Sunday, April 27, 2014

Short Stay Sunday: Rey Ordonez

For today's edition of Short Stay Sunday, I'll be featuring a player who I had an odd attachment to when he was on the roster.  This guy was known for his defense and not much else; basically, he was a modern day Mario Mendoza with an exceptionally better glove.  His name is Rey Ordonez and he was briefly a Cub in the summer of 2004.

Oh, those 2004 Cubs.... to this day, thinking of that disappointing collapse makes my stomach turn.  After the near miss in 2003 and the high quality imports brought in in the off-season, it truly felt like the Cubs were destined to end the drought.  Instead, they underachieved and blew it in the end.

However, Rey Ordonez was only a minor factor in that gut-wrenching blow up.  The longtime Met won 3 straight Gold Glove awards at shortstop from 1997-1999.  However, his defense was the only thing that assured his starting spot; his batting average as a Met was a weak .245 with an even more pathetic OPB of .290.  Needless to say, he was an easy out.

Rey was traded away to Tampa for 2003 after calling Mets fans stupid, never a good idea, and then injuries robbed him of most of the season.  Suddenly, Rey was at a career crossroads.

He went into 2004 battling with an unknown rookie named Khalil Greene for the shortstop job in San Diego.  Obviously, he lost that battle and again found himself on the scrap heap.  Things were looking pretty bleak for Rey, but then Alex Gonzalez broke his wrist.

 Gonzo - why couldn't you field that groundball?

Alex Gonzalez, simultaneously a postseason hero and goat during the magical 2003 playoff run, took a pitch off of his wrist that May and found himself sidelined for several weeks.  Enter Rey Ordonez.

GM Jim Hendry signed Rey to be Rey.  That is, all he needed to do was bring his Gold Glove and at least look like he knew how to hold a bat.  However, he only held up one end of that bargain.

In his time to shine, Rey had the worst offensive season of his career and that is certainly saying something.  In 23 games, Rey batted .164 at a time when the Cubs were in the thick of the playoff race.  Obviously this wouldn't cut it.

That July, the Cubs cut ties with Ordonez.  Alex Gonzalez was back and unbeknownst to us at the time, soon to be included in a blockbuster three-way trade to acquire Nomar Garciaparra to take over at short.  Obviously Ordonez was dead weight.

 Nomahh - soon to be the hero of many Chicago children

In an ironic twist, Gonzalez ended the season at the starting shortstop for San Diego, the very team that cut Ordonez to begin the season.  Baseball is a funny sport.

With that, Rey Ordonez's MLB career was over and done with.  He found himself out of baseball for the rest of 2004 and all of '05.  He attempted a brief comeback in '06 with Seattle and looked to have made the team out of spring training.  That is, until a late trade with San Francisco for Jason Ellison pushed him out of the picture.  He refused a minor league assignment, saying "he was too old for that," took his ball and went home.

So, why was I attached to a player far past their prime on a team that was doomed to disappoint Cubs fans for the rest of their lives?  I always root for the underdog.

I always want to see that career minor-leaguer get his chance to succeed in the majors, to see a "4A" player make it to the bigs and succeed, to see an aging veteran come in and see one successful go around before calling it quits.  Thus, I developed special affinities for guys like Bobby Scales, Bryan LaHair and, you guessed it, Rey Ordonez.

C'mon - who wasn't rooting for these guys to stick?

Not to mention, he hit his only homer of the season against the White Sox.  As a Cub fan deep in the south side of Chicago, anyone who showed it to the Sox and got the kids at school to shut up was cool in my book!

This card itself was acquired just yesterday at a community wide garage sale day in Coal City.  I have several Rey Ordonez cards, however this one shot to the top of the stack because it features him wearing the number zero.  I love it when players wear unorthodox numbers; you have to change things up after all!

Its the matte version of the 1996 edition of Fleer.  While I'd rather have the glossy one, this one is definitely satisfactory.  Unfortunately, since Rey's time with the Cubs was so short and over by late summer, he never got a card with a Cubs jersey, not even in Update.

But, that was far from the only thing I got at the garage sales; in fact, I got a whole bunch of new cards to show off.  They'll be divided into two posts, starting on Tuesday (tomorrow is Old as Moses Monday after all).

I'm sure you're all waiting with bated breath.

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