“Yeah, I Don’t Know Why I’m Here Either…”

Jeff Gardner was a non-drafted free agent that made good.

He was the definition of an organizational player – a good soldier that could play second or short and not be terribly horrific and help the prospects along and not complain if he was yanked out of the lineup because of them.

But somehow, someway, when kids everywhere opened this pack of cards, here he was, in the majors, and the regular second baseman for the Padres.

He was in the second series, so this may have been in spring training. But why was he here?

Gardner beat the odds and had two cups of coffee with the Mets and Padres in 1991 and 1992. He struggled.

For the Mets in 1991, he hit .162 and committed six errors in eight games at shortstop.

The Padres called him up after a good season in Las Vegas, but he hit .105.

So he was a finge player going into the spring of 1993. Kurt Stillwell and Tim Teufel were the second basemen in 1992, and they were still around in 1993. But Gardner caught they eye of Jim Riggleman. And he batted lefty, and Teufel was always platooned.

Ergo, Gardner was the second baseman for most of the year.

He played in 140 games, started 96. Didn’t hit that much (85 OPS+) and didn’t field well (-16 fielding runs). He definitely was a scrappy AAA player forced into the majors. That Padres team was just rotten (61-101) and they were the worst kind of rotten. They were rotten without something glaring pointing out going “A-HA!”. They weren’t last in runs nor last in runs given up. They were 11 wins behind their pythagorean projection but that was mostly luck, damn luck, and a bad team finding ways to always lose.

Gardner wasn’t the weak link in the chain, by far. And he was just happy to be there!

He spent the next year between Ottawa and Montreal, then some time in Iowa in 1995 and that was it.

But heck, one full year in the bigs, as the starter at second? Yes, the team was bad, but it’s the bigs…

Sign me up!


Shawon-O-Meter – .269 And Holding

Ah, the Shawon-O-Meter. Remember that?

Brilliant! Unfortunately, they did something like this for a player that wasn’t that good, and then injuries curtailed his career as a regular.

Dunston had a powerful arm, and power for a 1980’s shortstop, but he was undone by his inability to take a walk.

That didn’t bother the Cubs in 1992. Before Shawon got hurt, he led off for 16 games. The second place hitter? Sammy Sosa. At that time Sammy was also a member of the Rob Picciolo appreciation society. A Dunson / Sosa 1-2 punch.

Somehow, on April 8, 1992, Dunston AND Sosa walked to begin the game against Tommy Greene. The odds of that were fantastically tiny. Then, Ryne Sandberg cracked a three-run homer.

And being the Cubs, they lost to the Phillies 11-3. This is why I’m in my 12-step recovery program for Cubs fans.

I Gotta Lay Off The Sauce!

It’s a happy day here! Yes, it’s snowing and it will be 8 to 10 inches (that’s what she said)! Yes, the Mrs. and I had to cancel our date tonight.

But, my alma mater (Wabash College) is beating the snot out of its arch-rival DePauw 47-0. And in case you were wondering, it’s for the Monon Bell – and this win will put Wabash in charge of the all-time series 55-53-9. Also, DePauw wasn’t some patsy, they were 9-0 going into the game and qualified for the NCAA D-3 playoffs by winning their conference. However, Wabash had an outside shot at the playoffs as they would have a 3-way tie for first in their conference if Wooster beats Wittenberg thanks to some crazy-go-nuts tie-breaker (all three teams would be 5-1 in the NCAC). (NUTS: Wittenberg just scored with 1:22 left to take the lead.)

And yes, it’s funny, the “big boys’ can’t have playoffs but the kids who actually go to class and study have a 32-team tournament. And lest ye make fun of D-3 football, remember that Colts’ wide receiver Pierre Garcon is an alum of Mt. Union and London Fletcher hails from John Carrol U.

Anyway, with all that going on, I’m posting this one because, well, it intrigues me. And it makes my head hurt. All in one.

Now, I gotta go help my neighbor. This snow is wet and heavy, and a tree fell onto his squad car (he’s a cop).