Lloyd the Barber writes the Blue Jays blog Ghostrunner on First and is the Weekend Editor for Walkoff Walk. His one true, somewhat inexplicable love is . Please allow Lloyd to make a case for Rocco: Comeback Player of the Year.
On Monday night, the American League Comeback Player of the Year hit a three run home run that put Game 3 of the ALCS out of reach. The American League Comeback Player of the Year did so less than 50 miles from his hometown, against his boyhood team, with his kid brother braving a harsh peanut allergy (!) to be in attendance.
The American League Comeback Player of the Year missed the first four months of the season with an ailment that has been variously misdiagnosed/misreported as Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, Whooping Cough, and Dutch Elm Disease. The American League Comeback Player of the Year’s entire career has been on a team that, before this incredible season, was yet to win more than 70 games.
The American League Comeback Player of the Year is not a pitcher, yet once missed an entire season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The American League Comeback Player of the Year was not ACTUALLY named the Comeback Player of the Year.
That distinction was surreptitiously awarded by Major League Baseball to a player that had the bravery to overcome a mild abdominal strain, fight with a teammate, tip his cap to a booing home crowd, before gamely defeating the Royals 5 times to lead his team to a sparkling 81-81 record.
The American League winner Cliff Lee has nothing on the NL’s Brad Lidge, who would have been awarded the Ralph Branca Medal of Honor had his team not WON the series he almost, sort-of blew. Brad Lidge’s Comeback Player of the Year award should be known as the Donnie Moore Please Don’t Go Girl preventative strike of 2008. Lidge and Lee’s award-winning season opened the door to every single player who that ever had a great option year, signed a big free-agent contract, dogged it for three years before discovering their form in time for another free agent payday. Call me a sentimental fool, but I prefer comebacks of the Tony Conigliaro variety rather than the vaguely Saberhagenian.
The real American League Comeback Player of the Year spends 4 hours before each game stretching, taking supplements and preparing his body for a pounding it can barely recover from. The kind of pounding that leaves him feeling tired and fatigued 2 hours after scoring from first on a double. But you know this about the American League Comeback Player of the Year. He’s been the subject of many soft-focus features and tearful testimonials since the Devil Rays Woonsocket Rocketed their way into the postseason.
The thing you may not know about Rocco Baldelli is that he’s awesome. Even with his ailments and current physical limitations; he’s still a five-tool outfielder with a cannon arm and serious pop. On the field, he’s part of a platoon and his future with the Devil Rays is up in the air. Off the field, Rocco has provided a rallying point for both his young team and the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. The UMDF urges us all to “Root for Rocco”, something even Red Sox fans must find impossible to resist.