Saturday, August 7, 2010

Oh, Russ. What have you gotten yourself into this time?

I was debating putting this on my Dodgers blog but since it is a bit more...personal, I suppose, I decided to put it here.

This is the point where I reach sadness. Russell Martin, this used-to-be All-Star was one of the most loved players of the Dodgers and I might dare to say in the whole MLB. Well, it’s not hard to see how he’s changed over the years: basking too much in the Hollywood light - enough to become a crispy carrot orange. But you know, us fans of Russell thought that maybe he’d bounce back. Maybe he’d start being like the guy who once stole our hearts with his grace behind the plate, smart swings, and an unconditional love for the people who meant most to him in life - his mother and father. We thought that he was the foundation and future of the Dodgers just a few years ago, and now it’s likely that this career which had started off so bright and so full of promise could end with such a painful blow.

On Tuesday, August 3, 2010, Russell Martin suffered a season-ending injury to the labrum in his right hip. But who knew that just beyond this, might be the end of the Russell Martin Dodger Era? He had begun to go downhill in 2008 but even with that fact, he was still one of the best catchers in baseball, which brought enough confidence to the organization to trade their top catching prospect, Carlos Santana, to the Cleveland Indians, which brought the Dodgers 3rd baseman Casey Blake. Seems like that was one of the Dodgers’ biggest mistakes, but maybe back then, they didn’t think so because teammates, coaches, and fans alike all wanted to believe in Russell.

It’s safe to say that Russell Martin isn’t the player he used to be. His most recent seasons have come to be his worst, and it seems to be going downhill from there.

It is truly sad to have to see him go down like this because all-in-all, everyone wanted the best for him. Even now, I still want to believe in him. I want him to do better. I have been rooting for him all year long, but this season, he had only five homers and 26 RBIs in 97 games at the time of Tuesday’s injury. That’s pretty terrible and can definitely be what causes the Dodgers Organization to reach the breaking point and finally deem keeping the catcher around a lost cause. According to the L.A. Times, “With Martin expected to make at least $6 million next season in arbitration, the Dodgers could reasonably decide that he is no longer worth the investment, and the departure could be permanent.”

Russell Martin has gone down as one of the most used catchers in baseball in the past four years. Even when there was bad pitching and when back-up catcher, veteran Brad Ausmus, came in, he refused to stop playing. This includes Tuesday night, the night of his season-ending injury, when he stayed in to catch for five more innings until Hong-Chih Kuo was set to take place on the mound where Martin would leave the game confessing, “I can’t move enough to block his slider.”

“If that was Russell Martin’s last act as a Dodger, it was a noble and fitting one. He played until it hurt, hobbled away quietly, and played no more.” (L.A. Times) And I couldn’t have said it better myself.

It is quite painful, not only for Martin and the team, but for those of us who have only wanted for Russell to do well. It still feels like just yesterday when Russell Martin became that All-Star - that amazing ball player and person - that I grew to admire. For it to end so abruptly, and on a bad note, is so heartbreaking.

“‘I’m still part of this team, man,” he said, as if to remind us he was still Russell Martin. But then he sighed, paused, and his pained words confirmed that he’s no longer that Russell Martin. ‘I don’t know,” he said. ‘It’s going to be tough, man.’ Tough as in, this may finally be one plate that the Dodgers’ endearing catcher cannot block. Martin’s body may have betrayed him for the last time in blue…” (L.A. Times)

1 comment:

  1. I was a huge Russell Martin fan. He's from the same area of Ontario, Canada my mother is from. The guy's got grit. But he's been regressing for the last three seasons, so it ws getting harder and harder to cheer for him. It's sad, but I doubt we'll see him in Dodger blue again.

    Do you have Russell's bobblehead?