Thursday, September 17, 2015
How Alex Gordon Saved a Franchise
Flash back with me, if you will, to 2006. The White Sox were the defending World Series champions, Johan Santana was still a legitimate threat, and Upper Deck still had an MLB license.
The Kansas City Royals were also a completely different team. First and foremost, with the exception of Zack Greinke, they had no pitching. They were emphasizing on younger stars like Angel Berroa and Mark Teahen who wouldn't really pan out, while still holding onto aging stars like Mike Sweeney and Mark Grudzielanek. The Royals' priorities were in all the wrong places in 2006, and they were getting into their rut of landing at the bottom of the AL Central (or near the bottom thanks to the Tigers).
However, the only good thing that happened to the Royals in 2006 was documented on a baseball card that barely anybody got to see.
I don't know if a lot of current bloggers/collectors remember the infamous Alex Gordon incident of 2006, but Topps took Alex Gordon's rookie card, which was a pretty big deal, and gimmicked the hell out of it so that the odds of finding one were lower than the odds of the 2015 Phillies winning a game (without Aaron Nola on the mound). So Alex Gordon's REAL Topps rookie from 2006 was lost to time, and stupidity.
Yet at least Topps was right in basically nudging collectors and going "HEY! THIS GUY COULD BE PRETTY BIG!" Because once the Royals were able to build a team around Gordon, which happened a little after Mike Sweeney left in 2007, the team got so much better. I mean, yeah, they still had some years in last, which was bound to happen, but after a while they became a third place team, and then a wild card standout, and now...the #1 team in the AL.
It helps that Alex Gordon didn't make the mistake that Bryce Harper is making, which is that he's coming off way too strong at the beginning, so that once Harper has, you know, normal seasons, the fans are going to turn on him (wait for it, I guarantee it's comin'). Alex Gordon had a slow build, having some good seasons before eventually having great seasons, and spreading them out. Plus, even though he was really the centerpiece of the team, Gordon hasn't done all the work, letting Eric Hosmer, Kendrys Morales and Mike Moustakas do some major hitting this year.
Bottom line is that Alex Gordon is capable of carrying a team, even if he's not always the team's standout. He's more like an authority figure, or a role model, for everyone else. He's had some great seasons, and will have a few more, but he's gonna be known for turning this team into a huge-time success story, and that's a pretty big thing to be known for.
Coming Tomorrow- The Reds cleaned most of their pitching staff this July. which means they had room in the rotation for this fireballer, who's become the toast of their pitching.