Let me get this out of the way. I hate camouflage uniforms.
I’ve been saying I hate camouflage uniforms for a while. It has nothing to do with a lack of respect for the military. In fact it is BECAUSE of my respect of the military that makes me dislike camouflage uniforms.
Serving our country is more than wearing a costume. And having a ballplayer wear a REALLY ugly uniform to me isn’t a tribute. It is just an eye sore.
Done millions to Wounded Warriors. Give tickets away to these heroes. Hell, I can’t stop crying every time I see one of those ads where the kid of a soldier throws out the first pitch without knowing their father or mother is behind the plate wearing a catchers mask and then the kid hugs them.
I am crying typing that.
But these uniforms are awful. I would rather they are dressed in big American flags than this.
However, I will make the exception with the Padres. I didn’t always have that stance. In 2010, I singled out the Padres and wanted them to throw out the camo unis. Points of view can evolve. I’ve seen the Reds, Mets, Pirates and other teams wear the camo and MAN it looks awful.
Because the Padres have such a connection with the military that I will give them a pass. That is my compromise. If there HAS to be camos, the Padres get to do it. Everyone else, donate. OK?
Now on to Joaquin Benoit.
Unlike most players in this series, Benoit is still an active player. As of this writing he is a Philadelphia Phillies pitcher. But because he is a veteran reliever for a last place team, it is safe to predict he will be sent packing to some contending team.
Benoit has already pitched for 15 plus seasons in the majors. The first seven seasons (plus a game in another year) he was with the Rangers. After 3 years of plus 5 ERAs as a starter, he was shifted to the bullpen and found some success. He would strikeout more than one an inning and in 2007 won 7 games with an ERA of 2.85.
He no longer started and seldom closed. He was a classic middle man during those years where the Rangers were good enough to have a winning record but not better than the A’s nor Angels for the Division Title.
After missing the 2009 season with a surgery, he landed with the 2010 Rays in time for them to win their second Division Title in 3 yeears. He posted a 1.34 ERA while striking out 75 in 60 1/3 innings. He won a game out of the bullpen in the Division Series but the Rays fell in the playoffs to his old team, the Rangers.
He joined the Tigers for the 2011 season and helped the Tigers win back to back Divisions and pitched in the 2012 World Series.
In 2013, Benoit was inserted into the closer role as Jose Valverde could no longer do the job. With bullpen issues derailing their 2012 World Series hopes, the Tigers needed a reliable anchor to the pen. Benoit was up for the task, saving 24 and seeing his ERA kept to a solid 2.01. He struck out 73 in 67 and saved 2 games in the Division Series including the clincher in Oakland.
Now armed with a reliable closer and their superstar lineup, the Tigers went into the 2013 ALCS against Boston with images of back to back pennants dancing in their heads.
In Game 1, Benoit looked to pitch his way into history. He was going to close out the 1-0 game which was a combined no hitter in the 9th. He did let up a hit but locked down the game and the save.
In Game 2, the Tigers ran up a 5-1 lead but the middle relief could not do their job. Benoit was pushed into service for a 4 out save, facing David Ortiz. And as we all remember, Ortiz hit his pitch into the bullpen, Torii Hunter flipped over, the cop jumped up and down and the Red Sox had tied the game with a grand slam.
Had the Tigers held onto that lead and went 2-0 into Detroit with Verlander rested and ready, chances are Detroit wins the pennant.
Instead Benoit was placed as another name in the Tigers bullpen woes narrative.
He pitched two solid years for the Padres in 2014 and 2015 before moving to the Mariners and Blue Jays in 2016. He wore camo in San Diego, which I will grind my teeth and be find with.
He is in Philadelphia now. By the time I publish this, who knows where he will be.
I hope he won’t wear camo again.