Wednesday, December 07, 2005

John Olerud retires

Olerud hangs up his spikes

When I was in high school, the Phillies actually made it to the World Series (!), and then they got their asses kicked by some Blue Jays named things like Molitor, Borders, Olerud, Carter, etc. Man, did I hate that Olerud guy with his batting title and his sweet lefty swing and his graceful play at first base and...

Ah well. Somewhere along the line, after I moved away from Philly to go to college, I found that I could just appreciate Olerud for who he was -- a damned fine ballplayer and a damned nice guy. Every story I've ever heard about him always mentioned what an intelligent and kind person he is, and you don't need stories to know what a great player he is on the field, even if he's not exactly the fastest runner on the planet. When you hit like he did, and have a patient approach and a great eye, you don't need to be speedy to get your bases.

When I moved out to Seattle, and started following the Mariners, the first Mariners t-shirt I got was actually an Olerud number 5 shirt, and the first baseball poster I put up on my wall was an Olerud poster. I was furious when the Mariners DFA'ed him last year, and I was on my feet applauding him during his first at-bat when he returned as a Yankee a few weeks later. What can I say -- I just like the guy. It's just easy to admire him, or wish he was your next-door neighbor. Hopefully it'll be good for him to retire and settle down and take care of his children (a few months ago I read a heartbreaking article about his daughter who suffers from a chromosome defect), and maybe we'll see him hanging around the Mariners again in some other capacity a few years; who knows.

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