Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Comebacks: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

*This is the first of several articles featured on Jorge Says No! written by guest writer Evan Levitt featuring the most obscure, odd, and very different topics. Evan is a senior at Drew University studying behavioral science and like me, has suffered through the highs and lows that come with rooting for the New York Mets. He is an avid baseball fan with a passion for the truly unique (Eric Valent anyone!) so I hope everyone enjoys Evan's take on baseball.

By: Evan Levitt

This first article will feature something that has always been of interest to me…comebacks. We have seen many players retire then un-retire—sometimes multiple times. It has to be difficult to leave the game of baseball, especially when baseball is all you know and engraved as your way of life. For some, coming out of retirement proved to be a great for their careers, while others simply wasted their of time. Now we will take a look at THE GOOD…THE BAD…and THE UGLY


1) ROGER CLEMENS: How could you not put him at #1. While some may argue that this was not a “comeback” since he only retired during the off-season, we are going to cut him some slack and call it a comeback. Essentially, Roger Clemens was able to have a 2nd career with the Houston Astros (and the Yankees…again). In his four year “comeback” Clemens went 44-24 but MUCH more impressive was his ERA over the four year span (2.98, 1.87, 2.30, and 4.18). Clemens was hands down one of the most dominant starting pitchers over that time frame. The fact that he didn’t win the Cy Young with a 1.87 ERA is ridiculous…what other starting pitcher had an ERA that low in the past 10 years?

2) FERNANDO TATIS: This man came out of nowhere last year so that he could raise money to build a church in his home country. As a Mets fan I have one thing to say: Boy am I glad he wanted to build that church. Tatis hit 11 home runs for the Mets while establishing himself as one of the Mets best clutch hitters. Needless to say, in 2008, Tatis was a God send.

3) GABE KAPLER: Not too many guys have gotten to play, manage, and then play again—but Gabe Kapler did. He took 2007 “off” to manage the Red Sox Single-A affiliate. As someone who has worked in minor league ball, I know that life in Single-A can suck…the .417 winning percentage probably didn’t leave him with a good taste in his mouth either. Nevertheless, Gabe hit over .300 and was a key member of the Brewers 2008 success. This year he will be making seven figures in Tampa…good move Gabe!

4) SALOMON TORRES: Could anyone blame him for retiring the first time? Torres lost the final game of the 1993 season, which ultimately cost the Giants a spot in the post season. Torres was mercifully heckled by Giants fans after that and subsequently, his career stalled. After 1997 he coached for a few years and then came back with the Pirates in 2001 and become one of the best middle relievers in baseball. He just retired (again) and left over $3,000,000 on the table to spend time with his family—could we see comeback #2?

5) TODD PRATT: By far my favorite of “the good” guys in baseball. He delivered pizza and worked at Bucky Dent’s baseball school after retiring in 1996, but only a few years later he ended the NLDS between the Mets and Diamondbacks with a solo homerun. Once again…thank you.


1) DAVID CONE: I wish I could have put this one in “the good” category, but the a 1-3 record with a 6.50 ERA definitely DOES NOT qualify as good. He tried to come back but a bad hip (among other things) prevented him from continuing. At least it didn’t prevent him from broadcasting…

2) JOSE RIJO: The only man who got at least one Hall of Fame vote and then pitched in the major leagues afterwards. After having multiple surgeries, Rijo re-entered the MLB after a six year hiatus to have a brief stint with the Reds in 2001 and 2002. By the end of 2002, it was clear he was done. However, it was good to see him end his career on his own terms.


1) JIM PALMER: Who would have thought that I would put a Hall-of-Famer in “the bad” category. Well at the young age of 45 he tried to comeback with the Orioles…this just lasted 1 spring training game in which he compiled an ERA of 9.00 in 2 IP. The biggest credit to him is that he didn’t continue the comeback after 1 game.

2) HOWARD JOHNSON: Hojo tried to comeback with the Mets in 1997. He had a job lined up coaching in the Devil Rays minor league system, but had to try for a comeback. Like Palmer, Hojo’s comeback did not make it out of spring training. Even if he wanted it to continue, who would want someone with a .129 batting average on their team?

3) BRET BOONE (x2): Boone is unique in that he tried a comeback twice and failed both times. In 2006 he tried a comeback with the Mets and in 2008 with the Nats. People were really pulling for Bret in 2008 since his failed 2006 comeback was due to alcoholism (for which he overcame). However, after a brief stint in Columbus—it was time to say goodbye FOR GOOD!!!


1) TROY PERCIVAL: Percival had the most interesting 2007 ever. He threw out the 1st pitch at the Angels home opener, signed with the St. Louis Cardinals, and started the Cardinals final regular season home game. How strange is that mix? Percival parlayed his strong 2007 into a closing gig with the Rays and actually had a good deal of success before getting hurt. It'd be great to see Percival have a strong and healthy 2009.


Paul Byrd: 3:2

Salomon Torres: 5:1

Sean Casey: 7:1

Greg Maddux: 10:1

Barry Bonds: 50:1

Rickey Henderson: 1,000,000:1

1 comment:

drbruce said...

I'll bet $1 on Ricky