October 28, 2006

Dream Weaver

The never ending baseball season has, well, come to an end. The St. Louis Cardinals are the World Series champions tonight, and are probably ridiculously drunk right about now.

Three things stood out for me tonight as I watched St. Louis capture the title.

1) The Cards play in the best named stadium ever - Busch Stadium
2) It shouldn't be called the "World Series". Hello, the Japanese won the World Baseball Classic.
3) The Cardinals won 83 games this season, and are the champs. The Jays won 87 games this season, and missed the playoffs by 8 games. That makes me angry, and sad, at the same time. Such is the life of a Blue Jays fan.

The Cards won the least amount of regular season games of any playoff team, but they're goin home with the hardware. It goes to show that a team just has to get hot at the right time. Once the playoffs start, everyone's on the same level and the regular season is deemed meaningless.

One player who can attest to that has gotta be Jeff Weaver. What an incredible ride this season was for him. And what a way to end it. Weaver pitched a tremendous game tonight, and it was good to see a guy who's been torn apart everywhere he's been have some success.

Weaver's story is like a fairytale, and I'm sure he thinks he's dreaming tonight.

He started this season with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I wonder what genius came up with that name) - his fifth team in the last six years. He started his career in Detroit, then wore Yankee pinstripes, then Dodger blue, then became an Angel. It's how he became a Cardinal that I find so fascinating.

Weaver's got a lifetime record of 94 wins and 115 losses. But he's the type of guy who will always have a job in somebody's rotation, and he takes home a pretty decent paycheque. He's just got so much potential. That's been the story of his whole career. He's got all the tools and the talent, he just can't seem to put it together mentally. Gee, where the hell have I heard that before? Freakin A.J. Burnett. Yes, Blue Jay fans, A.J. Burnett is the second coming of Jeff Weaver!

Anyway, back to this season. Weaver was, well, even worse than usual for the Angels. His younger brother Jered Weaver, also a starting pitcher and also on the Angels, was called up early in the season to fill in for an injured Kelvim Escobar. Jered Weaver was "off the heezy, indeed", like the Schick Quattro commercial. Jeff Weaver, not so much. The older Weaver went 3-10 for the Angels, with a NASTY 6.29 E.R.A. before he was designated for assignment by the ballclub at the end of June.

Designated for assignment because of your younger brother. Out of a job because of baby bro. That's got to be a little tough on the ego.

On July 5th, Jeff Weaver was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals for some jobber.

Can you say destiny?

Weaver pitched ok for the Cardinals down the stretch - he was his usual "Jeff Weaver makes me want to pull my own hair out" inconsistent self. But he was a different Jeff Weaver in the playoffs. He went 4-2, with an E.R.A. under 3.00, and he pitched 8 superb innings tonight to clinch the title for the Cardinals.

How freakin improbable is that? He loses his job to his baby brother, gets one last chance with St. Louis, and gets torn apart in the media that he's soft and that he'll never get it right.

Well, he got it right. Jeff Weaver is a champion, and he's got one helluva story to tell his grandchildren. I hope the first telephone call Jeff Weaver made after the game was to his brother Jered, to thank him for taking his job, and getting him traded. Nobody could have written a better script.

And I'm not sure why, but I'm happy for the guy. For a man who's taken so much grief in his professional life, I think it's safe to say he deserves this.

Like Jerry Seinfeld said - "it's karma, Kramer."

Goodnight, Toronto...