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Saturday, January 07, 2006


Brush with Greatness

Reading around the Card blogs this weekend, I saw a couple of comments around Leach's story about John Rodriguez' line from Winter Ball in Puerto Rico. Rob at the Birdwatch gives readers a look at how those stats might translate in terms of major and minor league ball in the regular season, and Erik makes a case for Rodriguez in the field at PAH9. I had kind of hoped that Rodriguez would play his way into a full time, starting gig with the Cards. [I hoped to see Rodriguez as the third OF'er, and Giles or Wilkerson as the other OF not named Edmonds. We got Juan Encarnacion.] Like Erik, who is going to a Cardinals Caravan event staffed by Rodriguez, my reasons are primarily based on a deep personal connection with the 28 year-old NYC native. You see, when the Cards were in DC this summer, I went down to the dugout before the game that Sunday afternoon, joining hordes of little kids in waiting for players to autograph something for me. Unlike the children, I bitched rather loudly about the insufferable heat and humidity. Nevertheless, we represented a determined bunch, and when Matty Mo stuck his out of the dugout it looked like our persistence my be rewarded after all. Nope. Just two kids were able to get the once great starting pitcher's signature before some old man pushed his way forward, children falling aside as his forward movement and sweat soaked Tommy Bahama shirt cleared him a path. Matty Mo signed whatever it was the middle aged man slipped across the dugout's concrete roof, exchanged a few words, and slipped back across the divide separating the professional athletes from adoring fans. I slid back from the dugout a bit, shamed to be an adult. The old man in the exotic print rayon shirt marched back to his seat, pleased at his entitlement, and probably thinking about how much he could sell the newly autographed memorabilia for on eBay later that week. Just then, John Rodriguez appeared, and in a tone that would almost seem surly if you didn't know he was a New Yorker, he started signing balls and hats and programs and ticket stubs for kids. And he kept signing, so finally I decided to push my way through the children and ask him to sign my official NL ball. (I didn't really push kids out of the way, don't worry.) Johnny signed it, and rolled it back across the dugout roof to me, probably tipped off by the glasses that I didn't have the coordination to catch it. While he was still signing things for fans, I stood there and watched a little longer, after thanking him of course. He was looking in the stands to spot his family, who were up there in the 200s section above the dugout, not far from where I had found a seat (far better than the one I had paid for) the day before. Then I yelled, "hit one for Bed-Stuy," an area of Brooklyn where my wife once lived; I had no idea if that was where he grew up. (I think he is from Brooklyn though.) He looked at me like I was crazy. The left fielder smiled a satisfied smile though, knowing I was just some crazy Cardinal fan happily welcoming him to "our" team. I wouldn't sell the autograph on eBay, no way; I have a little bit of a soul. It sure would be great though for my newly acquired memorabilia item, adding another dimension to the story, if J-Rod has a decent little career in St. Louis.
"Atlantic Terminals, Redhook, Bushwick/Come to Brooklyn frontin'/and you'll get mushed quick"

Gang Starr, 1992

"The B to the R, the O the O-K, L-Y-N is the place where I stay"

Mos Def, 1999
straight from brook town, boi!

-Flava Flav
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