Friday, August 8, 2014

Never forget your first

The next time Travis Snider steps onto the field for big league action, it will mark the 500th game of his career. Of those 500 games, more came wearing the uniform of the Pittsburgh Pirates than the Toronto Blue Jays.

Travis Snider was the first prospect I followed closely. His shooting star was the first weighed down by the hopes and expectations of the blog generation, as the rise of Jays-specific sites coincided with his meteoric ascent through the minor leagues.

And though Snider got his name on more scoresheets in the National League, he actually played more with the Jays (917 PAs with Toronto compared to 642 with the Bucs.) As a top prospect, the Jays gave him every opportunity to fail. He was the high school batter destined to challenge for MVPs and hit in the heart of the order for years to come.

That was then; now he's the marginal 4th outfield/platoon guy who is staring down the barrel of a non-tendering this winter. But for guys like me and Your Boy The Zubes and countless others, Snider was the first. We fell fast and hard and were cut deep, and even when countless swing changes and injuries and minor league options revealed his true talent self, none of us wanted to believe it was true. When the trade came -- in the middle of a game in his motherfucking hometown -- it broke us.

Many swore off prospect porn forever. We vowed not to get burned again, that fawning over minor league box scores is a fool's errand and destined, like everything associated with this god-forsaken team, to end in tears.

But now there is Marcus Stroman. Stroman is different, even if he's essentially the same. Stroman holds the key to the future, and his underdog story (as an undersized ballplayer and college reliever turned big league starter) meshes so well with his telegenic affability and suddenly, it's happening again.

A race through the minor leagues, an untouchable tag, a first blush look at a ceiling as yet untouched. Everyone loves his makeup and his desire and just how freaking filthy he is on the mound. He does not want for swagger and he is as likable a prospect to pull on a Jays shirt since, well since ever? We want Marcus Stroman to be real. We need Marcus Stroman to be real.

And he might well be. Even if his "reality" doesn't fit with our idea of what Stroman might be, it's okay to want it. It's okay to pin these hopes and fears on a kid that the unrelenting pressure Big League Life ensures ends up as "a guy" more than "the guy."

I'm excited to have my hopes up even this far, as his performance the first time through the league merits it. Maybe he isn't Sonny Gray, maybe he's something better. Who cares? For now, he's the best kind of mystery. We're titillated and intrigued and that beats the shit out of bored and disappointed every day.

Saturday night, Stroman takes the hill against one of the best teams in baseball, the Detroit Tigers. He does it with his team somewhat desperate for wins after the a rough week for his team. The Blue Jays playoff hopes need him to be good on Saturday. My metaphysical well being wants him to do more - even if he can't deliver on the impossible, it's nice to aspire to something greater every once in a while.



  2. Prospects are for poor, sentimental people.

  3. Great work Drew. The Score's loss was truly Fangraphs gain. Really glad you landed on your feet so fast and looking forward to future content - keep up the good work!

  4. How excited can you possibly get about a player like Stroman when the team Has so many more holes to fill than just 1 or 2 pitcher spots. The mariners have had Felix for, like, ever and is made no difference. Insert other examples of star players on crumby teams here. This teams problem is always bad players or players playing badly for months taking up 4 or 5 spots on the roster. Gose, Rasmus, thole, at times Reyes, Kawasaki, Goins. How many times does a lineup like this get to a good pitcher? JA Happ, other pitchers.

  5. But if Stroman were a Wire character, where would he rank? Where would he project to rank?

  6. Just discovered you are no longer at the Score. Glad to see you back on a proper blog and sorry to see the Score continue to make bad decisions that seem to drive readers away. Hope you are getting paid somewhere. If there's any justice in the world 590 will hire you to replace some twat like Roger LaJoie asap. Fairservice podcasts were the best.

  7. I will forever love Travis. The only person who stirs as much emotion in me is Brad Lincoln, and it's all negative for obvious reasons.


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