In light of David Eckstein's almost, but not quite, retirement, it's only fitting that we decide where he fits on the list of the all time scrappiest San Diego Padres.
It's not an insignificant honor to be included on a list of scrappy players. Among the numerous criteria for being considered for this definitive list, a scrappy player must:
- Be capable of executing a straight steal of home plate because the other team is so completely unimpressed by you that they literally forget that you exist.
- Be resilient to the point of extreme annoyance, defying all odds and yet contributing positively in some small, yet historically insignificant fashion, not like a cockroach, per se, but not unlike a stream of ants embodied in one man.
- Be a slight source of embarrassment to the fans of the team you play for. Like, "Our starting short stop for the World Series? Yeah... Umm..... Chris Gomez.... No. It's OK. It's OK to laugh."
- Be a player who tries much harder than everybody else to make up for some deficiency. The most obvious being size or a lack of baseball talent, but this may also include not being quite as good at playing folk guitar as other local San Diegans or as handsome as other teammates.
- Ability to get a uniform muddy and grass stained even in the apparent absence of mud or grass.
One is disqualified from this list if they have ever been referred to as a "natural talent" or "physically gifted".
WITHOUT FURTHER ADO...
5. David Eckstein - David Eckstein would rank higher on this list except for the fact that he so wanted to be referred to as "scrappy" that it made it even more painful and embarrassing to watch him play for us. Also, his wife is really pretty and talented and it becomes almost impossible to believe that he's relying solely on scrap. Like, I believe you're scrappy, David Eckstein, but no amount of scrap is letting you marry that far above your head. He does get bonus points for excessively waving his bat during his stance as if to say, "I am so scrappy and hopped up on caffeine, I literally can not hold still for two seconds."
4. Chris Denorfia - Chris Denorfia almost doesn't make this list because he is not shorter than 6 feet and yet he fits almost all of the criteria. He put together one of the finest defensive seasons in Padres history in 2010 and yet he's known as the bad fielder who would have to fall down and dive to stop a softly hit ball that lands directly in front of him. Chris Denorfia has been known to make spectacular diving catches while catching a cold. People often watch him play and wonder if he must be getting paid to be trying so hard. Like, jeez dude. Settle down a bit.
3. Chris Gomez - Some would have you believe that Chris Gomez was one of the worst short stops to ever wear a major league uniform and they'd have some pretty good statistical evidence. And yet there he was, seemingly year after year playing for the Padres. If he was your favorite Padre during his time here, nobody would've blamed you at the time, but now you would attribute that to youth and not knowing anything about anything.
2. Eric Owens - I sometimes think that Eric Owens is actually still active in the major leagues somewhere and has simply taken his scrappiness to the level of wearing a fat suit, impersonating an overweight DH from the Dominican. During his brief stint with the Padres, Eric Owens was never known to not take an extra base. Devilishly quick on the base paths, one could not be blamed for mistaking him for an elf that makes shoes for needy cobblers as opposed to a professional baseball player. His straight steal of home is still remembered in Padres folklore as it happened against Brett Tomko, a right handed pitcher, with a left handed hitter at-bat, meaning everybody in the world had a perfectly clear view of Eric Owens except for anybody that could've done anything to prevent it. In the process of that particular steal, Owens also managed to distract Tomko so badly that the pitcher rolled his ankle during the pitch and was forced to leave the game.
1. Tim Flannery - While many of today's younger Padres fans remember Tim Flannery as the overenthusiastic third base coach for our San Diego Padres and/or a decent folk singer who would smoke weed at Rugburns shows and hang out with Steve Poltz, he is and will be known as the San Diego Padres true scrapper. A cloud of dirt would follow Tim Flannery around the beaches of San Diego, warding off panhandlers and gypsies. As a third base coach for the team, he tried to impart his scrappiness onto other players by never actually putting up a stop sign. Legend has it that after becoming a third base coach, he had his right arm replaced with a propeller from a retired Navy fighter plane from WWII.