*Author’s note: this was supposed to be about Jonathan Aro and, subsequently, a lovely retrospective on the Carson Smith/Roenis Elias/Wade Miley/Aro trade. Yet Jerry cares little about preparedness, or lovely retrospective odes to Cuban curveballers, so y’all get Tuffy. I’m sorry too.
Once upon a time, on August 17, 1983, to be precise, a baby was born. His parents named him James Benjamin Gosewisch; two names that were good enough for former United States presidents but evidently not adequate for Jim Gosewisch, who saw fit to nickname the so-called six-month-old terror Tuffy. Apparently this yen for unrelated nicknames was genetic, because when Tuffy joined Twitter he selected the coveted @santiagosewisch handle.
All snark aside, I’m rooting for Tuffy. His best season by fWAR was 2014, wherein he was worth precisely 0 fWAR, and for 2017 Fangraphs projects a slightly higher (0.1) value derived from 32 anticipated plate appearances. There’s no way he tops 50 PAs with the major league club; he’s never going to be a big contributor for the Seattle Mariners, and he very well may never be a major contributor for any MLB team. Yet his career is anthemic to the journey of 99.9% of the 0.1% who are selected in the MLB draft; a first round draft selection is no guarantee of success and Kyle Seager is the exception, not the rule. Gosewisch spent eight seasons in the minors, first as a low-level Phillies prospect, later as a Diamondbacks farmhand, and it was in Arizona that he finally made his MLB debut. He has never played more than 41 games in a season in the bigs and, as he begins his age 33 season, he likely may never play more than that. Relative to Justin Upton, Troy Tulowitzki, and Andrew McCutchen he is a failure. Relative to the hundreds of others drafted in 2005, he is a success. He’s seen his goofy name on the lineup card for a major league team. He’s hit a home run in a major league stadium.
It would have been so easy to brush off this 40 in 40. I had grand plans for 300 word children’s short story about Gosewisch’s life, based off the fact his name is reminiscent of the young bully in The Berenstain Bears. Yet as I read about the once 5’5” high school shortstop, returning for his number retirement at Phoenix Horizon High School as a community legend, I couldn’t bring myself to snark through another piece about a backup catcher. We face enough negativity in our day-to-day lives, there’s no need to pile that on here; we’re Mariners fans, after all. Sports are supposed to be our escape from the frustrations of the real world, and Gosewisch is the perfect example of a shift in perspective changing a collective outlook.
So lift your coffee, tea, water, or alternative morning beverage of choice, to Tuffy Gosewisch. Let us appreciate his journey, and the journey of many, and also let us hope that he and his career .087 ISO/36 wRC+ do not appear on the 2017 Seattle Mariners.