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Is Your Bobblehead Trying to Kill You?

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A closer look at the practice of acquiring bobbling heads.

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Cincinnati Reds v Miami Marlins
So...many...bobbleheads...
Photo by Jason Arnold/Getty Images

Guys, we need to talk.

This has been on my mind for a while. At first I dismissed it as me being a pessimistic cynical thunder cloud, bringing rain with me wherever I go. Then, I thought it was the hipster within my brain that automatically disdains all things popular and fun. But it’s been a few years now and these feelings haven’t dissipated, so we need to have a chat.

Bobbleheads are stupid and you are crazy for liking them.

Phew. Okay. I feel a little better. Before you attack me for this blasphemous statement hear me out. Focus now. Pull yourself away from the mesmerizing stare of vacant eyes that never let you out of sight. Look away from the vapid smiles frozen on oversize heads that taunt you as you go about your life.

Haven’t you people ever read a Stephen King novel or seen a horror movie? Are you sure that Woody and Buzz Lightyear aren’t causing trouble amongst your brood while you’re away? (If you don’t categorize Toy Story as horror, I’m not sure what movie you were watching. It’s terrifying.) Those painted on smirks hide true evil beneath their indolent exteriors.

You acquire those swollen headed dolls with strangely rotund bodies at baseball games. They are free (so long as you pay for a ticket and arrive early enough to beat the scavenging hordes) and you, a free human being with free will, will flock to Free like a bird to a clean window. Your family, friends, coworkers, and mail carrier all know you like baseball so they will gift you any random bobbles they find. You’ll happily, gleefully, accept them — for they are free — yet you’ll likely sequester them in a closet because you have nowhere to display them.

At some point in the future—you’re moving, you need to use the closet to hang the coats for which it was intended, it’s many years in the future and you’ve died and your heirs are holding an estate sale—you will peer into that closet and find those bouncing rascals have multiplied. “Weren’t there just three of them?” you’ll ask your bewildered spouse as you stare at 800 bobbleheads smiling, nodding, plotting. You’ll close the closet door, back slowly away, and set fire to your home. It’s the only escape.

The true test of possessions these days is to Kon Mari them. Search your home and gather your bobbles in one place. It’ll be like a cute little bobblehead convention. Pick up each bobble and hold it in your hands, asking yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” You will find that it does not bring you joy; it is simply linked to the desire-possess-hoard cycle of consumerism. Squelch the desire to hurl the offending bobble against the closest wall; it will only regenerate like a worm cut in half. You must pack the bobbleheads in a box along with bricks and deposit them in deep, deep water. Take my word for it before it’s too late.

Bobbleheads are modern day evil incarnate. They are a horror movie waiting to happen. They breed and multiply. Their acquisition and consumption is a microcosm of the worst aspects of greater American consumerist society.

Okay, maybe you’re not paranoid. Maybe you just like them. Maybe you think the bobbling heads will detect the Big One and give you enough time to seek shelter before everything collapses on you. (Spoiler: It’s the massive mudslides following the earthquake that will kill you.) You can like your likes. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you when you walk up in the middle of the night surrounded by an army of squat bobbling baseball players closing in on you.

I see that my warnings are falling on deaf ears. I must accept that bobbleheads are a thing that exists. Superstition and common sense will not do in this debate.

Let’s look at the numbers!

First Bobblehead Day: Ichiro, July 28th, 2001

Most Bobbled Player: Ichiro, 11 solo bobbles, 1 shared (I’m not sure if today’s should add 1 or 2 to his total); Felix Hernandez is in second place with 10 bobbles and 1 new bobble this year.

Overall Player Performance: On their bobblehead day, it’s a fairly even split between good and bad games for offensive players. Three players (Ichiro 2001 & 2008, Raul Ibanez 2007) had WPAs over 1. Two players (Ichiro 2006, Kyle Seager 2015) had WPAs of -1. Otherwise, it’s a fairly even split between positive and negatives, skewing slightly positive.

Best Offensive Performance: Using WPA, Raul Ibanez in 2007 with a 0.190 WPA.

Most Exciting Offense Performance: Robinson Cano in 2016, drove in the winning, and only, run.

Best Pitching Performance: Hisashi Iwakuma in 2014, pitched 8.2 innings and only gave up 2 runs while striking out 8.

Pitchers: Felix has pitched 3 times on his bobblehead days, Iwakuma has pitched 1 time. Of the 4 starts, only 1 (Felix in 2013) was not a quality start. In Felix’s 3 starts he struck out 29 and walked 5.

Win/Loss Records: The Mariners have had 55 bobblehead days for a record of 28 and 27. 3 of those wins were walkoff wins. The Mariner’s total record during that period has a .509 winning percentage; however, that includes the 2001 season. It seems that there’s slight boost on bobblehead days.

Attendance: Best attended bobblehead day was Raul Ibanez in 2007 (46,170), the worst attended was the dual Mike Cameron and Mark McLemore in 2011 (19,321).

I must concede that there may be worse promotions than bobbleheads. After all, twice this season the Mariners will reward your game attendance with a bag of dirt (for burying the bobbleheads perhaps?).

So, enjoy Ichiro Bobblehead Day today, you crazy bobble lovers. In fact, I’ll be at the game. Come find me and say hi/yell at me for writing this. I’ll be the one without a bobblehead.