My Thoughts On Pudge

I’ll come out and say it: I wasn’t always a Texas Rangers fan. But ever since I can recall playing baseball in the cool springs and hot summers in Montreal, I was a fan of Ivan Rodriguez. I used to play catcher and I loved to throw. Runner on first? I tried to pick him off. Want to steal? Go ahead. While I was doing this in little league, there was the first catcher I ever saw that showed me doing that was OK. That guy was Ivan Rodriguez.

Sep 13, 2009; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez (7) during the game against the Seattle Mariners at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Sure Mike Piazza had the accolades and the homeruns, but there was only one catcher that had it all and he will retire a Texas Ranger on Monday.

I admittedly don’t have the same connection to him as Rangers fans did. Up until a few years ago, Rodriguez was part of some of the best times in Rangers history. I didn’t care about those. I only cared about the guy they called Pudge. Because that’s what they called me. That’s what I wanted to be called.

I’m not going to sit here and write how it would feel to watch Pudge retire a Ranger. I don’t know. I don’t have the connection to the team that so many of you do. I can’t say what he meant to the organization. I have no different emotional connection to Pudge the Ranger as I do to Pudge the Marlin or Pudge the National.

But he was probably the only player I ever tried to emulate. I mean, when you’re a pitcher you pretend to be like Hideo Nomo or Dontrelle Willis with the weird windup and fool around. As a batter it was Tony Batista’s stance. But as a catcher, there was only Pudge. And that is what I will remember him for as a player.

(On a side note, I imagine there are several catchers who block the ball lazily to emulate Miguel Olivo.)

I do appreciate what a player can mean to a team, though. Gary Carter had with the Montreal Expos. He came back on a one-year contract in 1992 before retiring. Rodriguez has the same idea coming back with a one-day contract. They have a few similarities. Both were beloved by their fanbases. Both were good catchers who could hit a ton. And while Carter is already enshrined in Cooperstown, Pudge will have his day as well.

Topics: Ivan Rodriguez, Texas Rangers

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