With the World Series set to begin Wednesday night, there are few guarantees we can make. There are just too many different ways a best-of-seven series between two teams of similar ability can go for us to even try to offer a prediction. However, when it's all said and done, at least one thing's for sure: Arthur Rhodes is going to end up with a ring.
Maybe that isn't for sure. Some teams might have different policies about this sort of thing. But it's highly, highly likely. During the year, Arthur Rhodes played for both the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals, so it would appear that he'll end up with a ring no matter how this series goes. And it'll be the first ring of his 20-year career.
Immediately, you think about Bengie Molina. A year ago, Molina was the starting catcher for the San Francisco Giants until he was traded to the Rangers in July. Molina then became the starter in Texas, and so he was guaranteed a ring when the two teams met in October. He wound up getting his ring from the Giants, who credited him with having helped to develop a robust pitching staff.
But while Molina is the first guy to come to mind, maybe he isn't the best comparison. Molina, after all, was a starting catcher. He was in the lineup almost every day. Rhodes is a second lefty in the bullpen. He was a second lefty in Texas, and he's been a second lefty with St. Louis. Maybe a more fitting comparison is Chris Ray. Chris Ray went the other way in the July Molina trade. He was also guaranteed a ring, even though he didn't make the Giants' postseason roster. Ray made a similar contribution to each team as Rhodes has.
(Fun fact: Fred Lewis got a World Series ring last year. Fred Lewis didn't play a single game with the Giants in 2010, getting traded to Toronto on April 15 after beginning the season on the disabled list. It turns out they give World Series rings to pretty much anybody.)
What's interesting to me isn't just that Rhodes has never before won a ring. He's been playing since 1991. He turns 42 in a week. You just kind of assume that those guys would've won at some point earlier on.
No, what I find most interesting is that Rhodes has never before won a ring despite the quality of the teams for which he's played. Some of Rhodes' previous employers:
- 89-win 1992 Orioles
- 88-win 1996 Orioles
- 98-win 1997 Orioles
- 91-win 2000 Mariners
- 116-win 2001 Mariners
- 93-win 2002 Mariners
- 93-win 2003 Mariners
- 91-win 2004 Athletics
- 93-win 2005 Indians
- 91-win 2010 Reds
That's a lot of success. Between 2000-2005, the worst team for which Rhodes pitched finished 91-71. And yet, nothing, until now.
Granted, you could argue that Rhodes was partially at fault. He had a couple backbreaking meltdowns in the 2000 ALCS. A year later, he allowed another critical ALCS home run. Mariners fans will remember Rhodes fondly for his work during the regular season, and less than fondly for his work during the playoffs.
But it's not like Rhodes is really to blame for the fact that he's had to wait this long to get a ring. He's been an effective pitcher on a lot of good teams. It just never happened. Sometimes it doesn't happen.
So Rhodes is a neat story, if you're the kind of person who thinks things like this are neat stories. It might be a little unsatisfying if Rhodes ends up winning his ring in a losing cause, since he posted a 4.81 ERA with the Rangers before getting released in early August, but a ring is a ring, and it'd be his first ring. People love personal firsts.
Does Arthur Rhodes deserve a ring? Does he deserve to have a little thing on his finger because he's pitched pretty well for a really long time? I don't know the answer to that. What do you mean by "deserve"? Does any athlete deserve anything? Why?
But I do know that Arthur Rhodes has waited a long time for this, and that he's probably dreamed of a ring since getting drafted in 1988. The ring that Rhodes gets will be intended as a symbol of the 2011 season, but for Rhodes himself, it'll symbolize one hell of a career.