A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fernando Tatis

Prior to Tatis' arrival with St. Louis, he played with the Rangers. I remember seeing him on highlight reels and thinking, "WOW!" when we got him. He was an up and coming third basemen, and he represented potential for the Cardinals at the time. In those years of the late 1990s, it was nice to see Walt Jocketty building a team that could go to the playoffs for McGwire and all of the other youngsters. There were so many good team players before they threw it all away with Juan Encarnacion and Preston Wilson. For those that don't remember, that was the year that they couldn't clinch the division and almost threw away their entire division lead at the end before they were finally handed the NL Central. At that point, they managed to win the Division Series and the NL Championship. Finally, they faced a hot Detroit team and beat them in 5 games due to being handed the 2006 World Series with crappy defense and some kind of crap on Kenny Rogers hand.
Anyway, in the early re-establishing of my love of baseball, we had guys like JD Drew when we still believed he was worth something. That's long since come to pass and Philadelphia Phillies fans everywhere are glad he didn't sign with them for other reasons than they get to chuck D cell batteries at him or boo him like he was Santa Claus.
We also had Fernando Vina, Jim Edmonds, Edgar Renteria, and Little Mac - Joe McEwing. When Big Mac went down in 2001, we went and got Jack Clark and almost resurrected his career, but there was no resigning him.
Yeah... those were some pretty good times despite Ray Lankford striking out like he was a prototype for Ryan Howard, but that's neither here nor there. In the end, he retired from baseball as most of the once hopeful types do.
It happens.
But Tatis... the man was just a career waiting to happen, and despite it not truly materializing, he did have a memorable April 1999. His first 3 games featured home runs. This was Big Mac-esque. At the time, only Mark McGwire and Willie Mays did that and as one ESPN announcer at the time said, Tatis isn't anywhere close to them.
Then, on April 23rd, he came up twice in the 3rd inning. He did nothing in his first at bat, but in the 2nd at bat, he took Chan "the" Ho Park deep for a grand slam. What happened in his next at bat that inning makes no sense. He came up with the bases loaded again. Park was still in the game. How he wasn't sent to be hosed down by that point, nobody will ever now, but he was in the game, and he served up another juicy pitch that got into Tatis' wheelhouse and that one went bon voyage as well.
Two at bats. One game. Eight RBIs. Two Grandslams.
For the year, Tatis had 29 other homeruns than the 5 I mentioned above. He was a machine.
Then he fell by the wayside and came up on the Mitchell Report radar. In the meantime, he was out of baseball at 28. He came back and got lost again. In 2008, he was the comeback player of the year.
Yet for one night in 1999, he will always be a stat. He's one of 13 people to do it in a game. He's 1 of 1 to do it in the same inning.
For baseball history... that will always be something special.
Whether he'll continue to make it with the Mets in 2010... we can only wonder and hope.

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