Another Lame Countdown

August 02, 2007 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Honestly, in this age of blogging and everyone writing on the web, is there a more hackneyed idea than doing some sort of list or countdown? OK maybe doing blog posts that are nothing but YouTube videos with no actual text per se, is less original, but the list is right up there.

Unfortunately, the other day I was sitting around trying to decide about something to write for the Saloon. What could I do? What am I good at? I can make maps. But what could I honestly make a map of that would be relevant for this site? A map of places in Chicago where I've vomited*? No, that's no good. I know. I can make a list. I'm good at making lists, I used to do it all the time when I was a kid. I'd make lists of all the states, all the baseball teams, all the animals I know. In fact, looking back at my childhood, how I hardly got my ass kicked is really an astounding mystery, but that's neither here nor there.

So now I bring you "Another Lame Countdown". A brilliantly unoriginal feature where I will list.......ummm .......basically anything, for all of you to marvel. While they will be numbered, they won't be truly ranked in any fashion. Subjects could range vastly from topic to topic, but today we'll keep it baseball related.

*For the record, that map would only have one dot on it, marking the Palmer House Hilton. If you're gonna heave, you gotta do it in a classy place.

Former Rookie of the Years, Who Never Really Panned Out

When it comes to the Rookie of the Year, for every Albert Pujols, there's an Angel Berroa. For every Mike Piazza, there's a Pat Listach. Here's a list of ten guys that never quite lived up to the hype after their rookie year. Due to my baseball knowledge tapering off once I go pre-1980, I will keep my focus within the last 30 years.

10. John Castino/Alfredo Griffin, 1979 - Actually in fairness to Alfredo, he did have a pretty full career in the majors, playing until 1993. Heck, Alfredo even made and All-Star team and won a Gold Glove once. But overall, there's nothing spectacular about Alfredo Griffin. Even more so for Mr. Castino, of whom he shared the AL ROY with that year. Griffin finished the '79 season with 179 hits and 81 runs. Two numbers he would never reach again in his career. Castino posted a .285 average with 5 HR and 52 RBI in 393 at bats. His numbers never really improved from that, and eventually chronic back problems would force John out of baseball by the time he was 30. It was a pretty strong pool of rookies to choose from in '79. Griffin and Castino were tough choices over household names like Mark Clear, Ross Baumgarten, Ron Davis, and Pat Putnam.

9. Todd Hollandsworth, 1996 - The archenemy of the Saloon's own Brant Brown, Hollandsworth undoubtedly won the ROY on a kneejerk reaction from voters who just became accustomed to voting for the Dodger rookie (Karros, Piazza, Mondesi, and Nomo had won the previous four seasons). Honestly how anyone could beat F.P. Santangelo is beyond me. Todd never really lived up to his rookie year numbers, and as he bounced around to various teams, he drew the ire of Brant on multiple occasions. The spitting incident and the infamous AIDS heckle are firmly entrenched in the annals of Saloon-lore. Perhaps someday Brant will share them with you. Currently Todd is nowhere to be found. Much like D-Day from Animal House, his whereabouts are unknown.

8. Bobby Crosby, 2004 - Sure it still may be a little premature to put Crosby on this list, but given how big of boners everyone seemed to have for this guy, and given how little he has done to substantiate said erections of idolization, I think his placement here is justified. Crosby busted onto the scene in 2004, hitting 22 home runs in 545 at bats. He's only managed 28 home runs in the 1,040 at bats that have followed. His .239 average is the lowest ever recorded for ROY award winner, breaking Jose Canseco's 1986 mark of .240. While injury hampered his 2005 season, that didn't stop him from reaching his peak of overratedness in Spring of 2006, when many baseball analysts, including Peter Gammons predicted he'd be the AL MVP. He backed up those high expectations with another injury-plagued season where he hit just .229. Now in his fourth season, the regular playing time and being free from the DL hasn't seemed to help. Currently Crosby is hitting .226 and his OBP is a very un-Moneyball-esque .278. To learn more about Bobby Crosby you can go here.

7. Ron Kittle, 1983 - Oh Ron, probably one of the most memorable players from the "guys who wore big glasses in the early 80's" era. Some say the eyeglasses went away with the advancing technology of contact lenses. But in all honesty it was more in part because no one could make it work as well as Ron. That and Chris Sabo's freaky wood shop goggles kind of ruined it for everyone. In Ron's ROY season, he had 75 runs, 132 hits, 19 doubles, 35 home runs, and 100 RBI. Unfortunately those would all be career-best marks for him. Ron is now a motivational speaker, and makes unique benches made from baseball bats. I'm going to lobby for him to come speak at my work during one of our staff meetings. We always get boring people like an old guy from the Red Cross, or some flake that does personality profiles. My only condition being that Ron come looking like he does in the photo at right.

6. Eric Hinske, 2002 - Some of you may not know this but Hinske was once a Cub. True story he was drafted by the Cubs in 1998, but while still in the minors he was traded to the A's for Miguel Cairo in 2001. A year after that he's winning the Rookie of the Year award in Toronto, while Cub fans could only look back at those wonderful 66 games in'01, where we had the privilege of witnessing the Miguel Cairo Experience. Of course Hinske's play beyond 2002 left little to be desired. In 2006, with the additions of Troy Glaus, Lyle Overbay and Shea Hillenbrand, Toronto had nowhere to play Hinske and eventually traded him to Boston for a couple cases of Sam Adams and some cash. Hinske hit .288 for Boston at the end of '06 and things were looking up for the former ROY. But a lackluster 2007 and the stellar play of corner infielders Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell have all but buried Hinske on the bench. Currently he's batting a paltry .204.

5. Joe Charboneau, 1980 - This guy. Joe Charboneau had by far the most abbreviated yet most interesting career of any player on this list. Joe became an overnight success in Cleveland, with his monstrous home runs and his unusual antics, which included opening beer bottles with his eye socket then drinking them with a straw through his nose, eating cigarettes, and dying his hair all sorts of unusual colors. He also performed his own dental work and once fixed a broken nose with pliers and some Jack Daniels. They even made a song about him called "Go Joe Charboneau". He finished his rookie season with a team-high 23 homers. Unfortunately a back injury in his second year all but killed his career. He was never able to fully recover and was out of the majors by 1982.

4. Angel Berroa, 2003 - It's hard to look back now and think that this guy beat out Hideki Matsui, Rocco Baldelli and Mark Teixeira for this award. Hell even Jody Gerut had a decent season that year. In his rookie season, Berroa had career bests in runs, doubles, homers, RBI, AVG, stolen bases, OBP and SLG. Berroa had a couple more serviceable years before becoming a complete bust in 2006. He barely saw any time with the big league club this season before being sent to AAA Omaha while Tony Pena Jr. became the new full-time shortstop. Berroa was currently doing well before getting injured a couple weeks ago. He's batting .300 in Omaha, but keep in mind, this is the same league that has made Ronny Cedeno look like Ted Williams.

3. Pat Listach, 1992 - Next time you're at the bar with your buddies ask them who the 1992 AL Rookie of the Year was. I guarantee you they'll never guess Pat Listach. Listach finished his rookie year with a .290 average and 54 stolen bases. Kenny Lofton finished second in the ROY voting that year with a .285 average and 66 stolen bases. So what happened the next season? Lofton went on to hit .325 and steal 70 bases. Meanwhile ol' Pat hit only .244 with 18 stolen bases in 98 games. Listach was never able to regain the magic of '92 and by the end of the 1997 season had played in his last major league game. So where can you find Pat nowadays? Look no further than the Chicago Cubs farm system. Listach is the manager of the Cubs AA affiliate Tennessee Smokies. He's currently got the team 2 games out of first in the Southern League North Division with a record of 20-19.

2. Bob Hamelin, 1994 - Bob Hamelin always looked like someone you'd likely see destroying the ball for the opposing team in your local beer league. The Royals DH broke out in the strike-shortened season of '94 with 24 home runs in 312 at bats. Bob was never quite the same after that. He stayed in the league a few more seasons, eventually being dropped by the Royals and having brief stints with Detroit and Milwaukee. According to a recent interview, during a game in 1999 playing for AAA Toledo, Bob grounded out, and as he walked back to the dugout decided to call it quits. He now works as a scout for the Washington Nationals.

1. Jerome Walton, 1989 - How often do you have not one, but two players vying for the ROY in the same season, on the same team? That was the case in '89 as the Cubs had two fresh young outfielders in Walton and Dwight "Awwww know" Smith. Their energy and vigor, along with a scrappy young Mark Grace, and legends Ryno and Dawson, sparked the Cubs to have one of their greatest seasons in years. And just like almost every other guy on this list, Walton's rookie year would end up being his high point. The same would go for Smith as well. Following the '89 season both started seeing their playing time being split up between Doug Dascenzo, Curtis Wilkerson and Marvell Wynne. In 1991 George Bell had taken over LF and Dascenzo was seeing more time in CF. By '92 both were out of starting jobs as Dascenzo and Derrick May had taken over for them. While Walton may have never panned out to become the great center fielder we had all hoped, I still have fond memories of '89, and pretending to be Walton or Smith while playing wiffle ball in the neighborhood.