Monday, April 14, 2014

Rauuuuuul

Raul Ibanez has 2000 more hits than you do.


The other night, he got Number 2000. It was a game-tying 3 run homer off Jose Valverde, which is about the Raul Ibanez-est thing imaginable. One expects that if he has his way, he will keep playing baseball until they have to physically remove him from the field once and for all.
2000 hits. He didn't really stick in the big leagues until he was 28, didn't get a full time job until he was 30. Give him a few of those seasons from his younger days (when he was with a Seattle organization that wouldn't promote position played not named Griffey even at gunpoint, and a Kansas City organization that was, well, Kansas City) and maybe that 2000th hit is a 2500th hit. Maybe it's something higher. Maybe we're talking about Raul the way we talk about guys who land within shouting distance of the Hall of Fame.

Then again, maybe we're not. His defense has always been "interesting", to be charitable - I remember one Mariners game I attended where he overran a ground ball down the left field line and kept chugging right into the face of the stands. He's always been incredibly streaky, which meant those torrid two-week stretches where he hit .550 and slugged six home runs were always balanced by sequences where it looked like you could get him out throwing slow-pitch underhand. And then there's that bit a few years back where he misunderstood, willfully or otherwise, a blogger's contention that a particularly ferocious hot streak would get people wondering if he were on steroids - a reasonable concern, given the Shaughnessy-led wolf pack's constant baying for the blood of suspected PED users - and took it as an actual accusation. 

But hey, water under the bridge. He's had a much, much better career than anyone watching him get sandbagged in Seattle or flail in KC might expect. There will be at least a little more on the back end. Too bad there wasn't more on the front.
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