Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Rise of the Submariner

I collected comic books back in the early part of my teen years.  Much like how I collect baseball cards (one card of each Cubs player), rather than read or dedicate myself to a series or character, I gathered at least one comic book of each super hero.  I guess this is how I operate.

Also, like my infatuation with the roster-filler/bubble guys on the Cubs roster (who else remembers Rey Ordonez's Cubs tenure?), my favorite super heroes were the more obscure types - Union Jack, Green Arrow, Blue Beetle, etc.

I swear that I'm not a hipster.

One such (relatively) obscure hero/anti-hero was the Submariner.  I say relative because I'm sure he's well-known and loved in comic book circles; however, he ain't Spiderman.

Image courtesy of

At the risk of over-simplifying things, if you aren't familiar with the guy, he's basically the Marvel equivalent of Aquaman:  hails from Atlantis, master of the seas, etc.  He alternates between bad and good due to a lasting beef with the human race and, at various points, is even part of the Avengers.  I wonder if he'll ever pop up in the movie franchise?

There is much, much, much more nuance to the character, however, that's really all you need to know for the purpose of this blog post.

So, where am I going with this?  What this any of this have to do with the Cubs or baseball cards?

Well, yesterday the Cubs called up their own Submariner - reliever Ben Rowen now rises to the Bigs:

Ben pitching for the Pelicans - then a Rangers affiliate, now a Cubs affiliate
Image courtesy of Jake Rose on Flickr

While this version is unable to breathe under water, I'd settle for the ability to get opposing batters out.

Originally from the Rangers organization, the side-armer has had an eventful year.  After being released by Texas last December, he signed on with the Dodgers only to be traded to Baltimore in the much-ballyhooed Ryan Webb deal from the beginning of the season.  He was then released by the Orioles on the fourth of July.

That's no way to celebrate America's birthday.

He now gets a chance to stick in one place for a while courtesy of Neil Ramirez suffering some abdominal pain - make it count Ben!

Anyway, pending his first appearance, I'll need to be adding this new bullpen piece to my CATRC.  Seeing as his time in the Majors thus far has been limited to an 8 game cuppacoffee last season and he isn't a heralded prospect, he doesn't have much in the way of cardboard:

He had two cards in Bowman products in 2013; on the left in the standard Bowman base and on the right is the Bowman Retail Prospects autograph special or whatever it's actually called.

Then, of course, there is the Bowman Chrome version of the base card and the bevy of parallels for each card as well; but these are the basics.

Rowen also had a card in last year's edition of Onyx Authenticated, one of  the "off-brand" unlicensed sets.  They remind me of the 2008 Playoff Contenders set for some reason.

While, I generally prefer cards with MLB logos and I also have an irrational distaste of horizontal cards, this example perfectly encapsulates his oddball delivery and the blurry baseball on the bottom right corner is a masterful touch.

Oddball Submariner delivery on an oddball card - there's something symbolic in that.

No, not that symbol!  It's not even for the right superhero; not even the right universe!
Image courtesy of Video Games Fanon

Anyway, if anybody has a lead on any of these cards or their parallels, I'd be more than happy to compensate.  Lord knows I won't be able to find any singles of such an obscure guy from such rarely busted sets in my LCS.  Actual quote from one of my proprietors upon a similar inquiry, "You always are looking for such weird stuff..."

I guess I gotta keep him on his toes?

Meanwhile, here's hoping that Rowen can help solidify a bullpen that has been a bit iffy since the All-Star break ended.  That is, if he isn't immediately bumped by a big trade deadline acquisition or something like that.

Joe Maddon, who had Chad Bradford at his disposal with the Rays, is a big fan of the Submariner and the different look he'll bring to opposing batters.  “I love funk,” Maddon said. “I’ve always been a funk guy. The funk is good. Whenever you get funk in the bullpen, I like that.’’

We got the funk, gotta have that funk.

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully Rowen will baffle hitters much the way Chad Braford did. I think returning Rondon to the closers role is also a good way to get the bullpen back on tack. His fastball was absolutely filthy yesterday!