Tonight Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez will most likely break Carlton Fisk's record for major league games as a catcher, and he will do it in the ballpark where he made his name.
That got me thinking, "What does the Ranger fan think when they hear "Pudge," now that it's 2009?
There must be a sense of nostalgia, for sure. No player in franchise history has been more of a fan favorite, with the exception of maybe Nolan Ryan.
When we think of Pudge, we think of the three division titles in the late 90s.
That dominating lineup featuring Pudge, Raffy, Juan, and others...
An AL MVP Award and the perennial All Star appearances and Gold Gloves...
A pitching staff that could keep the opponents under 6 runs most nights (because the Rangers were sure to score more...)
Pudge left Texas after the 2002 season, signing a one-year deal with the Marlins. That turned out to be a pretty smart move, as Florida shocked the Yankees in the World Series, and Pudge provided plenty of memorable moments.
He left Florida for Detroit, and success followed Rodriguez. After joining the Tigers in 2004, Pudge again was part of a long playoff run that ended at the hands of the eventual world champion St. Louis Cardinals.
So now 7 years after he left Arlington, Pudge will defy the odds- and the former GM who said it was time to let him go (Doug Melvin) - and become the most tenured catcher in big league history.
While I'm glad for Pudge, I can't help but curb my enthusiasm. Rodriguez played with guys here that it later came out were steroid users (Palmeiro, Canseco). Pudge has never tested positive, but I, like I think many other baseball fans, have my suspicions.
And I hate that. Because while I want to hear Pudge and smile and reminisce, I can't help but be a little bit skeptical.