Sunday, September 12, 2010
B.C. (before Clayton)
I think it's pretty well known in blog land that my favorite current player is Clayton Kershaw. I do enough begging for his cards.
This golden oldie -- all the way from 2009 -- came from Jeremy of No One's Going To Read This Blog after I made a pathetic spectacle of myself for the card. I'll show more of the cards that he sent at the end of this post.
But I wanted to write about the evolving process of my favorite player. I have had eight favorite players since I started watching baseball as a kid. I already posted the list on this blog, but it could use some updating, so here it is:
1975-83: Ron Cey
1983-85: Pedro Guerrero
1985-94: Orel Hershiser
1995-99: Raul Mondesi
2000-04: Shawn Green
2005-07: Brad Penny
2007-08: Russell Martin
2009-present: Clayton Kershaw
They are/were all talented players at one point or another, but there aren't a lot of other similarities among the group except that they all played for the Dodgers.
If I had to explain my interest in Kershaw in simple terms, it would be that he's good, he's young, and he has a bright future.
But there are other reasons, too. He's left-handed. He's a power pitcher. He's a good teammate. He seems to be a good guy. All of these things are important to me at this period of time.
That wasn't always the case as you can see with some of the other favorite players:
Ron Cey (1975-82): Cey became my favorite player primarily because of his 1975 Topps baseball card. He had a cool mustache, he had longish hair, he looked like he could mash, and his card featured that giant All-Star star. As I followed his career with L.A., I knew I picked the right guy. He was a clutch performer in the playoffs and the World Series, a good teammate, and, after his career, very accommodating with the fans.
Pedro Guerrero (1983-85): When Cey was traded to the Cubs, it didn't take me long to find a new favorite player. I had known about Guerrero since he was in the minors in the late 1970s, and since he became Cey's replacement at third, it was almost a no-brainer that I pick him as my new favorite player. Both Cey and Guerrero were co-MVPs (along with Steve Yeager) of the 1981 World Series, too. Guerrero was a terrific hitter, but his fielding was frustrating. Later I began to understand that he was rather difficult and he developed drug problems. But that was after I had ditched him as my favorite player.
Orel Hershiser (1985-94): Hershiser was my favorite player for the longest period of time. After the frustrations of Pedro, I was ready to put my support behind someone much more stable. I didn't care that Hershiser was about 4,000 times more nerdy than Guerrero. He was reliable and he was good. His 19-3 season in 1985 clinched my decision. Hershiser was automatic for a long time -- it seemed like he just couldn't lose -- and that was thrilling to someone who had picked him as my favorite. To this day, I say Hershiser is my second favorite player of all-time, behind Cey.
Raul Mondesi (1995-99): By the mid-1990s, I was desperate for a Dodger player who could conquer all of baseball. L.A. finished last in 1992. Rookies Eric Karros and Mike Piazza gave me hope, but I thought Mondesi would be the guy to lead L.A. back to its success of the 1970s and '80s. He could do it all. But unfortunately, he couldn't do enough. His surliness started to get to me, and I wasn't terribly disappointed when he was traded away.
Shawn Green (2000-04): Mondesi was traded for Shawn Green and I stayed in right field with my favorite player. I liked Green a lot when he was a Blue Jay, so this was an easy choice, too. Green produced some great numbers for the Dodgers. I was glad to say he was my favorite, even if I started obsessing about his swing late in his time with the Dodgers.
Brad Penny (2005-07): There wasn't a lot to choose from with the Dodgers during this period. A whole bunch of no-name or undesirable players. Penny didn't start out great for L.A., but he really found his form in 2006 and was the staff ace for two seasons. The idea of a power pitcher who didn't give a shit really appealed to me at the time. Penny fit that description. Dating Alyssa didn't hurt either.
Russell Martin (2007-08): There was a period recently when I didn't have a favorite Dodger player. Russell Martin basically became that player by default. I picked someone who was young and had a good future. Martin was that guy then. He isn't that guy anymore, and his habits and temperament have started to wear on me. But he was good for a little while.
So, that brings me to Kershaw, who became my favorite Dodger at the start of the 2009 season. Who knows what will happen for him, but he seems like the real deal. Perhaps he could end up being my favorite for longer than Hershiser or Cey. And that will mean collecting a ton more of his cards.
Besides the Kershaw, here is what else Jeremy sent:
And it wouldn't be a trade lately if it didn't include some '09 OPC needs:
Getting very close to the end on this one.
He also sent a bunch of A&G This Date in History cards I needed.
Thanks, Jeremy. I just realized that I haven't told you what I wanted on my sketch card. Sorry, I'm an ungrateful winner. I'll get on that right now.