Friday, June 8, 2012

Hey, Wha Happened? The Fall of the 4th Greatest Jewish Pitcher of All Time

In the famous words of the great Fred Willard (A Mighty Wind), “Hey, Wha Happened?” That’s what Minnesota Twins fans have to be thinking about Jason Marquis’ 2012 stint in Minnesota.


In 1991 Marquis was one of those kids destined to play in the Major Leagues. His first appearance came on ESPN came during the Little League World Series. While losing in the U.S. Final game, Marquis’ team did finish third beating Canada behind his no-hitter. It wasn’t only his little league experience that made those around him realize baseball was in his future, Marquis’ Bar Mitzvah even had a baseball theme.
Flash-forward nine years and Marquis had finally broken into the Major Leagues in 2000 with the Atlanta Braves. Marquis came up for the minors to replace, who else, Rockin’ John Rocker. In 2001 Marquis became a starter for a rotation that featured both future Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. In 2003, Marquis headlined a deal that sent him to the St. Louis Cardinals. There he became a full-time starter and went 15-7 with a 3.71 ERA for the National League Champs. This early success made Jews everywhere excited and made Marquis a sought after free agent. His next five seasons he posted double digit wins for the Cardinals, Cubs, and Rockies. He also had no less than nine losses in those seasons as well, which means he was good (not great), but durable.
After his 2009 All Star campaign with the Colorado Rockies, he signed a 2-year $15 million dollar contract with the Washington Nationals. This was one of the first big moves the Nationals made to bolster their rotation. Marquis was coming off his second 15 win season and was expected to be a top of the rotation pitcher. But injuries plagued his time in Washington which was disappointing, although he put up some solid stats in 2011 right before he was traded to the Diamondbacks. After three starts with the Diamondbacks, Marquis’ season was over due to a broken fibula.
So in 2012 Marquis was looking to start over. He signed with the Minnesota Twins (his first stint in the American League) figuring to fit in nicely into their rotation and be the veteran on a young and somewhat depleted pitching staff.
But after seven starts Marquis performed so poorly that he was designated for assignment and then released. Luckily, as of May 29th Marquis was picked up by the San Diego Padres and will first pitch in Double A to try to figure things out.
Marquis is the best Jewish pitcher since the Steve Stone and Ken Holtzman days. That does not say too much because Jews have lacked starting pitching throughout time outside of Stone, Holtzman, and that pitcher from the Dodgers…oh yeah, Sandy Koufax. Marquis gave us hope.
While he has been challenged by the Jewish media for pitching in meaningless games falling on Yom Kippur, Marquis is Jewish and Jews liked being able to claim him as a MOT. We hope Marquis can figure it out in a Padres uniform. If not let’s hope we don’t wait another 20 years for a consistent Jewish starting pitcher.
And Let Us Say…Amen.
(Article originally ran on TCJewFolk.com. Check it out HERE)

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