As I laid in bed a few nights ago I thought to myself that I should probably take a little hiatus from writing. Over the last couple months I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that my content is getting stale, that I’m just writing bullshit that only matters to me, and that I’m repeating the same things over and over again. I said it’s been a couple months but it’s probably been a good bit longer than that. Somewhere along the line I guess I just figured I would write myself out my rut.
That is usually how these things go, anyway. I’ll take a few weeks off, I’ll read a book or something, and then I’ll be inspired by whatever comes next. That hasn’t happened this time around; it hasn’t happened for a while. Even though I had the best intentions to take some time away from writing — likely in preparation for the NFL season in a couple months where I know I’ll be making picks every week — I wasn’t expecting for there to be a reason for me to come back as soon as right now:
My favorite baseball team, the Texas Rangers, traded away my favorite current player, Joey Gallo, to the New York Yankees for a bunch of prospects.
Almost eight years ago I wrote on this blog about how the Rangers traded my favorite player of all-time, Ian Kinsler. That came at in a different era of Rangers’ baseball, literally and symbolically. At that time Texas was still one of the best teams in baseball, having gone to back-to-back World Series’ in 2010 and 2011 and making the playoffs in 2012 and a play-in game in 2013. They were part of a collection of a handful of teams in MLB that were expected to compete for a championship every year.
Hard times have fallen on the Rangers over the last three or four years. They exhausted much of their farm system for playoff runs in 2015 and 2016, they made low-risk, high-upside signings like Mike Minor and Lance Lynn but failed to trade them when their values were at their highest. Most of their early draft picks didn’t pan out. And as a consequence the organization became bare both at the minor league level and by way of talent in the big leagues. It’s basically the worst possible combination a franchise can have.
Joey Gallo got drafted in the compensatory round in 2012, and the Rangers gave him an over-slot signing bonus so he wouldn’t go to college at LSU. Gallo rewarded them not only by inevitably making it to the big leagues, but by turning his loud tools — namely being the most powerful hitter in baseball, who also draws a ton of walks, who also plays well above-average defense — into a consistent threat on the diamond.
I have been a Gallo fan ever since he was drafted. In 2013 my best friend and I went to Surprise, Arizona to see the Rangers at Spring Training, back when Gallo was only 19 years old. At the time Texas was really good — and I was at the pinnacle of my fandom — and my best friend and I ended up meeting Joey in the batting cages off at the side of the stadium while the spring training game was going. He was in the cage with fellow single-A teammates Lewis Brinson, Nick Williams, Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman. All five of them ended up making the major leagues.
I was 23 at the time, and kind of drunk, and I called out to Joey Gallo to come over and sign my program. He did, and my best friend and I got to chop it up with him for a couple minutes before Joey went off to do whatever spring training bullshit the Rangers had in mind. My best friend, in a way that only he could do, told Gallo that “your bat looks kind of cracked, you should give it to us.” For a brief second Gallo gestured like he was going to lift it over the fence to give it to us, but he thought better of it and said “the equipment managers would throw a fit.” But we all got a pretty good pop out of it.
Joey Gallo has a highlight reel on YouTube that I’ll post at the top of this article, and you should watch it. The guy hits fucking dingers. Long dingers. He’s basically the equivalent of Happy Gilmore playing baseball. Over his brief career, that I didn’t get to appreciate nearly long enough because it happened to coincide at a time when both (a) my interest in baseball has dwindled and (b) it’s been the worst stretch of Rangers baseball in my lifetime, Joey Gallo absolutely asserted himself as a star.
It might not be the classic star that most people grew up loving. He is never going to bat .300; he is never going to play situational ball and make contact to advance a runner; he is never going to bunt a guy over or use a two-strike approach at the plate. Gallo’s game is very simple: He’s going to try to hit the fuck out the baseball. He’s going to do that with no strikes, with one strike, and with two strikes. And about a quarter of the time he is going to strike out.
But he’s also going to draw a lot of walks. He is going to play standout defense. And he’s going to bring the house down when he makes contact with the ball. Playing at Yankees Stadium, there will be multiple times when it appears that he pops the ball up to right field and it’s going to go for a home run. He wasn’t able to get away with that at the pitcher-friendly Rangers park. But when he’s playing at home in pin stripes, it’s going to happen.
I am very proud of what Joey Gallo has become. I am proud of the fact that when he got drafted I singled him out as being “my guy.” I knew immediately that he was going to be my ride-or-die Rangers prospect. He was the dude I wanted to say what’s up to in 2013 when my best friend and I went to Surprise, Arizona. And he was the one whose progress I followed at Low-A, at High-A, at Double-A, and at Triple-A. I was glued to my TV to watch his first big league game with the Rangers, and while the club he played for has stunk for the last few years I was always a Joey Gallo fan.
The real shame of it all is that Texas’s hand was basically forced to trade him. Even though Gallo expressed interest in being a Ranger for life, the organization is nowhere close to competing with or without him. In a weird way I thought — especially based on their recent track record — that the Rangers would be too stupid to make the necessary move. Gallo had to go, for his own benefit and for Texas’s.
So it’s my hope that, even in spite of the reality that he is playing for the New York fucking Yankees, Joey will get the opportunity to showcase his talents on the big stage. Like so many others before him, Ian Kinsler included, I dream of a day where Gallo gets to experience what it’s like to win a World Series. I won’t be rooting for the Yankees when that happens, but I most certainly will be cheering for Joey Gallo.