I remember reading T.R. Sullivan’s report indicating that the Rangers had just signed the lovable Eddie Guardado (here).
I was less than enamored.
The 37 year old lefty had Tommy John surgery in September of ’06 and really stunk up the joint in limited duty while rehabbing last year with the Reds.
Couple the TJ surgery with his age, it was surely yet another failed comeback story wasn’t it?
Wrong, never underestimate a man’s heart.
I remember watching him at the beginning of the season and was intrigued by his story, mainly because, well, everyone likes a comeback story right? And the Rangers lead the league in comeback stories thus far.
The intrigue then turned into obsession.
This transformation occured Saturday, May 17th, 2008 against the Astros. We had cheap but good seats (yes, it’s possible). Our seats were in Right-Center field, right behind the plate in the Rangers’ bullpen. I’d keep looking over at the players, watching them kinda monkey around with one another, CJ Wilson acting as the ring leader……imagine that….
The sixth inning rolled around, out came Eddie from the clubhouse to the bullpen, holding three cups of coffee, everyone chilled. Not out of fear, but it seemed as though they didn’t want to let Eddie down or something, couldn’t quite explain it.
He maticulously lined up the coffee along the bullpen wall as everyone sat in what appeared to be barstools. CJ went over to Eddie’s area, you could see that CJ’s mood had gone from light to serious fairly quickly.
Hopefully he was over there just soaking in what Eddie had to offer.
Most teams have a grizzled, wily veteran on their squad. Lots of times he’s on the 40-man to do just what Eddie was doing at that moment, holding court and teaching the kids what he’d do on various pitchcounts. Typically these guys pitch in mop up duty only…..But, not Eddie, he isn’t one of those guys, rag-arm and all, the man can still pitch.
Not because of stuff, but because of heart, all heart.
You see, Eddie MIGHT top out at 87 mph. He is consistently 82-85 with his fastball. You may be saying, well, he must have some nasty offspeed stuff and he just uses the fastball as a “show me” pitch.
Eddie goes right at hitters with that B.P. fastball. He works fast (probably due to the coffee) and he throws strikes. He is tenacious and he exudes a confidence (not cockiness) that every ball player should learn.
I remember in 2004 when we made a mini-run at the end of the year. Carlos Almanzar and Frankie Francisco were our setup guys and Francisco Cordero was the closer.
When those guys got up in the bullpen, fans in the right field stands would begin to stir, when the last out was made in the bottom of the 6th inning, and one of those boys was heading out the door to take the mound….it created pandamonium, the place went APESH!T. And it gave me goosebumps.
I hope we can see a little run here in the second half, I’m not expecting a ring, I just want to see Eddie running out to the middle of the diamond to chants of “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie” (I’m getting goosebumps thinking about it)
Eddie Guardado deserves to go out on top, to go out like a champion, whether it’s with a ring on his finger or not.
Because Eddie Guardado is what it’s all about, Eddie Guardado is the definition of old school.