(The fourth in a series: I’m picking one player that I associate with a team (whether they spent the majority of their career there or not) that I would strongly consider adding to my official want lists. They may not always be superstars, or the most popular, and honestly they may not always be my favorite player from the team, but that’s what will make this fun, no?)
I was considering running this during the playoffs, but then thought better of it.
Any time I attempt to jinx the Cardinals, it backfires. Maybe it has something to do with their steroid infused line-up or their likely Bilicheck-ian “scouting” (yes, I’m throwing out completely fabricated accusations, but c’mon! It’s the Cardinals!), but they always find a way to contend and prove doubters wrong. And it’s really, really annoying.
Still, despite that, I found this list pretty easy to compile. Even though I hate the team under the arch with a passion, it’s not a totally bitter passion. I see it as a fun, playful rivalry, and you can’t help but appreciate the ballplayers that work their asses off to keep it that way.
That’s why picking Jim Edmonds was a no-brainer. He played for both sides, and gave 100% every single game. The man was pure effort and a hell of a lot of fun to watch in a blue uniform. His work ethic transformed him from a hated visitor into a fan-favorite in Chicago almost instantly. I can’t remember who replaced him in center (and can’t be bothered to look it up), but I can tell you that I would have rather seen another year of Edmonds instead.
Current player runner-up: Yadier Molina
Another easy choice. Molina is dangerous, and I’m not just saying that because he’s inked up. He’s consistently improving with his offense, which shows the effort and care he puts into the game. I’m not sure he can improve much on defense. Oh, how I would have loved to see a few showdowns between him and Rickey Henderson. That would have been fun.
I’m surprised there isn’t more cardboard love for Yadier. His cards started really coming through in 2004 and he only has a little over 1,000 with only 88 autographs (including parallel versions). You’d think there’d be more for a 4x All-star and 5x Gold Glove winner.
Retired player runner-up: Jose Oquendo
He may not be other people’s obvious choice, but I’m drawn to this kind of player. I like the well-rounded types. The guys with gumption and heart and drive. You need that attitude to be able to play all nine positions on the field. And that’s what Oquendo has done. Eight positions probably isn’t that uncommon, but Oquendo is the ultimate Utility Man (or Secret Weapon if you’re Whitey Herzog) and will even pitch for you if you need it. It’s a feat worth noting, and Topps did just that in their 2012 Archives release. He has 9 different fan favorite autographs, one for each position.
The Series So Far
Brewers – Bob Eucker
Pirates – Andrew McCutchen
White Sox – Paul Konerko