Monday, August 31, 2015

A decade in blue, who knew?

A week or so ago, someone floated a trivia question -- I can't remember who, I saw it on Jayson Stark's Twitter account -- asking which four major league players have played a dozen years with one team, and only one team.

The answer was Ryan Howard, Joe Mauer, Yadier Molina and David Wright.

In the process, a number of other wrong guess revealed other players who have played at least a decade with one and only team: Justin Verlander (11), Felix Hernandez (11), Dustin Pedroia (10) and a few others.

And then there was the surprise of the bunch:

Andre Ethier, with 10 years with the Dodgers and only the Dodgers.

Ethier started out with the Oakland A's, but never played for them, was traded in the 2005 offseason, and played his first game for the Dodgers in 2006. Since that time, dozens of players have come and gone in the Dodgers outfield, including the two players you see celebrating with Ethier up at the top -- Manny Ramirez and Matt Kemp.

A few other outfielders who wore out their welcome with L.A. quicker than Ethier: Kenny Lofton, J.D. Drew, Jason Repko, Ricky Ledee, Marlon Anderson, Delwyn Young, Juan Pierre, Jose Cruz, Luis Gonzalez, Brady Clark, Andruw Jones, Xavier Paul, Garret Anderson, Scott Podsednik, Reed Johnson, Tony Gwynn Jr., Juan Rivera, Jerry Sands, Jamie Hoffman, Shane Victorino, Jerry Hairston and Bobby Abreu.

I am stunned by this development, as I'm sure is every rational-thinking Dodger fan. After Ethier's decline from his 2009 season, nobody figured he'd last with the Dodgers beyond 2012. I'm sure he has been offered up for trade in countless deals and he has been the odd-man-out in the outfield for a couple of years.

Yet, somehow, he has survived, almost five years removed from his All-Star seasons, and is the Dodgers' most reliable outfielder this year, batting nearly .300.

I never saw this coming. A few years ago, Ethier was among the "Dodgers I Collect," but I removed him because I didn't want anyone who was about to be traded as someone I collect.

Card companies never saw this coming either. Ethier is repeatedly left out of sizable sets like Stadium Club and Allen and Ginter. He popped up in inserts back in 2009 and 2010, when he was hitting game-winning home runs like every other week, but his insert days are long gone.

Even Ethier's base cards aren't great. His posed shots make him look too much like a dreamboat (which my female connections tell me he is). He looks too deliberate on his action shots, like he's thinking too much. And in the field, Topps always has him gliding under the ball for a one-handed grab. No sliding, no getting himself dirty. It's too plain.

Still, I dug up a few of my favorite Ethier cards. Heck, someone needs to recognize that he managed to pull off 10 straight years with the Dodgers.

I like this card because it shows baby-faced Ethier back when he was part of a grand trio that included Matt Kemp and Russell Martin. Now all his friends are gone.

This card was procured at the height of Ethier mania in 2009. I'll always remember that and the beautiful blue border.

Speaking of blue, Ethier's 2008 blue refractor is so tremendous that I have two of them.

I like this one just because he looks like he's directing some annoyingly confused tourists. "Sedona is THIS WAY!"

Most of Ethier's swings look too deliberate. This is a rare case of him wailing on the ball. I think he got it all.

This one, too. And, of course, I had to show the gimmicked-up sparkle variation.

I'm not much for Triple Threads' "spell it out" ways, but this one is appropriate, as it refers to his four game-ending home runs in 2009. These days we settle for an Ethier home run whenever it happens.

It doesn't look like anything positive occurred on this play, it looks like Ethier was thrown out at the plate. But out of context, he appears to be begging for change.

I have 10 different relic cards of Ethier and six different autographed cards. The Baseball Heroes relics come in many different colors. But I stopped with just this one before things got too crazy.

As you can see, I had a little problem back when Ethier was a big deal.

Times are different and now people like Kershaw and Greinke are the go-to men (the hitters are too busy getting no-hit), but Ethier is still around.

Nobody ever would have guessed.


  1. Daaaaaaaaaaaang. That Ovation is a broken bat card.

  2. I've always liked Ethier and hoped the Mets would one day snag him up.He reminds of Sean Green In everything from his left handed batting down to his demeanor.He's the reason why I bought a box of 2005 Bazooka a few years back.

  3. That Either card from him sitting at the plate with his helmet says Sega on it. That's kinda odd, never thought Sega would be one for baseball cards. Then again, it could be a completely different Sega from the video game company.

    1. It's the same Sega. Sega CardGen was an arcade video game in Japan. The cards were issued in Japan.

  4. Great minds think alike, Big Tone. Two guys from the Dodgers I always wanted the Mets to get. Dee Gordon and Andre Ethier. Still do (although we'll have to go elsewhere for Dee, now).

    1. Id love to have Dee Gordon at the top of our lineup!