Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Still holding on
Sometimes being a baseball fan means losing touch with all rational thought.
I was over at Community Gum the other night, keeping tabs on the massive Fleer break. Jon was busting a box of 2001 Fleer Platinum, a rather average set that I value anyway because I wasn't collecting in 2001.
Like a total dweeb, I had one page open to Jon's video break, another page open to my want list, and another page open to teamsets4u.com. I needed three Dodgers to complete the team set for Fleer Platinum, and I wanted to see if I got them all.
The three players I needed were Darren Dreifort, Chan Ho Park and Gary Sheffield. But the player I really wanted was Dreifort. I have always had an irrational attachment to Dreifort. Not irrational in any kind of stalker sense, but just irrational in the sense that I have never really stopped thinking that he is going to be a future Koufax.
Yes, I realize that's ridiculous.
But anyway, I was watching Jon break open packs. He pulled the Chan Ho Park card. A few packs later, he pulled the Sheffield card. That was great, but then packs and packs went by and there was no Dreifort card. As the packs dwindled down to the final few, there was some nonsense about a Tom Seaver jersey card and a John Smoltz parallel, but nothing about Darren Dreifort.
Finally, Jon came to last pack. He opened the wrapper ... and the first card revealed was Dreifort.
I think part of the excitement of getting the Dreifort card, was this article that appeared on the Dodgers' site last week. The author talked to Dreifort who was in Dodgers camp, and the article insinuated that Dreifort was considering a comeback at age 38.
Now, the rational side of me knows that the possibility of this happening is almost nil. Dreifort could barely keep from falling apart at age 27. The guy had "danger" stamped on him for years. If the completely lost 1995 season wasn't a tip-off, then the name Scott Boras certainly was. Dreifort had a losing record, an above 4 ERA and hasn't thrown a major league pitch since 2004. There is no way he's going to find a spot in a major league rotation if he hasn't been on a mound in seven years.
But the irrational side of me says, "Come on! Give him a chance! He's got to be better than what we have in the bullpen now!"
I have always thought this way with Dreifort. When he would go on the disabled list for the 63rd time, I shrugged and said, "He'll be back. And he'll be better than ever."
When he signed that massive $5-year, $55 million contract in 2001, every other Dodgers fan thought it was ridiculous, a scheme by Boras, and a jinx. I thought it was a prelude to greatness.
And, now, years after the subsequent pain of nine wins in five years, Dreifort waltzes into spring training, bringing to the surface all of those irrational thoughts again.
Somewhere, way back when, I must have received a promise, a promise that Darren Dreifort was going to be the best pitcher for the Dodgers since Koufax and Drysdale. And there's part of me who won't let go until that promise is fulfilled.
So, if Dreifort, somehow, some way, ends up on the mound in a major league game this year, everyone else will be thinking:
"This is pathetic. Is this what the Dodgers have become?"
But I'll be thinking:
"All right. Dreifort's back! All-Star Game here we come."
I'm sure there are players like this for lots of other teams. But hopefully their fans are a lot more level-headed than I am. It'll be sad if I'm 78 and Dreifort is 70 and I still think he's got potential.