There’s some funny stuff in Scott Miller’s latest column for CBS Sports in which he writes about a recent conversation he had with the newly transplanted Jess Crain, now coming out of the White Sox bullpen after years in the Minnesota Twins’ organization.
Because of the rivalry, I never really knew anybody over here. We didn’t really talk before games. Usually, with every team you know a couple of guys. But not with these guys. The only guy I kind of knew was Mark Teahen, because I played on Team Canada with him.
I thought Paul Konerko was [a jerk], for some reason. And we all know about A.J. Pierzynski. I don’t even know why I thought that about Paulie. I never got to first base, of course, so I never talked to him there. I was always facing him, and I’d see him get mad when things didn’t go well at the plate. But this guy’s a ballplayer. He’s tough. He’s soft spoken. He’s the Captain. I think [learning that Konerko is not a jerk] has been my biggest shock. I haven’t even told him that yet.
I usually think that girls I don’t get to first base with are jerks too. Ba-zing!
Seriously though, I’m often guilty of lumping baseball players into categories based on their statistics and forgetting that they’re actual human beings. Starting a new job with an organization for whom you were a part of their main competition probably isn’t the easiest of transitions to make.
The biggest rival signing of recent memory was Johnny Damon moving from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees ahead of the 2006 season. In pinstripes, Damon hit more than double the home runs he hit the previous season with the Red Sox and was almost an entire win above replacement better. It would be an interesting, and likely meaningless, study to look at players going to divisional rivals and comparing their last season with one team to their first season with the other team. I wonder if Damon is an exception or a rule.