The time for knee-jerk reactions to the Mitchell report has passed. Now it’s time to commence with the backbiting and fingerpointing. In this post, I think I want to bite a back. And it’s a pretty big back.
My personal approach to the announcement of Mitchell’s findings went something like this: I’ll probably find it entertaining, but at this point, the appearance of anyone’s name in the report shouldn’t surprise me.
I was right on both accounts. I was highly amused, seeing names of former players I hadn’t thought about in years as well as those of some guys whose personalities kind of rubbed me the wrong way (I’m not proud of this, but at least I’m being honest). And none of the names I saw surprised me in any way – until yesterday, when both the affidavits of Jason Grimsley and Kirk Radomski were unsealed.
Grimsley didn’t really reveal anything scandalous unless you used to think of Glenallen Hill as your personal savior. But there was a name in the Radomski affidavit that didn’t make it onto the Mitchell report.
It was El Sid.
The affidavit revealed that former Met Sid Fernandez had written Radomski a $3500 check in February of 2005. Problem is,El Sid last pitched in MLB in 1997, eight years previously.
Sid Fernandez was one of my favorite players growing up. When I was a wee lad, he looked like a mountain to me even on the television screen. He was listed as 6’1 and 230lbs (there’s no way that’s accurate; the guy was at least 250) and was always the kind of guy who was overshadowed, either by Doc Gooden’s arsenal of mid-90s heat and Sir Charles curveball, or by the ladies screaming for Ron Darling to give them a smile. He struck me as an everyman, and I always liked that about him.
He had a very solid career that lasted parts of 15 seasons. He never won more than 16 games and his girth made it difficult for him to stay healthy. But when he was good to go, he was a very dependable strikeout pitcher. During his peak years that lasted from 1985-1993, El Sid had a great 3.12 ERA to go along with a very good 8.4K/9IP and 2.47K/BB ratio (As a comparison, over the same period, Roger Clemens had a 2.85 ERA with 8.21K/9 and 2.54 K/BB).
But perhaps his greatest statistical accomplishment is the fact that over his entire career, the behemoth of a man only allowed 6.85 hits per nine innings pitched, which ranks fourth best in MLB history behind only Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, and Pedro Martinez. All in all, not a bad career by any stretch of the imagination. Despite this, in a move that served as a microcosm for how under-appreciated he was, he received a total of two votes in his only appearance on the Hall-of-Fame ballot back in 2003.
But what the hell made Fernandez seek out help from Radomski in 2005? This was 8 years after he last took the big league mound (He tried to make a comeback with the Yankees in 2001 but made one start in Columbus before retiring once more). I don’t have the answer to that one, I’m afraid. We don’t even know what that $3500 check paid for. Was El Sid trying to make another comeback at the age of 42? If not, was there something wrong with him physically that he sought Radomski’s help because his own personal doctor wouldn’t prescribe him with something that Radomski was offering? Did Kirk Radomski also sell Stacker 2, the world’s STRONGEST fat burner? Come on, Sid. You gotta tell us.