Major League Baseball is a business; everyone knows that.
However, I think there are other fans out there who would like to think that, sometimes, players actually see the jersey they wear every day as more than a meal ticket.
I am a Dodgers fan. I have been since my dad took me to Chavez Ravine many years ago when I was barely able to walk. I bleed Dodger blue. I curse the Dodgers when they choke, but I never abandon them for a perpetual winner like the New York Yankees.
“I am what I am and that’s all that I am,” as Popeye might have said. I’m a big softie, but I’m also not foolish enough to think that Juan Uribe gets goose bumps when he slips on that beautiful blue and white Dodgers jersey. After all, Uribe went from leading the San Francisco Midgets to a World Series to 21 million reasons to come to Los Angeles.
Wouldn’t it be cool, though, to know that a guy who plays for our Dodgers is one of us? Wouldn’t it be a real kick in the pants to see a Dodger player living a dream that those of us writing and reading this column will never realize – wearing the cursive “Dodgers” on a uniform and playing for the team?
Well, sit back and enjoy, Dodger fans, because it just might become a reality in the very near future!
Will Savage was born and raised less than 20 miles from Los Angeles in West Hills. His father was a Dodgers fan. Will was a Dodgers fan. And guess what? He is on the fast track to actually pitching on the mound in the stadium where he used to watch his heroes in Dodger blue.
The 6-foot-4 Savage might just be the next double-AA pitcher who ends up with the Dodgers. Savage has posted a 12-4 record with double-AA Chattanooga this season with a 3.56 ERA.
And you know what’s almost as good as Savage being a lifelong Dodgers fan? He was released by the Philadelphia Phillies! We might have a “homer” pitching for us and we might be able to stick it in the Phillies’ faces … sweet!
The past two seasons at double-AA, Savage has won 22 games and has only lost nine. However, possibly even more impressive than that is the fact that Savage has only walked 50 batters in his last 273.1 innings. That’s the kind of control that we need on the mound for the Dodgers.
If you are envisioning a fireball pitcher in Savage, though, you had better think again. He may be tall, but he’ll never be mistaken for the Big Unit. Savage is more Greg Maddux than Randy Johnson, but I’ll take a pitcher over a thrower (see Jonathan Broxton for reference).
How did a lifelong Dodgers fan with the kind of stuff Savage possesses end up being dismissed by the Phillies and landing in our lap? You can thank a former Dodger – Tommy John – for that.
Savage was climbing the Philadelphia minor-league ladder until a fateful day in 2008. He was pitching in Altoona, Pennsylvania, for the Phillies’ double-AA team in temperatures that were below freezing. The next thing Savage knew, his elbow hurt.
One torn ulnar collateral ligament later, Savage was facing Tommy John surgery. However, he decided against surgery and wanted to rest and rehabilitate his elbow. The Phillies doubted Savage’s decision, and he was released.
It was on to independent ball for Savage after no MLB team would take a chance on him. In the American Association for the Wichita Wingnuts, Savage pitched the second no-hitter in league history in 2009.
The Dodgers liked what they saw, and signed him to a contract in February of 2010. How did Savage feel about that? He told his former college website: “It’s always been my dream to be a Dodger. I’ve been bleeding Dodger blue since I was born, so I’m extremely excited about the opportunity.”
I, for one, can’t wait to see Savage bleeding Dodger blue all over the mound in his first start at Chavez Ravine. How much fun will that be?