Classically Different

I’m home in Maryland right now, and one of the channels available on TV is the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN). Last night they were showing a “classic” game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Washington Nationals. I tuned into the game in the middle of the 3rd or 4th inning without realizing what was going on. At first I thought it might be a spring training game until I saw the “Nationals Classic” logo. Then I saw that the pitcher for the Nats was Esteban Loaiza. That name really brought me back and triggered an attack of “Wow, didn’t he retire?” My ears perked up again when the announcers talked about Jose Vidro and Vinny Castilla – players I knew were out of the game.

Sure enough, the game took place in 2005, the first year of the Nats’s existence (they were formerly the Montreal Expos). In fact, it was only the third home game ever for the Nats. And it’s funny that I watched this game on MASN, since that network was created in part because the Expos moved to DC to become the Nats (they own part of the network; the Orioles own the other part.)

As I watched a few other batters and pitchers in the game, the thought occurred to me that it’d be interesting to do a “Where are they now?” feature on the players. Fortunately, the Internet (actually, baseball-reference.com) makes this easy.

To wit, the Washington Nationals starting lineup that day:

  • CF Brad Wilkerson – Later played for the Rangers, Mariners, and Blue Jays. Retired after the 2008 season (his final game was against the O’s, no less).
  • SS Christian Guzman – Still playing shortstop for the Nationals. Continuity!!
  • 2B Jose Vidro – Later played for the Mariners. Retired after the 2008 season.
  • RF Jose Guillen – Later played for the Mariners (noticing a trend here?) Currently playing for the KC Royals.
  • 3B Vinny Castilla – (Interesting note: at this point in the 2005 season, Vinny was hitting something like .438.) Later played for the Padres and retired after the 2006 season. (Interesting Note 2: Vinny is from Oaxaca; one of my favorite restaurants in Austin serves delicious coffee from that region. Mmmm.)
  • Nick Johnson, photo by terren in Virginia on flickr 1B Nick Johnson – Stayed on with the Nats for several more years. Later played for the  Marlins but signed with the Yankees after the 2009 season.
  • LF JJ Davis – The only guy on this roster I’d never heard of. He was new to the Nats that year, having come over from Pittsburgh. But he was sent down to AAA soon afterwards, then traded to Colorado, where he retired on May 8, less than a month after this game.
  • C Brian Schneider – Later played for the NY Mets, and in 2009 signed a two-year deal with the Phillies. I guess he is destined to stay in the NL East!
  • P Esteban Loaiza – Later played for Oakland, Los Angeles (where he wore three different numbers), and the White Sox. Retired in the middle of the 2008 season.

If you’re counting, that’s 4/9, or 44%, of the starting lineup that day that is now retired. Probably a reasonable (maybe even low) number given that almost five years have elapsed since that game. Of these guys, only Christian Guzman is still with the Nationals organization.

Now whatever happened to the Arizona Diamondbacks starting lineup?

  • 2B Craig Counsell – He of the “climbing the ladder” batting stance is still in the game with the Brewers, showing the youngsters how it’s done (he’s pushing 40).
  • SS Royce Clayton – Actually played with the Nats in 2006, then went on to a number of different teams before retiring after the 2007 season.
  • LF Luis Gonzalez – The Diamondbacks’s most beloved player (see: 2001 World Series, Game 7) was let go after the 2006 season. He attempted stayed in the game with the Dodgers and later, the Marlins. He retired after the 2008 season, at age 40.
  • 3B Troy Glaus – Glaus played only this one season in Arizona. He moved to Toronto and is now with Atlanta, attempting a comeback of his own after appearing in only 10 games with the Cardinals in 2009.
  • RF Shawn Green – As a well-regarded player who’s also Jewish, Green holds a special place in my heart. He ended his career after the 2007 season with the NY Mets.
  • 1B Chad Tracy – Stuck with the Diamondbacks until 2009, after which he joined the Chicago Cubs on a minor league contract.
  • C Koyie Hill – Currently with the Chicago Cubs, backing up wunderkind (and 2008 ROY) Geovany Soto. Maybe he’s hanging out with Chad?
  • CF Quinton McCracken – The only guy on this roster whom I’d never heard of. Played 45 games with the Reds in 2006, then retired.
  • P Brad Halsey – For someone whose name I remember, Halsey wasn’t in the major leagues long. He played half of 2004 with the Yankees, all of 2005 with the Diamondbacks, and spent 2006 with the A’s as a reliever/spot-starter. He has not appeared in the majors since, although he has attempted to come back several times. Funnily enough, he attended UT Austin and helped the team win the college World Series in 2002. Hook ‘em Horns!!

If you’re counting, that’s 5/9 retired, more than half the team. No member is still with the Diamondbacks.

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