Going Gonzo on the Beach

It is amazing what a difference a couple of years makes. Going into the 2006 season Luis Gonzalez was the longest tenured Arizona Diamondbacks player on the roster. He was one of the few players left from the 2001 World Championship team that defeated the New York Yankees. For all intents and purposes Gonzalez was the face of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was by far the most popular player in the history of the franchise. Many casual fans would have believed that Gonzalez would finish his career clad in the purple and teal of the Diamondbacks. They would have of course been wrong on two levels. First the team would bid farewell to their left field mainstay in what some thought was an unceremonious bon voyage where Gonzo was told over breakfast that his services would not be required past the end of the season. Secondly the Diamondbacks would break with the past and eliminate the purple and teal color scheme replacing it with Sedona Red, Sonoran Sand, and Black (notice that once a color reaches team association it rises to a capitalized format. That is something not even Crayola does so in that sense I think my treatment of color is more friendly than the crayon company).

Luis Gonzalez did not take the news well. In fact he seemed to be quite bitter about how the whole thing worked out. You have to give Gonzalez credit. He still felt as though he could play at the highest level of competition and wanted to go out and show the Diamondbacks that they had made a mistake. During the off-season Luis Gonzalez was not just looking for a team to pick him up, he was looking to play for someone in the National League Western Division just so that he could have as many opportunities as possible to stick it to his former team. Gonzo landed with the Los Angeles Dodgers making his wish come true. The early part of the 2007 season made Gonzalez look fairly prophetic. He was producing for the Dodgers and the Dodgers were winning while the Diamondbacks struggled offensively and looked to be a year or two away from competing. Slowly though the Diamondbacks young players began to get more comfortable with their surroundings and finding success as a team. The Dodgers on the other hand began to flounder and the clubhouse became a place to be avoided like a polka concert. As the season wound down the Dodgers went into a full tailspin ending up in fourth place in the division behind the Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, and San Diego Padres. The Diamondbacks on the other hand went on to almost overachieve making it to the National League Championship Series. By season end Luis Gonzalez saw his playing time significantly reduced as the Dodgers attempted to infuse youth into their line-up. The Dodgers like the Diamondbacks a year previously met with Luis Gonzalez and explained they were going to attempt to become younger and would no longer require his services. So for the second year in a row Luis Gonzalez began looking for work wanting to prove that his skills still warranted consideration as a starting outfielder.

Today a team came forward to give Luis Gonzalez an opportunity to prove his assertion. Gonzo signed a one-year contract with his hometown team. No not the Arizona Diamondbacks where Luis and his family still reside but the Florida Marlins. A team being built around young and cheap players is now giving this old veteran one more opportunity to try and help a ball club try and win some games. It will be interesting to see what kind of impact Gonzalez will have especially in the National League Eastern Division that has suddenly become a pitching haven. I wish the best of luck to Gonzo in every game except the six against the Diamondbacks.

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