June 06, 2012

Singing for an Unsung

Randy Velarde,1995 Pinnacle

Today’s card comes courtesy of baseball card blogger and generally pleasant person, Chunter. Let us all thank and praise him!

Unfortunately I had gone months without thinking about Randy Velarde, but Chunter was able to remedy that with one quick email. My wish now is that all of you will think about Randy Velarde more often, like I do, and in the manner that I do, which is to say fondly, with a sprinkle of not knowing his ethnicity.

As a Yankee fan growing up, Randy Velarde was always, like …how do I put this? … there. On the team. Doing things. Being around. Stuff like that. I have many memories of him being on the team when things happened.

I have just gone back and re-read the above paragraph, and I do not think I have adequately captured what I am feeling re: Randy Velarde. I need some help. Back of the card?

Randy is the type of player most teams would gladly carry on their roster.

Bam. There it is. Normally I don’t like to promote sensationalism, but you’ve got me hooked, card. I want to know more. For example, 1) what makes teams glad about having Randy Velarde on their roster?2) Are teams that do not have Randy Velarde on their roster sad? 3) You say“most” teams. Are there teams that are open about not being glad about potentially having Randy Velarde on their roster? Can you tell me which teams these are so I can hate them? (None of these questions will be answered, by the way.)

In case you have not felt the impact of this lede, consider that “We’d be glad to carry you on our roster” is the “you complete me” of organization-to-baseball-player compliments.

Largely unsung,

I find it hard to believe that this bench player who makes his organization glad by being on the roster is not also a superstar. As we can see by the word "largely," Velarde IS sung in some small circles, so there is that. But I do wonder how a player like Velarde manages to press on without the accolades reserved for people who are better than him at baseball.

he is nonetheless one of the more valuable Yankees for all the things he can do.

In the interest of fairness, I wanted to set this statement against my own personal value rankings of the Top 10 ’95 Yankees, along with a brief statement of what makes each player so valuable.

1)     Don Mattingly (most valuable player fo’ life)
2)     Pat Kelly (Irish)
3)     Melido Perez (jheri curl)
4)     Scott Bankhead (funny name)
5)     Wade Boggs (beer drinker, horse rider)
6)     Randy Velarde (does lots of things)
7)     Jack McDowell (rocker)
8)     Paul O’Neill (always pissed off, Irish)
9)     Darryl Strawberry (hits home runs sometimes)
10) Steve Howe (jk)

Granted, these value rankings aren’t necessarily what someone would call “sabermetric,” but I don't apologize that they're FROM MY GUT, OKAY? I also think they show beyond the shadow of a doubt that Randy Velarde was, in fact, one of the more valuable Yankees of his era. But let’s get more specific as to why.

Mainly, Randy fills in at second base, shortstop, third and left field quite frequently.

- - - - - - - -
Bar, Manhattan

Woman: Hey, handsome. What’s your name?

Randy Velarde: Name’s Randy. I’m largely unsung.

Woman: Hmmm, interesting. What do you do?

Velarde: Well, I don’t like to brag, but I do fill in at second base, shortstop, third base, and left field … quite frequently.

Woman: Sounds valuable. Can you buy me a drink?

End scene.

- - - - - - - -

He’s almost like a guy who plays regularly but he doesn’t have a regular position.

He’s almost like a guy who is like that. Not quite though.But you keep at it, Randy Velarde, and maybe someday the back of a baseball card will definitively recognize you as a regular player without a regular position.

Always ready when called upon,

Far be it from me to nitpick praise for Randy Velarde, butt hat’s sort of his job. Were he not ready, that would be a problem.

Buck Showalter: Randy, get in there!

Randy Velarde: Can't! Not ready.

Showalter: Oh, my bad. In an unrelated matter, you're fired.

Velarde: I'm ready now!

Randy hits the ball to all fields, advances runners and gets on base.

The role player trifecta, if you replace "gets on base" with "does whatever it takes to win." In 1999 Velard e hit 16 home runs and posted a solid .845 OPS as an everyday player. Granted, he may have been aided in this endeavor by parking lot steroid injections, but whatever. That's just an example of a largely unsung guy trying to be more valuable, and I'm not here to pass judgement. I'm here to say: Randy Velarde, you can fill in at (position) on the roster of my nostalgia anytime.


Chunter said...

Hee hee...I'm pretty sure Jack McKeon uses baseball card backs to determine his players' intangibles. Who needs sabermetrics?

mkenny59 said...

Thanks again, Chunter. By the way, I apologize for the words running together and for the consistent issue of the last paragraph being in a different font ... blogger issue, will try and address.