AYYYYY!!!!!!!! A farewell to Fonzie

It will always remain one of the most riveting images in baseball I’ve ever witnessed. Before every Yankee game, Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano would warm up by playing catch. They’d start out about 75 feet apart. Then Jeter would take a step back. Then Soriano would take a step back. Then another. Then another. Then another. And Soriano wouldn’t stop until he reached the right field warning track and Jeter was in front of the home plate entrance of the Yankee dugout. And they threw peas! Right into the glove.  Watching Soriano make those throws, I didn’t think there was anything he couldn’t do.

Alfonso Soriano was traded today. He’s going back to the New York Yankees. His Cub career was certainly a mixed bag. But it ended on one of his notorious “streaks”. And I’m glad he did. In fact, this past year and a half has been a blessing for Soriano and Soriano fans. This year saw the hard work, the passion, and the smile and joy that he brought to the ballpark EVERY. DAY. Regardless of win, loss, personal triumph or suckitude. Soriano was back at it the next day as if he was a rookie.

That wasn’t always the perception. Signed to a deal almost no one could live up to; expectations were set at an all time high. Sori was coming off a 40-40 season and even though that was never accomplished before that’s what expectations were. Injuries took his best asset- that being speed- right away. Soriano’s peaks came with cringe worthy valleys. And a couple of those valleys happened in October. And when you make the money Soriano makes, you can’t have those valleys happen in October with out some backlash.

And boy did it come.  Every “hop”, every failed run out of the batter’s box, every missed curve, left a lot of Cub fans howling.  But, unlike Jacques jones or LaTroy Hawkins, Soriano didn’t let the booing affect him. He didn’t let anything affect him. Even the fact that his knees were practically Cracker Jack. That might be the most lasting image I have of Sori as a Cub- running on bone-on-bone knees to get a ball hit down the left field line.

Alfonso Soriano’s career mirrored the manager he played under. Thrived under hall of famers Torre, Showalter, and Robinson. Played really well the first two years when Pinella was awake. Faded as Pinella did. Totally tuned out when Quade took over the reigns. And worked his butt off when Sveum (and most importantly Dave McKay, who worked with him everyday to make him a better outfielder.) took over in ‘12

In 2001, Alfonso Soriano was by far my favorite baseball player. There was nothing he couldn’t do. Probably would have won MVP if Giambi weren’t on his team splitting votes with him. We didn’t really get to see that Soriano. We saw an older one. A more injured one. One that matured, adapted, and learned to rely less on talent and more on effort. And that was cool to see to.

Thanks for the six and a half years Fonzie. I can’t think of a better way to see you put a nightcap on your career then going out before a game with Derek Jeter and playing catch. And taking a step back. Then another. Then another. And another….l


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Tags: Alfonso Soriano


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  • When he was at the top of his games he was one of the best.
    Let's hope his career ends well.

  • Amen Felzz.... Well said.

    It's definitely a mixed bag for Sori. The lasting image I have, that my brain keeps defaulting to, is his infectious smile. The last year a half, we have witness Sori reinvent himself of sorts. He was always smiling, like a kid. Baseball was fun again, like it supposed to be. And he ditched the hop, and played the game like it's supposed to be played.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Also well said. Fonzie has become one of my favorite all-time Cubs. My family & I went and saw him in Atlanta earlier this year & got some great shots of him turning around & acknowledging/smiling/waving to us. He became a family favorite that day. I will pull for the Yankees this year because of him. I had a similar experience with Sammy years ago & will always love him because of it. Some guys just get it. It's a game & should be about the kids/families.

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    In reply to Andrue Weber:

    I had the same experience with him at Wrigley. Instead of ignoring fans, he would make eye contact, smile & acknowledge them in some way. He just seems like a genuinely nice person.

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    Well said, you almost brought a tear to my eye with that one. He strikes me as and great person, and I don't think I ever saw a better athlete in his prime. The baseball skills were there as well. Had he done some things differently in his approach and had he not been so injured with the Cubs, we'd be talking about him going to Cooperstown.

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    Best article ever.

  • Players like Sori, Sosa and even Durham had some good years
    with the Cubs and we should remember that.

  • I loved watching Sori for the same reason I loved watching Shawon Dunston -- you never knew when they were going to do something that would make you drop your jaw with amazement.

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    Man he was an exciting player before the Cubs signed him. He was a lot of fun to watch run the bases. Then he hurt his legs and lost his speed. Typical Cubs luck. I'll miss him, but more importantly I think the Cubs young players are going to miss him. I don't think it would be that smart to deal away DeJesus now, they need some veteran leadership.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I had just moved to the DC area the year before Soriano got signed by the then woeful Nats,..... he was just about the only bright spot in that otherwise dismal season for the Nats.

    He was AWESOME that year,.... and while I was very glad my Home-Town Cubs signed the man,.... I never thought that the contract itsefl was a good idea. Hindsight 20:20 and all,....

    Never got to see him play live in a game as I haven't been to a ML game since 1993 (at Wrigley) - but I wish him well in NYC.

  • Thanks, Felzz. Sweet portrait, sweet writing.

  • Thank you Boys...

    I've been getting some grief that my appreciation for Soriano means I didn't like the trade. Which is just silly. It was time to move on ( time to get going...) and Epstoyer needed to open up left field for someone else. ( part of me was hoping not having to play third would unlock the hitting gene in Josh Vitters. But apparently it just un locked his hamstrings.....Stay healthy dammit.) But Sori deserves some affection. 181 home runs as a Cub. That's pretty impressive. But judging from what I've been reading, he won over a lot of Cub fans in the past year and a half. That's good to see.

  • The Cubs will miss Soriano' s right side power and his smile. It will tough to find either. Especially in one package.

  • Great piece, Felzz.

  • To remain coachable as a veteran player is almost unheard of these days. Soriano was a class person on and off the field. His ever present smile is what I'll remember most.

  • In reply to Sheboygan Frank:

    People are acting like he died. You'll still see his ever present smile, he'll just be in Yankee pinstripes.

  • Soriano carried himself the way a major league ballplayer should. He never hid from the media and he took the boos in stride. He was a class act all the way around and I'm sorry to see him go.

    I don't particularly like the trade. You lose not only his production but your losing someone who could've served as a mentor to Junior Lake. To me that alone is worth the 17+ million the Cubs shipped off to NY along with Alfonso. He was brought up through the minors and into the majors by an organization that was a dynasty. He learned how to be a big league player from some of the best, classiest guys around.

    I wish him well and will root for him and the Yankees, unless A-Fraud comes back...

  • I am not in the love of Soriano camp.

    A mistake signing from the day the ink dry on his contract. He will never get into my most revered Cubs book.

    Just a fundamentally unsound baseball player, who may have worked hard, but never struck me as a player that furthered the mission of winning baseball for a sustained period of time.

    Glas he is gone and ready to turn the page quickly.

    No regrets.

  • From the Iowa Cubs site:

    Just prior to last night's game, the Chicago Cubs traded RHP Guillermo Moscoso to the San Francisco Giants.

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    In reply to Eldrad:

    Will be interesting who they get, especially if Moscoso is directly shuttled into the Giants' starting rotation.

  • In reply to Cubs 27:

    ptbn or cash. and he will be in SF Saturday apparently

  • Great article Felzz! I'd love to see him working at our complex in the Dominican when he finally does hang up the spikes.

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    Moscoso traded to SF.

  • Good luck Fonzie! I'll always remember the awesome power he could generate just through wrist torque. Still reminds me of how Ernie Banks swung a bit. All wrists and hands. When it's all said and done, Alfonso was a big reason the Cubs made the playoffs for two years.

  • Great article Felzz, I have been disappointed that Soriano didn't perform better but glad to see him keep his professionalism during some very ugly spots.

  • Wow, really good write-up Felzz. You summed it up perfectly.

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