Thursday, September 8, 2011

That Warm Fuzzy Feeling

Living in this hippie hinterland of British Columbia, I have a very good friend who makes his living off of his idealism. For him, relentless optimism isn't merely a character trait but a business asset. Needless to say, a baseball fan's endemic pessimism often gets in the way as we debate the merits of donating an hour's wages to a hypothetical starving child in Kenya - me skeptical of his charity's intentions, he arguing that it's just one less six-pack a week (while helping himself to all the beers in my fridge, it should be added).

I'd like to think my selfishness doesn't make me a bad person, just a realist, but there are moments when this skepticism-as-life-philosophy gets in the way of a good story. Sometimes that's a meaningful piece of literature, sometimes it's a story that same buddy tells you about fucking off to do blow and get laid this weekend, and sometimes it's a feel-good baseball narrative.

Let's face it: comebacks are pretty played out. There was Tommy John, back when the surgery was unheard of. There was Joaquin Andujar. Then, Dave Dravecky. Josh Hamilton. Eric Davis beat cancer - and hell, so did the guy on the mound opposite McGowan much of Tuesday night. Doug Davis - the man behind my online SN - did it too.

The fact that there's been an award handed out for the past 45 years should indicate that a comeback, in and of itself, is not a unique and meaningful occurrence. If a guy was good enough to make it to the big leagues at an early age, he's generally going to have exceptionally above-average physical tools even after going through health-related purgatory. There's a reason Adam Loewen was the highest-drafted Canadian in history. These guys have been trained to believe they're invincible, and to some extent they are.

But it seems like making a comeback(TM) is a lot like making the big leagues for the first time as a rookie - the difficulty being not so much in getting there as staying. Eric Davis had a couple of great years, but basically retired having missed out on the prime of his career. Dravecky immediately broke his arm and watched the cancer return. And our very own Comeback Player of the Year, golden boy Aaron Hill, is now plying his trade in the desert as a probable non-tender. Lester and Hamilton have been great, but often the wear and tear of the physical trials leave their mark later, as baseball careers - short, fitful things in general - stall at replacement-level or end prematurely.

Anyway, that's not to say that it wasn't awesome to see McGowan and Loewen appear in back-to-back games for the Jays this week. If you scroll down, you'll see that in my most recent post I argued that Loewen should be given a chance to battle for a starting job on this team down the road. But am I teary-eyed about the fact that they appeared in a single major league game?

Show me the money.

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