December 28, 2011

Historical Deliciousness

Ron Gant, 1990 Donruss Diamond Kings

I trust everyone has seen the film, “The Miraculous Redemption of Ron Gant,” starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as a baseball player who is good at playing baseball, and then not so good, and then good again. It is a gripping, moving film, especially the part where the horse dies, which pretty much came out of nowhere.

Let us revisit that story, based on actual events.

Ron Gant recorded a year of near miraculous redemption.

Go on …

He was a 1988 Rookie of the Year candidate—

In that he was rookie. It’s not as if these guys have to publicly declare their candidacies once they obtain the required signatures. You or I would be a Rookie of the Year candidate if we were inserted into the major leagues via some hilarious scenario in which our cheap and crazy uncle owned a baseball team.

he finished 4th in the voting.

This is a lukewarm introduction to this miracle. Other players who have finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting include Kerry Ligtenberg, Aaron Miles, Chris Gomez, and Rich Loiselle. Even if those men experienced a similar redemption that I am assuming is forthcoming in this case, I am probably not seeing that movie. Actually, yes I am. Who am I kidding.

Then 1989 was a year of turmoil as he struggled at a new position—third base—and in late June was optioned to Class A Sumter where he was moved to centerfield.

This is so not rare that there is a common term for it described as a “sophomore slump.” So just to recap: “Pretty good rookie experiences sophomore slump” is the Cliff Notes of the first six lines of the back of this card, if you’d simply like to skip to the redemptive part, although it's probably too late for that now if you've already read all this. Sorry.

He regrouped and began his climb back to the Braves.

MONTAGE! There’s no easy way out … There’s no short-cut home!

And now he is Donruss’ National League Comeback Player of the Year,

First of all, that is a rather abrupt conclusion to this miraculous story. Where is the part where an old high school baseball coach gives Ron Gant a motivational speech and then discovers a hitch in his swing and then fixes it and then dies? And who does Donruss think it is dishing out its own rewards like that? This isn’t the USA Today/Coaches/ESPN college football rankings, where you get to choose who you want to listen to—MLB issues the awards and that’s it, Donruss! Get over yourself. Also, is this a Diamond King card or Comeback Player of the Year card? Finally, okay, I’ll bite: Why is Ron Gant Donruss’ National League Comeback Player of the Year?

because in 1990 he wrote delicious history.

Oh, okay. Because he wrote history that is pleasing to my sense of taste. Got it.

He hit 32 HR and had 33 SB; only the third Braves player to reach the 30-30 Club.

Yummy! But how is that history, much less delicious history, other than that it was recorded like all data is recorded all the time? Any other laurels?

Other laurels were 84 RBI, a league 4th best

RBI are stupid, but mentioning 84 RBI as a thing to be impressed by is just—how should I put this?—not very delicious. Eight-four RBI is Nick Swisher. And again with the fourth best? I prefer my Diamond Kings to be first best at everything, but that’s just me. I have high standards.

107 runs (again 4th best)

Ron Gant: The first best at being fourth best. Coincidentally, “The Miraculous Redemption of Ron Gant” opened fourth at the box office, just slightly behind “Snow Dogs II: Dogs at the Beach.” Cuba made a killing.


Justin said...

Gant was a beast. Buffest player in MLB back then? I wore #5 in high school because of him.

A tasty article, for sure. Why were the Donruss Kings illustrations so horrible?

mkenny59 said...

He was a beast indeed. As far as the Donruss illustrations ... I mean, at least this is one of the first I have seen that doesn't make the player look 80 years older than he really is.

Was he is the buffest player back then? Tough to say ...

I'll say "yes." At the very least, he was the player with the Zebra-est spandex.

Thanks, Justin!

Bill said...

"There’s no easy way out … There’s no short-cut home!"

Well played with Rocky IV soundtrack lyrics, where he's taking a drive and remembering moments including the one that just happened where Ivan Drago killed Apollo Creed in the ring. Er, I mean, I've never seen that movie 50 times. Also, spoiler alert.

Dan said...

"Delicious history" on a baseball card? Who came up with that? It guessing it wasn't the bat boy for Billy Ripken.