Tuesday, May 12, 2009

2009 Golden League All Stars

After examining some of the ex-MLBers in the Atlantic League, I was feeling rather unfulfilled. Even though the list was extensive, I knew that I had not yet covered the full spectrum of the Independent Leagues. The Atlantic League generally maintains a strong monopoly on ex-MLB players, but there are plenty of gems still muddling around the various professional baseball leagues.

-Check out the Atlantic League all stars...here
-Check out the Northern League all stars...
-Check out the American Association all stars...here

The fourth independent league that I will be covering will be the Golden League. Based in California, the Golden League is best known for being home to Rickey Henderson and Jose Canseco in 2005 and 2006, respectively Interestingly enough, the Golden League was all set to expand into Mexico this season before the Swine Flu outbreak canceled those plans. The Golden League offers an impressive list of managers, most of whom were major league players (as you will see below).


So without further ado, Jorge Says No! proudly presents:

Oh my God! He's Still Around!

2009 Golden League All Stars

Jose Lima, SP, Long Beach Armada:

What a strange, but entertaining dude. Hard to believe that at one time, Lima was one of the premier pitchers in baseball. By 2002, Lima was released by the 106 loss Tigers and then came up with this gem of a quote:

"If I can't pitch on this team--the worst or second-worst team in baseball--where am I going to pitch?"

Lima Time alone is well worth the price of admission.

Hideki Irabu, SP, Long Beach Armada: A rotation of Jose Lima and Hideki Irabu in 2009? This must be heaven!

Nope. Just the Golden League.

Even though Irabu did set the precedent for the Japanese posting system, won two world championships with the Yankees, and set a new standard for "hyped up Japanese players entering the majors"; we all remember Irabu for one thing.

Fat. Pussy. Toad.

Yes, with these three words uttered by Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, Irabu became both a legend and a joke. The funniest thing about the "fat toad" incident is that Steinbrenner lashed out at Irabu for not covering first base during a PRESEASON GAME.

During his prime, Steinbrenner was in mid season form at all times. Poor Hideki.

Mac Suzuki, SP, Calgary Vipers: Some interesting notes on Suzuki:

1. He was the first Japanese player to play in the American League
2. He was the third Japanese player ever to play in the MLB
3. He was the first Japanese player to play in the majors without playing in the Japanese League first. (he played in Japan after his MLB career ended)
4. His career line is fascinating: a 5.72 ERA in the MLB; a 7.53 ERA in Japan. Weird.

Alexis Gomez, OF, St. George Roadrunners: At one time, Gomez was one of the Royals top prospects before he flamed out in AAA in 2004. Even though Gomez would never become a starting player in the majors, he did have his moment in the sun. In 2006, Gomez somehow managed to make the Tigers ALCS roster and in a curious decision, Manager Jim Leyland decided to start Gomez in game 2 of the ALCS. Gomez responded by hitting a two run home run and driving in four, which helped lead the Tigers to victory (not to mention this nifty write up in the New York Times)

Gomez actually got 3 at bats for the Tigers in World Series, but has been out of the major leagues ever since. But unlike most of these guys, Gomez got his shining moment in the majors in a big spot and no one can take that away from him.

Damian Jackson, SS, Orange County Flyers: WATCH OUT FOR JOHNNY DAMON!!!


Jackson actually had a pretty good career in the big leagues as a utility player, but there is no doubt that this play is ultimately what he is remembered for.

Robert Fick, 1B, Orange County Flyers: The most amazing, and underreported aspect of baseball that I find fascinating is how quickly careers go downhill. Fick is a great example. He was an all-star in 2002 with the Tigers (TERRIBLE TEAM though), but by 2004, he was nothing more than a struggling platoon player, who could not hit above the Mendoza line (.199 for the season). Perhaps it was the infamous slap of Eric Karros that caused teams to sour on Fick and his antics.

And by the way, some guy actually wrote a song about Robert Fick. I kid you not.

Jason Jacome, P, Tuscon Toros: Talk about playing for the love of the game. Jacome last full season in the majors came all the way back in 1997, when he went 2-0 with a 5.84 ERA for the Royals and Indians. So why does Jacome want to pitch for Toros?


"I am not out here to try to get back to the big leagues," Jacome, 38, said. "I am here to pitch a little and help the team win, and help some of the younger guys learn some things from me. If I get the opportunity to go somewhere else, I will take it.''
Hey, if you could play baseball for a living, wouldn't you?

Garry Tempelton, MANAGER, Long Beach Armada: Templeton was the man who the Cardinals dealt to the Padres for a light hitting shortstop named Ozzie Smith. Even though Templeton never made it to the hall of fame like Smith, he had a very good career in his own right by producing over 2,000 hits and making 3 all star teams.

Phil Nevin, MANAGER, Orange County Flyers: In his heyday, Phil Nevin was a great player and an absolute joy to watch. Nevin could absolutely crush the ball and when Nevin hit homeruns, the ball seemed to go into another stratosphere. Nevin was stuck on some pretty bad Padres teams, but he was one of the principle reasons why those teams remained entertaining in my mind.

Tim Johnson, MANAGER, Tuscon Toros: Yes, this is the same Tim Johnson, who garnered headlines in 1999 for falsifying stories to his players and coaches on the Blue Jays about his "experiences" in Vietnam. Even though Johnson lead the Jays to a third place finish in 1998, he was ultimately fired in March of 1999 because his lies became such a distraction.

Darrell Evans, MANAGER, Victoria Seals: According to Bill James, Darrell Evans is the most underrated player in baseball history. This piece is a must read for all baseball fans.

Cory Snyder, MANAGER, St. George Roadrunners: Snyder's bio straight from the Roadrunners' website:

Cory Snyder played for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants, and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1986 to 1994. Snyder's best season came in 1987 with the Indians when he hit 33 home runs, and had 82 Runs Batted In. He was well known for his powerful throwing arm, home run power, and a high tendency to strike out. Snyder's overall career numbers were hurt due to injuries.
Is it me, or is the last part awkward and unnecessary?


Anonymous said...

Other great names in the GBL this season are:

Managers: Greg Cadaret -- traded from the A's to the Yankees for Rickey Henderson. Mike Marshall -- Dodger All-Star outfielder with 2 World Series Championships and a hero of the 1988 Classic.

Other MLB Players: Mike Gallo on Long Beach, Andrew Lorrain on Orange County, Jim Rushford on Tucson, and probably many more we'll know once rosters are finalized next week.

Josh said...

Anon: Those are some great names. It's good to know someone else follows the Golden League as closely as I do!

I am very much looking forward to rosters being finalized...hopefully some more names are added.