Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jumping Jacks (Or Apple Jacks...They're Yummy)

"Firstly, I'd like to thank the city of Cleveland for being so welcoming--I've always wanted to be a part of the Indians organization..."
(two years later)
"In my heart I always wanted to play for the New York Yankees..."
(six months later)
"The Oakland A's has a great organization and I'm glad to be a part of that..."
(one year later)
"Ever since I was a little boy, I always wanted to play for the Baltimore Orioles..."
Wait. What.

In my head, I always felt really bad for those guys who would be on the chopping block of a team (regardless of league) every two months or so because they just didn't have the ability to fit anywhere or they were just kind of "in the way" of some midseason trade and had to be let go. There have been so many athletes that have been on more than five teams in a career of ten or eleven years. You kind of wonder whether they kept moving their families with them or just gave up on that concept and said: "Hey guys, I'll be back and forth for about six months--hope you don't mind."

Well, this post is dedicated to the men I like to call Jumping Jacks...this is not to be confused with "Jumpin' Joe" from the film The Babe.

Think of the Jumping Jacks this way: because they're jumping to so many teams, people might not think it's because they're horrible at what they do (that's what being designated for assignment or getting released is for, kids), but it's because they have a sour reputation. Well...there are some instances where both are actually true.

"I present to you...Exhibit A."

Exhibit A: Milton Bradley

Oh yes, the dear Parker Brothers--wait. I knew I was going to get that name wrong again. Currently a free agent, he has played for eight teams since the year two-thousaaaaaaaand. No really, he has. It's not like he was a terrible player the whole time. Click here and see that he was not an abysmal player in the least bit. Unfortunately, this guy had massive bats in his belfry and sought for treatment in the most awkward times possible. For example, when he played for the Cubs, he stated that there was negativity in the organization and said something along the lines of, "no wonder these guys haven't won anything in 100 years." Then he'd apologize for saying something that a ten-year old would say. How sweet.

Here's a nice exception to this rule:

"I present to you...Exhibit B."

Exhibit B: Matt Stairs

Fourteen teams (one of which is in Japan), and the most pinch-hit home runs in Major League history. Awww, sounds like a happy ending, doesn't it? He may have jumped around to more than ten teams in a nearly 20-year career, but those years were productive years. The video above should just be enough proof of that.

If this sounds too journalistically cliched, I'm sorry, but he's sort of like an Apple Jack--he's too sugary to have all of the time but when the time is right, breakfast is just completely awesome with him. Plus, in his role, that's something that is only beneficial every couple of years. Guys like pinch hitters or particular linemen or fourth-line hockey players aren't usually your "franchise guys." They pretty much jump around like it's their job.

These "Jumping Jacks" are all a pawn in the realm of sports. They're like those cards you find in a booster pack that beef up your spellcaster and save them from impending doom--that is, until another good card that fits more efficiently comes your way. You know how people say they were "called" to do certain things in life? Well, these guys might not realize it, but they've answered their call to not be steady men. Oh no, I've spilled the beans.

Here's something you might not think of: it's almost a life lesson that people are going to come and go in your life, and some of them are going to make a lot of awesome memories with you, but you can't hold onto these people forever because they have to make a living on a different path.
[I can't end my post like that...that's so Disney that it makes me want to hurl up the Apple Jacks I actually ate for breakfast this morning...]

Anyway, it's not the most interesting path one can take, but sometimes they're that unknown spice in the spice rack that can really rock your dinner table. Okay, this is getting really bad. I'm ending it here.