Friday, September 28, 2012
The "All-Nick" squad
Every once in a while, I like to do a little "digging" through the blogosphere.
Specifically, I enjoy browsing through the great material that came to light before I discovered the wonderful world of card blogs last summer.
It's my little way of "catching up" on what I missed, although I doubt I could ever get fully caught up on everything.
During my "dig", I stumbled across a nearly three year-old post of Night Owl's, one that he says was a "rip-off" post.
Tonight, I'll be ripping off a "rip-off post".
The basis for it was brilliant, one that I can't believe I'd never previously thought about.
Sharing a first name with someone is a great thing. One of my best friends is also named Nick, oddly enough. I can't tell you how many times we both turned and looked when someone called out our name.
Sadly, the name hasn't been as abundant in the annals of baseball history. There are no "Nicks" in the Hall of Fame...yet.
After doing a little research, I found that six players named Nick currently reside in my binders. Not enough for an actual "squad", which was a bit disappointing.
Ironically, the first player that slipped into my mind is one that's not exactly well-known.
He should be, though.
Stat-wise, he doesn't exactly stand out. Bierbrodt pitched in the bigs for three years with the D'Backs, Devil Rays, Indians, and Rangers, going 6-9 with a 6.66 ERA in that span.
Still, the fact that he made it that far is pretty amazing. He returned the majors less than a year after getting shot three times in 2002 during his tenure with the Devil Rays.
It is indeed a "lost baseball story", one that deserves to be recognized within my collection.
The next member of the "All-Nick" squad is a bit of a throwback.
Although he pitched in the bigs for five decades, he's probably better known for his off-the-field accomplishments rather than his on-field ones.
He and Al Schacht (also known as "The Clown Prince of Baseball") were the stars of a comedy duo that would entertain fans across ballfields for years, even taking their act to vaudeville at one point.
Some people are just born to do comedy.
Judging from that shot, Nick Altrock was one of those people.
Now, let's move on to the more current "Nicks" in the game of baseball.
Unfortunately, Nick Johnson is probably the most injury-plagued player I've seen during my time as a baseball fan.
Judging from his .399 career on-base percentage, Johnson has always had the talent to be a star in the majors.
Although he was once a highly-touted prospect in the Yankees' system, he's topped the 100-game mark just four times during his 10-year big league career.
He's currently filling a bench role for the (hopefully) playoff-bound Orioles.
Speaking of the O's...
Johnson isn't the only "Nick" in Baltimore.
For a long time, Nick Markakis was one of the most well-kept secrets in the game of baseball. Since the O's haven't gotten much attention in recent years, Markakis and his .295 career average flew under a lot of people's radar.
With the Orioles' 2012 resurgence, Markakis found himself at the center of all the instant hype that surrounded Baltimore.
Unfortunately, he broke his thumb earlier this month and was forced to miss the rest of the regular season.
I'm starting to think that having the name Nick is a bit unlucky for aspiring baseball stars.
I've always been a fan of the "little guys".
It's one of the reasons baseball is the best sport on Earth. You don't have to be a gargantuan human being to make it to the big leagues.
Judging from his 5'9", 190-pound frame, Nick Punto is a good representation of that fact.
He's been a valuable utility guy throughout his career, given that he can play second, third, or shortstop.
Dodger fans are currently getting to know Punto a little better, as he was a forgotten piece of last month's monster Red Sox-Dodgers trade. (I should note that he's hit .345 in Los Angeles thus far in 2012.)
A prime member of the "All-Nick" squad.
Even with the likes of Altrock and Punto, my favorite "Nick" is none other than Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher.
Aside from a 20-game stint with the A's in 2004, Swisher has never failed to hit more than 20 homers in any of his big league seasons.
I had the privilege to see him play on a daily basis when he came to the hometown White Sox in 2008.
Ever since then, he's been one of my favorites, for one simple reason.
He genuinely loves the game of baseball.
If someone asked me to describe Swisher, all I'd have to do is show them this card. It's certainly one of Topps' best efforts in recent years.
Needless to say, it's fantastic to be able to say that I share a first name with Mr. Swisher.
That goes for all of the "Nicks" that have ever played the game of baseball.
It's an honor.