Mastrick’s post about Choi got me thinking. I was a Choi fan from the start; based on an idea of him rather than a reality: that of a power-hitting, patient, mysterious otherlander who would deliver a championship to the team. We’ve seen that there are flaws in his swing, but there’s still time for him to have a very good career…I’m still rooting for him.
There are guys like that all around the league. Guys I hope do well, regardless of a) what they’re physically or mentally capable of, and b) what they have done in the past. Like the Cubs themselves, they’re guys I’m pulling for. Here’s one for each position, and if you notice a Cub bias, allow your eyes to wander to the top of the blog for an explanation.
C: Todd Pratt. Like Mark Parent before him, I was always hoping somebody would give Pratt 400 at-bats, let him hit .280 and hit 25-30 homers. Sure, his defense would be adequate, at best, but the offense would make it worth it. When he homered in place of Piazza in the ’99 NLDS I was saying, “See? See?” to all my annoyed friends. Ignore most of the rest of his postseason play and I was right. Now an Atlanta Brave, he’ll be caddy and Crash Davis to Brian McCann.
1B Hee Seop Choi. Before he ever faced an opposing pitcher, I took Choi’s build, patience, reputation, and big smiley face and anointed him my Next Favorite Cub. I blamed the collision and resulting concussion, and then Dusty, for his failure to blossom as a Cub. Then I blamed the Dodgers. Now I guess I’ll blame the Sox unless he makes a star out of himself, but he’s always above reproach in my mind.
2B Marcus Giles. Forget the Prior collision. He’s a little guy with power and patience. He’s the kind of guy regular guys should root for — the guy scouts don’t notice. I know Giles is already a big name, but I was rooting for him before he got a chance and I’ll be supporting him long after he’s productive.
SS Alex Cintron. I know his limitations, but in Baseball Mogul he was a great player for me many times. I’ve formed an irrational connection with his name (Brian Lesher, Aaron Ledesma, and Mike Holtz are 3 others I rooted for because they served me well in the ‘Mogul universe). In the sideways world of Baseball Mogul ’98, he would hit .310 with 15 homers, a .400 OBP, a .480 SLG, speed, and defense. I loved that version of him. I’m always hoping the real Cintron turns into that kind of player. Even though he couldn’t possibly.
3B Sean Burroughs. I hope this fatboy turns into a post-millenial version of Tony Gwynn. I hope he starts hitting, stays healthy, stays fat, and makes the hall of fame. I can’t explain why except for that I kept getting duplicates of Jeff Burroughs baseball cards when I was a kid and the name stands out, and that he was a Little League champ.
LF Hideki Matsui. He has an intimidating face. He looks like a guy who could whoop up on you. And he has a funny, middle-parted, thick head of hair that looks somehow off sitting above his scary face. Plus, his nickname is “Godzilla,” and he was the first power hitter from Japan to play in MLB, so he was a stereotype-breaker. Go, go, Godzilla! (Also, Matt “Punkinhead” Murton, for obvious reasons.)
CF Gary Matthews, Jr. I know. Bad choice. But he’s the Sarge’s son! The Sarge, man! Plus, he’s so fast! And he made some diving catches! I’m still rooting for him, even though I was half-rooting, half-dreading him as a Cub.
RF Dustan Mohr. This guy has power and patience. I wish him the best, but I get the feeling he’s going to get jerked around his whole career and possibly turn into Jeff Manto.
Carlos Zambrano. Easy pick. I’m behind him 100%. I hope he’s a Cub for 20 years, I hope he wins 20 games for us several times, and I hope he never quite gets control of his temper. Which usually I hate, but it fits him.
Jamie Moyer. Another guy I dreaded as a Cub, but I love that he had a great career afterwards. And he did it all with deception and smarts. Obviously he’s a jock and was probably dominant in high school and the envy of all, but in my febrile mind he’s “Revenge of the Nerds” in real life. I imagine him as a bookish twerp who the jocks beat up on all the time (unlike me, of course). Then, one day, he comes out for baseball practice and nobody does anything better than hit a weak grounder off of him. Yes, these are the kind of criteria I’m using for this list.
Tim Wakefield. I don’t ever want knuckleballers to go away. I want him to pitch until he’s 60 with that ridiculous “windup” and floatin’ knuck.
Now that Jesse Orosco’s gone, I’m pulling for Travis Driskill (another everyman), Huston Street (a UT closer while I lived in Austin), Jae Seo (is he a starter or reliever this year? Anyway, I wanted to mention his name), and Jesse Crain (a success story from Out of the Park Baseball –if the data version of him can be great, why not the real one?)
So without regard to logic and/or reality, who are you rooting for?
In unrelated news, Ryan Klesko’s comment on the Padres site caught my eye. He’s been having some shoulder issues and said
“It’s something I have to deal with until I get it fixed at the end of the year,” Klesko said on Friday night before the Padres hauled out the heavy lumber against the A’s. “It’s bone on bone. The AC joint’s 65 to 70 percent damaged.
“It crunches and pops every time I move it. When it gets caught, it’s going to cause me discomfort. But with the treatments we’re doing to keep the inflammation out of the joint, we’ll get through it. It feels pretty good right now, knock on wood.
“Hopefully, I can get through the year without any setbacks.”
That does sound ok. When it starts to snap and crackle, then you have problems.