I'm usually pretty easygoing when it comes to players' comings and goings from the Cardinals, you know? Hey, it's a business; sometimes a guy just doesn't fit into a ball club's plans.
But there is one player the Cardinals have let walk in the last couple of years that I just flat out can't get over; one guy whose departure shook my fandom to its very core, and has continued to eat at me in the years since he left.
The player? Julian Tavarez.
My father and I used to call Tavarez "Slingblade," both for his odd resemblance to the Billy Bob Thornton character and the odd bobbing and weaving that he often did with his head on the mound. I remember once, with a runner on second, Tavarez stepped off the rubber, and rather than fake a throw to move the runner back, he simply stared the guy back by pushing his head aggressively toward the bag, sort of like the way I imagine a giant, hyperintelligent rooster would indicate where he wanted you to go.
Tavares, eating lunch and fantasizing about his new 600 pound lady.
Don't get me wrong, now; my love for Tavarez had almost nothing to do with his on-field performance. He was a pretty good setup man, and that's really about it. But when it came to all the other stuff you got with the Julian Tavarez Experience, dude. The guy was golden.
"Why did I sign with the Nationals? When you go to a club at 4 in the morning, and you're just waiting, waiting, a 600-pounder looks like J. Lo. And to me this is Jennifer Lopez right here. It's 4 in the morning. Too much to drink. So, Nationals: Jennifer Lopez to me."
Seriously, is that not the greatest thing you've ever heard an athlete say? No, fuck that: that may be the greatest thing that anyone, anywhere, has ever said, period. One day Julian Tavarez will be the only person in Bartlett's
, and that quote will be the only thing in the whole damn book. Six hundred blank pages, and then that. And you know what? It will totally be worth the $39.50, just to have that quote on your shelf.
Honestly, how can you possibly let that guy go? Whatever the Nationals are paying him, it isn't even close to enough. If he doesn't throw a single pitch for them this year, he's already earned far more than whatever they're paying him this year. What I'm amazed by is the fact that the Nats fans in the comments section can't see his greatness. Unbelievable.
God, I miss that guy.