Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Forgotten Heroes of Yester-year, I

The city of London, Ontario has only produced a handful of people of note over the past 30-ish years in my estimation. First, the lovely Rachel McAdams. Second, local punk legends The Forgotten Rebels. And third, the presently-unemployed 2006 World Baseball Classic hero Adam Stern.

Most days I probably jam a dozen or so names into rotoworld when I hit writer's block and need to take a quick break from work. I really can't say what possessed me to check in on Stern this afternoon, but I was pretty depressed to see this update from Oct. 19 of last year:

Adam Stern was removed from the Orioles 40-man roster on Thursday.
Stern has good speed and had a chance to open the 2007 season in Baltimore, but was sidelined with an oblique strain for most of spring training. He should get a chance to play in Triple-A in 2008 with another organization.

Stern, as you can probably remember, had a corker of a game in the first round of the WBC against Team USA that probably rates as the greatest all-round single game performance I can recall. In an 8-6 upset that was briefly known up here as the "Miracle on Grass" (until we lost the next game to a bunch of Mexican scrubs and didn't proceed to the second round, anyhoo...), he came a double away from hitting for the cycle (the HR being an inside the parker), knocked in 4 runs, and made a couple of dazzling catches in centrefield.

Stern had been in a handful of games for the Bosox in 2005--early 2006 preview mags that came out before the January '06 Coco Crisp trade even had him listed as the Bosox starting CF--but it wasn't until the WBC that he really showcased himself as a plus CF defender with blinding speed and some of that je ne sais quoi that some sports journos can't seem to get enough of. Too bad there was no job for him in Beantown by that point, though.

Redundant in Boston, Stern was shipped off to the hapless O's at the end of the '06 season and appeared to have a decent shot at winning a backup spot on what was a pretty cruddy ballclub coming into last season. (Seriously, is Jay Gibbons half-goblin, or what? Can they not issue him with a paper bag instead of a ballcap?) Alas, oblique trouble slowed him to a pretty weak sub-.700 OPS at AAA Norfolk in '07, making him expendible in Bal'mer. He'll probably get picked as minor league depth by someone, but it looks like the odds of him returning to, much less sticking in, the bigs are getting pretty slim.

Still, for a fleeting moment just under a year ago it looked like the future was bright for a local boy and I counted myself amongst his biggest boosters. Nobody can take that one-man wrecking crew WBC performance away from him and if the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has room for guys like this, I'm pretty confident that there are some accolodes awaiting Stern even if he doesn't play another game in his life.

Good on you, lad.


The Mockingbird, a very fine Jays blog you should definitely be reading, has kindly invited us here at The Southpaw to join a Jays blogger fantasy baseball league. We graciously accept and will update our readers over the coming months on how how we're doing. Pride is certainly on the line, as are some old Eddie Zosky baseball cards apparently. The pot is too rich for us to turn down.

-- Johnny Was

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