The Ironic Jersey Omnibus returns after a slight hiatus, this time examining the Colorado Rockies. The purpose, for those unaware or forgetful, is to examine a franchise and deliberate not on the finest jerseys available to the consumer, but those that hold a deeper message of joy, disappointment or hipsterism. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.
The Rockies are perhaps one of the greatest challenges to the Omnibus, not only because of the youth of the franchise, but because of the hyperbole created by Coors Field. Glimpse into, for instance, the haunted eyes of one Mike Kingery. The soft-spoken lefty with the career 1.0 WAR earned his name for a single season, hitting .349/.402/.532. Sadly, this sort of thing happens all the time in Colorado.
On the other end of the spectrum you have Dante Bichette. I have no idea what you do with Dante Bichette, his twisted physique or his oddly elfin face. The man received MVP votes four different times. And yet in 1999, a season in which he hit .298 with 34 home runs and 133 RBIs, he managed two come in at nearly two wins below replacement level. Along with Galarraga, Walker, and Castilla, he was one of the early faces of an exciting and slightly purple franchise. Bad as he was, it’s doubtful that you could wear his jersey without simply coming off as nostalgic or cheap.
That said, here are the nominees:
1993 David Nied: You always have to start off with an expansion player, and David Nied was the greatest expansion player in history, based on a very specific definition of greatness. The Rockies didn’t take long to climb their way out of Expansion Hell as a franchise, and it’s strange to think of an expansion figure who isn’t synonymous with endless losing and frustration. Instead, Nied exemplifies the energy and excitement of a new franchise, even as that excitement inevitably fades into reality. He is both historical and temporal, a reminder that life and glory are both fleeting and exhilarating.
1993 Dale Murphy: For the morose, you have the decaying corpse of Dale Murphy, who used the two extra teams in the league to find work. He then completed the kind of fiery tailspin that killed not only his but Andruw Jones’ Hall of Fame chances, hitting .143/.224/.167 in 26 games and basically depressing everyone who looked at him. If Nied represents perpetual youth, Murphy is the sprained ankle that reminds us of our own mortality. On the other hand, Murphy was also considered one of the nicest guys of his era, so his name might boost your charisma.
2001 Mike Hampton: Wearing a Mike Hampton jersey is a multifaceted political statement, mocking the fanciful baseball aristocracy for their nine-figure contracts while simultaneously giving a poke in the eye to the overserious bourgeoisie nursing their ten-dollar cups of Coors Light. It even manages to shake its fist at the heavens; rather than live in fear or superstition, wearing “Hampton” on your back is tantamount to speaking the devil’s name, and bringing upon you his attention. For those who feel Hampton to be too blunt a statement, Denny Neagle is also an option.
2005 Aaron Cook: I doubt that many fans outside the state of Colorado would guess that Aaron Cook is the Rockies’ all-time leader in pitching WAR, and unless Ubaldo Jimenez makes his way back to Denver, that won’t change any time soon. A Cook jersey is a message of patience and perseverance. It announces to the world that, no matter what happens, you plan to show up. As Cook proved, there’s plenty of value in that.
2010 Charlie Blackmon: It’s funny because of how much it hurts. Perhaps we’ll see Charlie again, once the leg heals and Carson uses his seedy underworld connections to remove every position player between him and power. But if not, we’ll always have Mattress Discounters, Chuck.