Wednesday, 7 September 2011

He made it

On a night where seemingly, not a single Blue Jay did anything worth a fuck, Dustin Mcgowan completed a 38 month long journey back to the big leagues.  Never mind the fact that the Jays lost 14-0, never mind the fact that Mcgowan entered the game long after it was out of hand, never mind the fact that he gave up 3 runs over 5 innings.  None of that matters in the least.

38 months-- that's a long time.  Want to know just how long that is?  The last day that Mcgowan pitched in the big leagues was July 8th, 2008.  That day, the lineup consisted of 8 guys who are no longer with the team (Adam Lind being the exception, and he was a rookie).  The pitchers that day where as follows: Jason Frasor (gone), Scott Downs (gone), BJ Ryan (gone), and the man who replaced Mcgowan when he came out of the game after 4 innings, Brian Tallet (gone, back, gone again).  Jose Bautista (the original) and Travis Snider made 80 and 61 plate appearances that year respectively, most, if not all, of which were after Mcgowan's injury.  Jesse Litsch and Shawn Camp (and technically, Jesse Carlson) are the only other players to be on the active roster at the same time as Mcgowan in both 2008 and 2011.

Last night was the first time Mcgowan has pitched since Barack Obama's inauguration.  Estelle Getty was still alive when Mcgowan last pitched in the bigs.  Remember the time Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals in one Olympics?  Yeah, Mcgowan last pitched before that.

Dustin Mcgowan, the 33rd overall selection in the 2000 amateur draft, possibly the worst draft class of all time, looked like he might join the likes of Luis Montanez, Billy Traber, Chris Bootcheck, and about 20 other guys taken in the first round of the 2000 draft, and go ahead and contribute little, if anything, to the team that chose them.  Beyond guys like Adrian Gonzalez (1st overall), Chase Utley (15th), Adam Wainwright (20th), and Kelly Johnson (38th), only Rocco Baldelli has produced 5 WAR or more over his career, and he, like many others from that draft, is now out of baseball.  This was thought to be the same fate that Mcgowan faced.

Mcgowan might never be the guy that he was projected to be: a power arm, and front-to-mid rotation guy.  Most people don't just miss 3 straight years of facing MLB caliber hitters and survive.  The typical pitcher will hit his prime right around Mcgowan's age (29), if not sooner.  The mere fact that he still has a chance at big league pitching is, to me, so incredible.  I'd like to think that I wouldn't have quit either if placed in his shoes, but I can't honestly say that.

Again, none of that matters.  Simply getting back to the big leagues, after 3 straight years of season ending surgeries, is a giant win in itself.  The mere fact that this man is able to throw a 96MPH fastball is baffling, especially when you consider two shoulder surgeries.

I don't even want to know how much work he put in to getting back over the last three years, because I'd probably cry.  I'm certain that the fact that he's a Blue Jay, and always has been, is a big part of why I feel the way I do about this story, but I'll be god damned if this isn't the best story in baseball this season.

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