I did the American League the other day (background is in that post, too); today we will look at the National League.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Favorite: Russell Martin*
Why: There’s an asterisk there for a reason. Russell Martin is my favorite current Dodger, and one of my three favorite current players (along with Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez). I was in Dodger Stadium the day Martin made his Major League debut, and I have to admit that I was excited the day before when I saw Dioner Navarro injure his hand on TV, knowing it meant Martin would get the call. But I am a lifelong Dodger fan, and I have very fond memories of the 1988 World Championship team, including Orel Hershiser and his magical season. Well guess what? Orel in 1988 and Russell today are both represented by a Dodger jersey with the number 55 on back. And the 55 gives a minor shout out to Mike Marshall, my favorite player from my childhood and number 5 for the Dodgers.
Would I buy his jersey: Yep. Gimme a NNOB with number 55, and I am very happy.
San Diego Padres
Favorite: Shawn Abner
Why: When I was a teenager, our youth group from church went down to a Padres/Dodgers game in San Diego. Before the game, Shawn Abner was like the designated warm-up partner; he stood there for about a half-hour and played catch with just about every one of his Padres teammates. When he was done, he turned to me and tossed me the ball. The ball that every single Padre — even the good ones! — had just played catch with. He became my favorite Padre that day.
Would I buy his jersey: Probably. My only hesitation would be, like with the Bo Jackson White Sox jersey, that no one would know I was wearing a Shawn Abner jersey. They’d think my last name was Abner; or even worse, they might think my FIRST name was Abner (no offense, Mr. Doubleday).
San Francisco Giants
Favorite: Willie Mays or Mel Ott
Why: Having a favorite Giant is kind of like having a favorite venereal disease. As a Dodger fan, I just don’t like the Giants. (It’s not as intense as the way Giants fans feel about the Dodgers; the Giants could finish in 4th place, and as long as the Dodgers finished in 5th, Giants fans would be happy. It’s sad, really.) So my options are guys I loved on other teams who happened to play for the Giants (Brett Butler, Orel Hershiser, etc.) or go old school with Mays or Ott. I’d choose Mays or Ott because it wouldn’t have to be a San Francisco Giants jersey.
Would I buy his jersey: Yeah, I could go with a Mays or Ott jersey. Probably Ott, just because (as far as I know) he never godfathered Barry Bonds.
Favorite: Larry Walker
Why: He was a good player outside of Colorado. Every other Rockie I can think of either never got a chance to prove he was good elsewhere (Todd Helton), proved that he WASN’T any good elsewhere (Dante Bichette, Vinny Castilla, etc.), or wasn’t any good anywhere (98% of the players who have played for the Rockies). Walker had his best years with Colorado, but he did just fine with the Expos before and the Cardinals after. And I have a soft spot for Canadians, for some reason.
Would I buy his jersey: I don’t think so. I don’t like the Rockies, I don’t like the way their jerseys look, and I don’t like Walker enough to justify it.
Favorite: Roberto Alomar
Why: Sure, he only played 38 games and had 110 at-bats for the D-Backs. But I am a big Alomar fan, and I don’t like the Diamondbacks, so I don’t care a whole lot.
Would I buy his jersey: Probably not. I wouldn’t mind having an Alomar jersey, but the only way it would say D-Backs on it is if it completed the set.
Favorite: Ryne Sandberg
Why: I was a big fan of Sandberg when he was playing, and while his Hall of Fame induction speech rubbed me a bit the wrong way, I still love the guy.
Would I buy his jersey: Yep. I really like the Cubs home jerseys, and I would love to wear Sandberg’s number.
Favorite: Jeff Bagwell
Why: Maybe it’s his first name. Maybe it’s the number 5. Maybe it’s a lot of things. But I have always been a big Jeff Bagwell fan, ever since he kind of came out of nowhere to win the Rookie of the Year award. Nolan Ryan also entered the picture, and I kind of wouldn’t mind having Ryan jerseys from the Mets, Angels, Astros, and Rangers; but I remember Ryan more as a Ranger, and Bagwell teamed with Craig Biggio to define the Astros for the better part of my lifetime.
Would I buy his jersey: Heck yeah.
Favorite: Tom Seaver
Why: For my entire life that I remember, I have had a vague dislike for the Reds. They were the Dodgers’ big rivals back in the day, and I still believe that they didn’t play their hardest against the Braves late in the 1991 season, helping the Braves overcome the Dodgers’ lead and dress up as Cinderella. I don’t actively hate the Reds, but I have a big ol’ helping of I-don’t-give-a-crap that gives me no desire to pick a Reds player from my baseball-watching days. So I am going with Tom Seaver, whose pitching I always admired.
Would I buy his jersey: It’s a tough call, but probably. I don’t know how often I would wear it, though, since I don’t like the Reds and I don’t care a whole lot for the look of their jerseys. Why am I buying it again? Hmmmmm…
Favorite: Don Sutton
Why: It’s a tough call taking Sutton, who I liked a lot but more as a Dodger, and Robin Yount, who I liked less but I actually liked as a Brewer. I went with Sutton, although I also had to forget his time as a Braves announcer to do it.
Would I buy his jersey: Sure. I like the old 1980s Brewers jerseys, and I like Sutton.
St. Louis Cardinals
Favorite: Albert Pujols
Why: I like the Cardinals. Pujols is one of my favorite players. He’s number 5. It’s a no-brainer.
Would I buy his jersey: Absolutely.
Favorite: Roberto Clemente
Why: One of the first books I ever read was a little 150-page biography of Clemente, back when I was about eight or nine years old, and I developed an immediate respect and admiration for him as a player and a person. He’s right up there with Ripken and Gehrig on my list of favorite all-time players.
And speaking of Clemente and jerseys, I just gotta say how dumb I think Yankee fans are. LaTroy Hawkins wanted to wear number 21 to honor Clemente, but he met a huge backlash from Yankee fans because number 21 was Paul O’Neill’s number. Paul freaking O’Neill! Yes, he was a great Yankee, but not great enough to have his number retired (as evidenced by the fact that, you know, they haven’t retired it). Only Yankee fans could be so self-involved to think that Paul O’Neill is more important than a guy wanting to honor a great ballplayer and humanitarian like Roberto Clemente.
Would I buy his jersey: For sure. And it would be one of my prized possessions.
Favorite: Dale Murphy
Why: It would definitely have to be someone from before the Glavine/Smoltz era began, because I can’t stand front-runner Braves fans. And being a Mormon, Dale Murphy was always a bit of a role model for me. I don’t know if Murphy should be in the Hall of Fame or not, but I believe he was criminally overlooked for consideration.
Would I buy his jersey: Yes, as long as it was a pre-tomahawk jersey.
Favorite: Ivan Rodriguez
Why: The first postseason my wife and I watched together was in 2003, when the Marlins beat the Yankees in the World Series. When Pudge held on to the ball as J.T. Snow barreled over him at the plate, ending the decisive game of the NLDS, the Marlins became our team for that postseason. Whenever I see Pudge, it brings back wonderful memories of teaching my wife about the game of baseball and sharing my favorite sport with my favorite person (hey, something can be cheesy AND true). That’s a good enough reason for me.
Would I buy his jersey: Yeah. I don’t care a whole lot for the look of the Marlins’ uniforms, but it’s not too bad.
Washington Nationals / Montreal Expos
Favorite: Pedro Martinez
Why: Pedro Martinez as an Expo reminds me of a simpler time in life. I knew Pedro was going to be great (as great as his brother Ramon, for sure) since he was a rookie with the Dodgers, so his success in Montreal was a sweet thing for me (with just a bit of bitterness about him being yet another Dodger who went on to greatness somewhere else). Pedro’s last couple years with the Expos and first couple with the Red Sox were just amazing, and it all started in Montreal.
Would I buy his jersey: Yes if I could fudge on the years a bit and go with the pre-1992 jerseys. Otherwise, it would be a toss-up.
Favorite: Darren Daulton
Why: Lousy for eight seasons. Really good for two seasons. Injury-plagued for four seasons. Looked like Gaston from “Beauty and the Beast.” I have 247 of his baseball cards. What’s not to love?
Would I buy his jersey: Sure. I actually really dig the pinstripes with the blue stars dotting the “i”s.
New York Mets
Favorite: Sid Fernandez
Why: I like fat guys, even if they do throw with the wrong arm.
Would I buy his jersey: I’d have a hard time wearing a Mets jersey, for some reason. I don’t really dislike them (although I still hate their fans for cheering when Kirk Gibson tore up his knee sliding into second in the 1988 NLCS), but I always have a nagging negative feeling when I think of them. So no, probably not.