11 March 2010

the evolution of my favorite non-dodger

i started following baseball during the summer of 1977.  more likely, early fall.  i remember listening to games on the radio and watching the postseason games with my dad, but i was pretty oblivious to teams and players beyond the few dodgers i knew.  as such, i didn't have any non-dodger favorites until 1978 when i starting buying and studying baseball cards.

the first guy i really liked who didn't wear dodger blue was don baylor (78-79)
dude hit 34 home runs in 1978, which i recognized was one more than steve garvey hit in 1977, so he had to be good, right?  then, in 1979, there was so much angels hype in california that you couldn't ignore it, and baylor was doing his thing in mvp style.  everything crashed for baylor and the angels in 1980, though, and i turned my non-dodger attention elsewhere.

pete rose (80-82)
when we would go to dodger games, we would either see the giants or the reds.  period.  maybe pittsburgh once in a while.  anyway, i learned to appreciate charlie hustle, and he inherited the title of my non-dodger favorite.  by this time, though, he was with the phillies, and he had switched to first base.  that was ok, just as long as steve garvey remained the nl all star game starter at that position, which he did until 1981 when rose beat him out.  i learned to live with it.
the only reason pete rose didn't remain my favorite non-dodger until his retirement was the fact that popeye himself became a non-dodger. 

steve garvey (83-87)
no question, garvey was the guy, up until he got hurt in 1987 and i read the writing on the wall.  that left the door open for a longtime almost favorite to take over.

paul molitor (87-94)
i didn't get much of a chance to see molly play in person, but i admired him from afar from 1979 on.  being a 2b-3b guy myself at the time, i fancied myself a molitor-type player.  just a lot worse.  plus, he tore it up in the postseason, especially 1993 when he destroyed the phillies in the world series.

after the strike, i couldn't wait for baseball to get going again.  this time, though, i had a new non-dodger favorite.

 shawn green (95-99)
living in orange county at the time, and close to where green grew up, i felt some connection to him.  i even met his dad once in a card shop.  anyway, that's pretty corny, but i was really rooting for him.  once cito starting playing him everyday, he didn't disappoint.  and, even though he was traded for my favorite dodger, i was pretty happy when he joined the blue in 2000.

but, rather than stick with raul mondesi, i chose a different guy to move to the top of the list.  nomar garciaparra (00-05)
i really wasn't much of an alex rodriguez or derek jeter fan, so i really wanted nomar to excel and end all the talk about the triumvirate and who's better and blah blah blah.  plus, this was back when people were actually hoping the red sox would win.  now i cheer for them to lose.  to the yankees.  big.  i may dislike them more than i dislike the yankees, come to think of it.  anyway, nomar's reign ended when he joined the dodgers, so...big daddy vladdy took over.

vladimir guerrero (06-07)
kind of full circle here, going back to the angels.  the reason had more to do with how excited i was when i thought the dodgers were going to sign him.  bud wouldn't allow it, so we lost out, but i still followed him pretty closely.  i hope he does well in texas, by the way, but i am sure vladdy knows that i could only live in minnesota for so long before the local boy would have to move to the top of this list.

joe mauer (08-present)
after a disappointing 2007, there was so much anticipation for mauer to prove that 2006 wasn't an anomaly.  he more than proved it by winning his second batting title and then his third last year.  following him closely for the last two seasons has been a heckuva fun ride.  i really hope he stays with the twins for the rest of his career.

so there it is, the list of those who have won my baseball affection without wearing the dodger uniform, with honorable mentions to rickey henderson, ryne sandberg, robin ventura, jose canseco, and ken griffey jr.  but, as a team guy, keep in mind that my least favorite dodger is more of a favorite than my favorite non-dodger.  some of the time, anyway.

lastly, if you have any cards for any of the players listed here, feel free to send 'em my way!

1 comment:

Bo said...

I've definitely got a better appreciation of Garvey now - wish there were more players willing to bunt to break out of a slump today.