1 Total Update since June 7, 2011
almost 2 years ago Update 1 comment
Earlier today, you and I set upon a quest to determine baseball's Patron Saint of Journeymen. As usual, you did not disappoint. Here are some of your nominations.
Ryan Langerhans (suggested by Eyebrows). He went from the Braves to the A's to the Nationals within a week. Think about how awesome it would be to have a Mike Piazza Marlins jersey. Owning a Ryan Langerhans A's jersey would be about 20 times more awesome.
Bobo Newsome (suggested by matty blue). This guy's career spanned from the outset of the Great Depression (1929) until the end of the Korean War (1953). He played for the Brooklyn Robins, St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators, Philadelphia Athletics, and New York Giants. I bet this guy played for more teams that don't exist anymore than anyone else, ever.
Newsome was also suggested by @Fistwaffle, who notes:
Baseball was played in 10 cities in Bobo Newsom's career, and he played for the home team in seven of them.
Mark Whiten (suggested by smk73). Eight teams in 11 years. Holy moley. Hey, you guys want to see how many of these discussions we can have that involve Mark Whiten? Next week's question: do you think Mark Whiten prefers cake or pie?
Todd Zeile (suggested by our own Al Yellon). Zeile is a very interesting sort of journeyman. For the first six years of his career, he had the look of a one-team player. In the 10 seasons that followed, he played for 11 different teams.
Miguel Cairo (suggested by @scott_keehner). Nine teams. 16 seasons. Career OPS of .678. I'm pretty sure he gets bounced around from clubhouse to clubhouse because there's, like, one purportedly amazing parlor trick he can do. When it is learned that the framed photo of Tony Danza is not haunted, but in fact manipulated by Cairo via barely-visible thread, he is promptly shipped elsewhere.
Bip Roberts. I refrained from mentioning this earlier because I was so certain that my Dugout associate, Brandon Stroud, would bring him up. For the better part of a decade, he and I have referred to him as "MLB Journeyman Bip Roberts." It's fun. Try it!
Basically everyone on the 2006 Yankees. Suggested by @domifanotherkid, who notes:
'06 Yankees bench featured Miguel Cairo, Craig Wilson, Aaron Guiel, Kelly Stinnett, Terrence Long, Tanyon Sturtz, Ron Villone, Sidney Ponson, Scott Erickson, and, yes, Sal Fasano
So much competition here, but I believe I have to go with Todd Zeile, because he seemed like such a one-team fellow over the first part of his career. He surely didn't see it coming, but then again, no baby is born a hobo. Thanks once again, everyone. If you have any ideas for the subject of the next Imperative Baseball Debate, please let me know.
almost 2 years ago Update 23 comments
God bless Curt Flood, who sacrificed his baseball life to battle the game's unjust reserve clause and pave the way for his fellow players to exercise greater control of their careers. We have sustained an acceptable casualty, that being the fantasy that baseball players are teammates with common loyalties, sensibilities, or objectives.
The truth, of course, is that alliances are formed amongst players as a result of common circumstance, and that teams resemble temporarily allied groups of mercenaries so closely as to be incompatible with our team-oriented loyalties as fans. I was a fan of both the 1991 Royals and the 2006 Royals, on account of like laundry and little more. Brent Mayne is not John Buck. Mark Gubicza is not Zack Greinke. The Santa sitting in the throne in the mezzanine of the mall is not the Santa standing in the parking lot and ringing a bell. Shrug.
We may as well revel in free agency and how it has shaped the industry's workforce -- one that, for some players, proves to be as transient as that of the restaurant industry. These men are journeymen, a proud fraternity of players who bounce from team to team for most of their careers, merely filling transitory organizational needs.
Here, then, is my question:
The simplest way to answer this question would be to consult the record books and see who has played for the most teams. There is a three-way tie at the top, as Mike Morgan (1978-2002), Ron Villone (1995-2009), and Matt Stairs (1992-present) have each played for 12 teams.
However, I feel this question is a spiritual one, and thus begs a spiritual answer. Something more than numbers is required of us here. For many of us, there's a journeyman who, for some reason or another, stands as our all-time favorite.
My answer is Sal Fasano. He caught for nine different teams, but never played more than 78 games in a single season. He spent his first four seasons with the Royals, before the A's acquired him in 2000. A year later, the Royals took him back, only to trade him away the next month.
He was useful as a veteran catcher and as a home-run hitter off the bench, but his role was limited. He bounced around the league a few more times before landing in Philadelphia, where he found something journeymen rarely, if ever, find: a following.
A group of 20 or so Phillies fans declared themselves "Sal's Pals." They cheered him on and drew big, drooping mustaches on their faces in tribute. Sal was thrilled. He even bought them pizza. And then, after only 54 games with the Phillies, he was sent out of town yet again. He would play for three more teams before retiring.
Perhaps my choice is too sentimental, or perhaps there's a man better deserving of the title of PATRON SAINT OF JOURNEYMEN. Perhaps Fasano's short-lived cult following disqualifies him. Perhaps the whole point of being a journeyman is to live and work in obscurity. What do you think?
Let's discuss this. If you would like to nominate a journeyman for consideration, please do so -- either by commenting below, or by tweeting me at @jon_bois. Later today, I'll sift through your answers and post some of the best.
We have a saint to beatify, people. Let's get to work.