizemore is still able to impress the ladies; I’m sure that Grady’s Ladies still lies dormant somewhere in northeast Ohio, waiting for Sizemore’s (hopefully) triumphant return. However, decimated by numerous injuries over the past few years, he’s a mere shell of the ballplayer he once was. No matter how hard he tries, he just can’t seem to get back to the Sizemore he used to be.
Peggy Olson – CC Sabathia. Peggy Olson is an extremely talented copywriter who comes up with powerful ad campaigns despite the fact that people tend to think less of her because she’s a woman. While not completely unhappy at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, she can’t help but wonder what the world is like outside of SCDP. In the end, she’s seduced by a high wage and the idea that there was no way for her career to continue to grow at SCDP. Even though she’s leaving, she acknowledges that it was a special place for her, and that the company helped start her career. CC Sabathia was an extremely talented pitcher, who was often harshly judged for his unique, large physique. He may have been happy with the Indians, the team that drafted him and gave him his start, but he couldn’t help wondering what riches and experiences lie outside of Cleveland. In the end, he took his talents elsewhere, for more than he probably imagined.
Paul Kinsey – Ryan Garko. Paul Kinsey always kind of struck me as a relatively important copywriter at the old Sterling Cooper. He seemed talented and intelligent, and looked kind of dignified walking around with his pipe. Then when it came time to form the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, they chose Peggy to come with them instead of Kinsey. He bounced around a bit after that, working for several different ad agencies and the A&P before ending up as a Hare Krishna. When Peggy talked candidly about his career trajectory, even she didn’t seem to know just what exactly happened to Kinsey after he left, just that he bounced around a lot. Ryan Garko kind of seemed like “the man” in 2007 when the Indians made their playoff run. Soon after, he was gone – bouncing around between the Giants, Mariners and Rangers organizations until he ended up in Korea. Now he’s back in the U.S. playing for the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits. At least to my knowledge, he never became a Hare Krishna though.
Lane Pryce – Eric Wedge. Lane Pryce was mostly a quiet guy who got a lot of grief from numerous aspects of his life. He was the brains behind the operation at SCDP, at least in a financial sense, for several years. After Don could no longer trust him to work at the agency, he was forced to let him go…telling him to think of an eloquent exit over the weekend. As manager of the Indians, Eric Wedge was obviously the brains behind the operation for several years. When the Indians lost faith in him, they had to let him go. Thankfully, Wedge’s idea of an eloquent exit was to go manage in Seattle instead, rather than hanging himself from his office ceiling.
Pete Campbell – Chris Perez. I had a hard time thinking of someone to pair with Pete, because he’s a complete slime ball. Sure, he looks pretty put together and has his nice house in the suburbs, but he’s also forced himself on a neighbor’s nanny and in a not-so-subtle manner asked Joan to act as a prostitute for the good of the company. There’s nobody on the Indians that is even close to Pete’s repugnant behavior. Instead, I decided to think about Pete’s business strategy. He may make people angry, he may make co-workers want to punch him in the face…fact is, he’s good at what he does and he gets the job done. Fans may be upset by Chris Perez’s comments about attendance and free agents avoiding Cleveland, but the fact remains that he gets the job done.
Megan Draper – Jason Kipnis. I wasn’t sure what to think of Megan when she was introduced and quickly engaged to Don at the end of last season. She certainly seemed cool, both in the office and when she was helping Sally mop up her spilled milkshake in California, but I still wasn’t sure what to make of the character. Once this season started, you saw that Megan may have a fiery temper at times but also happens to be one of those girls who are good at everything. Whether she’s writing ad copy, hanging out with Sally, or auditioning for an acting role, she seems to excel. I wasn’t sure what to make of Kipnis as he prepared for his first full season at the major league level. Would he bomb and get sent to the minors for a while, or would he be a star right off the bat? He seemed to be the youthful infusion the Indians needed at the top of the order, and so far, has proved that he’s one of those guys that are pretty good at everything. He’s hit for average, he’s one of the leaders in the American League in stolen bases, and he hits for power.
Freddy Rumsen – Johnny Damon. You get the impression that back in the day, Freddy Rumsen used to be a pretty good copy writer. He may have had his share of issues over the years, but he’s always a friendly guy willing to help a young protégé like Peggy to get an edge in the business. Even though Freddy is sober now, you get the feeling that his best day are behind him. He’s working mostly as a freelancer and seems eager to try and get some work to head his way from SCDP after Peggy leaves. Like Freddy, Johnny Damon was once a great player. While alcohol may have limited Freddy’s career to a certain extent, it was probably Damon’s poor throwing arm that kept a great player from being an amazing player. Damon’s in the twilight of his career, but you get the impression that he’s still willing to mentor the younger guys. Maybe if he’s lucky, a little work will get sent his way.
Joan Harris – Shin-Soo Choo. While Joan may gather a lot of attention for her looks, you can’t deny that she’s extremely bright and capable in her job, albeit somewhat underappreciated. She thought she was finally in for a life of relative comfort when she got engaged to Dr. Greg Harris (or as I like to call him, Dr. Rapist) before he broke the news that he planned to work as a military doctor in Vietnam. When her husband decided to re-up for another tour in Vietnam, did Joan just smile, shrug, and say “okay?” Nope. She fought back, lashed out at Dr. Rapist, and basically told him their marriage was over if he left. The circumstances that led to her partnership in SCDP were sad and unsavory, but at least the hardworking Joan finally got the payday, and the power, she deserved. Shin-Soo Choo is also hard working and talented, and had his own run of bad luck in 2011 in the form of a DUI and injuries, including a broken hand from rogue Jonathan Sanchez pitch. When he was hit by multiple pitches early in the 2012 season, he again faced the wild Sanchez. Did he take his errant pitches in stride…just smile, shrug, and say “okay?” Nope. He lashed out at Sanchez and sparked a benches clearing brawl between the Indians and Royals. Like Joan, Shin-Soo Choo is probably due a pretty hefty payday in the relatively near future when he reaches free agency. He won’t have to bed a sleazy Jaguar salesman though – he’ll just let agent Scott Boras do the dirty work for him.
Bert Cooper – Sandy Alomar Jr. Does anybody really know that much about Bert Cooper? He was one of the founders of the original Sterling-Cooper, along with Roger’s father, but other than that and his proclivity for going without shoes in the office, little is known about Bert Cooper the man. He does sort of serve as a founding father figure, of that mature, voice of reason that brings the rest of the group back to Earth (unless the subject is pimping out Joan, then he’s all for it). Does he even do any actual work anymore, as far as day to day office business goes? Even though you may never see it on screen, you get the impression that he’s doing something important while he’s locked away, shoeless, in his office. Sandy Alomar Jr. may not play on the field anymore, but he serves as a mentor and a voice of reason through his position as a coach. Back in the 90s, he was one of the founding fathers of those great squads that reached the playoffs each year. While we may not see him out there on the field every day, since he is no longer the first base coach, we can be sure that he’s still working hard to provide guidance to the Tribe’s young players. He’s probably also wearing shoes while he does it.
Betty Draper Francis – Ubaldo Jimenez. Much like Pete Campbell, I had a hard time finding someone to pair with Betty. She comes across as a petulant child, verbally abusing her own kid and just acting like a miserable human being in general. There’s nobody on the Indians that I felt coincided with that kind of personality. Instead, I looked at the trajectory of Betty’s life and compared it to the trajectory of Ubaldo Jimenez’s career. There was a point when Betty, a former model, was the perfect wife and homemaker for Don. Sure, he cheated on her all of the time, but you got the impression that there were some good times. It seemed like she had everything – the large suburban house, the handsome husband, the nice car, gorgeous clothes – everything was going well. Then she learned of Don’s likely infidelities and the fact that he lied about his identity for years. Even though she moved on and remarried Henry Francis, Betty is a shell of her former self. Her one true asset, her beauty and her desirability, seems to have disappeared due to her weight gain (in her mind). She lives in a huge Victorian home with a loving husband, but still seems bitter and jealous about Don’s posh Manhattan apartment and his “child bride.” Jimenez appeared to have everything in Colorado; he was a dominant pitcher who hoped to remain with the team for a long time, possibly his entire career. Instead, Colorado shipped him out of town for two younger pitchers, inevitably staking their future on Alex White and Drew Pomeranz rather than Jimenez. Even though he seems to have found a place in Cleveland, he hasn’t been able to return to his former dominance on the mound in a consistent fashion. The fight late in spring training between Jimenez, Troy Tulowitzki and the Rockies, seems to show that even though he’s moved on, some of the bitterness remains.
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