In all the buzz this week over the Dodgers acquiring Jim Thome and Jon Garland (how about that pitching performance last night, D-Back fans?), perhaps not enough has been said about one of the Dodgers' other recent acquisitions, Ronnie Belliard.
I haven't paid much attention to Belliard's career, so it was a little bit of a surprise to see that he was a successful regular with both the Brewers and Indians. I thought he was nothing more than a sometimes-starter guy, but he's put up 169 hits in a season before, hit 48 doubles in 2004 and was once the Brewers' minor league player of the year. Got to pay more attention to those Midwest teams, I guess.
Belliard came into focus much more during the 2006 postseason, when he played for another Midwest team, the Cardinals. He's a pretty solid hitter and can play a lot of positions, which is why the Dodgers dealt for him.
So there is more to Belliard than the stupid corn rows (does he still have those?) and being a member of the baggy uniform patrol (some Nationals fans have called him fat). Here are a few more things about the guy up on that awesome night card:
-- He was born in The Bronx.
-- He was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers.
-- He is a distant cousin of former Braves shortstop Rafael Belliard, which is a relief because I'm sure I've called him "Rafael" more than once.
-- He hit .462 in the 2006 NLDS against the Padres.
-- He was the victim of an extortion attempt in which a man, whose daughter had a relationship with Belliard, was convicted of trying to extort money from Belliard in exchange for keeping quiet about the daughter's alleged pregnancy. I remember reading about this and thinking, "eesh, I'm glad Belliard isn't on my team." Oops.
-- He made one of the most amazing plays I've ever seen from a second baseman.
The Dodgers have quite the collection of players on their team now. I can't even get into all the different personalities there are without turning this into an epic post. But somehow it's working. Right now.