Editor's Note: This is a response to our most recent FanPost Friday prompt. To tell us about your irrational favorite Rockie, start your own FanPost today!
A cup of coffee. A flash in the pan. Just a taste of the show. For the man affectionately known as "El Tigre", his cup of coffee was too cold, his flash not nearly bright enough, his sampling of the show all too bitter. For the man made famous by sharing a name with a Diamondbacks legend, Luis A. Gonzalez was, and still is, my irrationally favorite player to wear purple pinstripes.
Gonzalez first burst onto the major league scene in 2004 with a more than respectable .292/.330/.799 line as a rookie. Right at the beginning stages of my Rockies fanaticism, OUR Luis captured my admiration because he played the game like a Swiss Army Knife. Maybe the man without a true home on the diamond, Gonzalez traveled Coors field like the lovable nomad he was, playing 6 different positions his rookie season. As a 13 year old in the midst of my own season, I could relate to Gonzalez. It didn't matter what position I had to play, I just wanted to get on the field. That's what I saw in Gonzalez; the ultimate teammate who was willing to wear whatever glove he needed to.
My opinion of Gonzalez was further vilified when in MVP Baseball 2005 (hands down THE best baseball game of all time) made Gonzalez the absolute stud muffin. You bet that whenever I conducted a fantasy draft, he was guaranteed a roster spot. I still remember that time as being the first time I felt the "prospect puppy love". I thought, 'This is my guy! No one else knew about this guy before me, and he's good!"
But just like everything else in life, happiness is on a time limit.
In 2005 Gonzalez played in more than 20 more games for the Rockies, putting up a nearly identical stat line from the year before. He even played 10 games at 1B. He was the original Ian Desmond and don't you forget it!
But by the offseason after the season, the prospect shine began to wear off. 60 games into the 2007 season, Gonzalez had a -0.5 WAR, was drawing less walks, showing little to no power, and guys like Kaz Matsui, Troy Tulowitzki, and Jamey Carroll made Gonzalez obsolete and expendable.
The following offseason, the Rockies threw Gonzalez away like a pair of socks you've worn for 1 day. The least you could do is flip them inside and get another day out of them...right? Right?
I, of course, now realize that rule only applies to underwear.
Following Gonzalez's early termination, my pre-teen life took a major turn for the worse. I began listening to bands like Panic at the Disco. I would poor milk first, cereal second. Life didn't make sense. But then, Rocktober happened. The sun rose again, and baseball and purple pinstripes were real and my team mattered! Soon after, I realized my first true prospect love in Luis Gonzalez was unreasonable. Beautiful, but faulted.
Gonzalez would never go on to play affiliated ball after the 2006 season, leaving me to believe he may have been a butthead in the locker room. I of course, have no way to prove this, but you can imagine, right? Luis finished his baseball career in 2011, combining for a professional stat line of .287/.343/.756. The man may have proved to be just average, but for me, it came down to being able to relate to a player on MY team.
While the passion was a bit misguided, Gonzalez helped fuel my fandom for not only the Rockies, but for the game of baseball. And for that, I will always remember El Tigre. OUR, Luis A. Gonzalez.