Saturday, October 22, 2011

You Thieving Bastards!

Kiko B. Real - Cobb Times Herald

Steals, swipes, SB's, whatever you want to call them there are few players in Cobb world history who have been able to steal a base with regularity.  To date, there are only 5 members of the 800 club, all elite base stealing artists who have used the fine art of theft to record their place in history.  In honor of Charlie Erving's eventual move into the top spot this season, today we are profiling the five top base swipers in Cobb history.

5. Marc Reagan - 800 Stolen Bases

Marc Reagan
Age: 37B/T: L/L
Born: Middle Island, NY
Position(s): CF/CIF/2B/OF/DH
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Bugs Moran
When asked which famous thief he most identified himself with, Reagan chose the notorious 1920's gangster Bugs Moran.  "Of course Bugs Moran is my thieving idol," he said, "for crying out loud, Bugs was the inventor of the drive-by, I mean, can you think of any more allegorical term for base swiping?   He was the inspiration behind my trademarked machine gun spray celebration every time I stole a base.  And it is a testament to my tommy gun and base stealing abilities that I never ran out of bullets." 

Reagan spent the bulk of his career with the Jackson Pollocks, and stole a career best 87 bases in season 10.  He was never an all star at the ML level, but was a notorious clubhouse prankster, and a great teammate by all accounts.  "I remember the time he put itching powder all over Woody Oleruds bed (a notorious neat freak at the time) and told him that it was probably bedbugs.  That was a riot!," reminisced former Pollocks SP Tori Person.

4. Alfredo Cruz - 801 Stolen Bases

Alfredo Cruz
Age: 35B/T: L/L
Born: Mineral, VA
Position(s): LF/DH
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Al Capone
Cruz had a very quick answer when describing his favorite thief of all time.  "Al Capone, because he gunned down Bugs Moran," Cruz explained, "You see, I never liked Marc Reagan, especially that stupid tommy gun business.  There is no place for that on the baseball field.  I vowed I wouldn't retire until I was insurmountable in my stolen base total, and once I reached my goal of 801 steals, I did it.  Now he will always be looking up at me in the rankings." 

The mercurial Cruz, who spent only 7 seasons in the major leagues, is also the single season base stealing leader, posting 211 stolen bases in season 8, a number that will likely never be topped.  "He was kind of a jerk, but man could he run," remembered SP Ralph Hill of his days in Scranton with Cruz.  "I think he was kind of offended by players like Marc Reagan showing off and thinking they were all that, when he was busy doubling their stolen base totals."  Cruz ultimately tired of playing baseball after being played at 1B for several seasons and then being demoted to the minors for "not posting a high enough OPS" by what he called the "idiot Bill James Moneyball Bastards" in the front office of the Philadelphia franchise at the time.

3. Al Rosario - 842 Stolen Bases (Active)

Al Rosario
Age: 34B/T: L/L
Born: Millers Creek, NC
Position(s): RF/1B/LF/DH
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Robin Hood
Rosario likes to compare himself to Robin Hood when it comes to thieves.  "I really like him because not only did he steal for good and all that stuff, but he was more than just a thief.  He was a ladies man with Maid Marian, could shoot a mean longbow, and used to be a knight under King Richard.  I would like to think of myself as a baseball version of that, I can do many things on the field, not just steal bases."

Indeed, Rosario is more than just a base stealing threat, having popped nearly 300 HR's in his career, is a 4 time all star, World Series Champion, and former Silver Slugger RF. His top basestealing year though came in Iowa City during season 14 when he pilfered 93 bases for the Corn Dogs.  He is still plying his trade for the Pawtucket G-Maniacs, and while his speed has slowed down, (only 50 SB's last season) he is still a very productive bat and veteran presence in the G's lineup. 

2. Charlie Erving - 881 Stolen Bases (Active)

Charlie Erving
San Francisco
Age: 33B/T: R/R
Born: Hatch, NM
Position(s): 2B/CIF/OF/DH
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Kaiser Söze
Erving is primed and ready to take over the top spot in Cobb all time stolen bases, needing only 7 more to reach that lofty height.  He compares himself to Kaiser Söze, saying, "You never know I have stolen a base until you look over to 1st and see that I am already gone."  Indeed, Erving is the best base stealer to date in Cobb, and still has several years of good baseball left in him.  "It is my goal to steal 1000 bases, and become the first player in Cobb history to reach that mark," Erving also remarked.

His Earthquake teammates describe Erving as a humble and quiet fellow, but fiercely driven.  "I came up through the system with him at the same time, and if it weren't for the fact that you could see him you would never know he is standing there," said teammate Andres Tatis of Erving, "He's a pretty complex fellow though, he watches foreign films and stuff like that, and even reads the Guardian.  I mean, what other baseball player do you know that reads a British newspaper?"  The multiple all star and silver slugger might not let you know it, but he certainly respects the milestone he is about the reach, and the man who currently owns it.

1. Emmanuel Castillo - 888 Stolen Bases

Emmanuel Castillo
Age: 37B/T: R/R
Born: Bani, DO
Position(s): LF/1B/DH
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Pancho Villa
When it comes to base stealing threats, there has been nobody in Cobb like Hall of Famer Emmanuel Castillo.  One of the greatest leadoff men to play the game, Castillo compared himself to Pancho Villa, the Mexican revolutionary general.  "I would like to think of myself as a great man, such as Villa, a hero to his people, who fought for what was right, and was a noble thief.  I stole the bases for the good of my team, but would do whatever it took to win, that was my role, just as Villa," said Castillo. 

Indeed, Castillo may soon be surpassed by Erving at the top of the list, but it will take some doing for Erving to surpass Castillo as a leadoff man and historical threat.  In addition to his stolen bases (4 seasons with 100 or more), Castillo scored 1,639 runs, was a 4 time all star, and a World Champion.  "Emmanuel was a class act," said former Corn Cleat teammate Ben Harris, "and as good a player to play the game as there was.  Having him and Marino Sierra at the top of the order was something to see, it was like watching two cheetahs flying around out there on the bases!" 

When asked about Eving breaking his record, Castillo was contemplative, "It will be hard to lose my place at the top, but time passes and the game changes, and it was bound to happen eventually.  Really though I am just glad it wasn't Marc Reagan, that tommy gun business was bush league, and Erving is a class act."

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