Thursday, November 16, 2006

An Alternate Universe

It was reported today from multiple sources that Frank Thomas, coming off a monstrous year DHing for the Oakland A's, is close to signing a two-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. It was weird enough seeing the Big Hurt suiting up in something other than a Chicago White Sox uniform this past season, but it'll be even more strange to see him wearing Blue Jays colors.

Remember that Seinfeld episode where Elaine makes friends with Bizarro Jerry, George, and Kramer and how disarming that was for everyone in the episode? It's kind of like that for me when I see a great athlete who has been a mainstay with one team for his whole career suddenly jump ship for what is usually a forgettable final couple of years before retirement.

In that vein, here are some of pro sports' most famous examples of legends who seeemed to be misplaced in their new duds:
Joe Namath and Johnny Unitas both were part of one of the most important games in NFL history, Super Bowl III, but later ignominiously played some unceremonious games for West Coast teams, Namath for the Los Angeles Rams, and Unitas with the San Diego Chargers.

Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing were rivals from their college days on through to their matchup in the pivot during the 1994 NBA Finals. By the time each of them had migrated north, there were clearly no more Finals appearances in the offing.

Montana to Rice is probably the greatest quarterback to wide receiver combination of all time. But it was that way when they were winning champinships with the 49ers. These two accounted for 4 Super Bowl MVP trophies betwen them in the '80's, none in their post-San Francisco careers.

Presenting your newest "Dancing with the Stars" champion, Emmitt Smith, in an unfamiliar Cardinals red. It seems almost criminal for the NFL's career rushing leader to be associated with the mediocrity of the Cardinals.

And the most surreal image of them all. Michael Jordan, not in a Chicago Bulls jersey, but in that of the Washington Wizards. I'm a Wizards fan, and even to me, it didn't seem quite right. Most Jordan fans (as might MJ himself) will probably choose to forget the couple of playoff-less years in DC.

What do you think? Any more that I've missed?


Johnny said...

I was thinking about Gary Payton and how after more than 10 years with the SuperSonics, he's now played for 4 different teams in the past 5 years.

Also, it's a little different because the guys you were talking about mainly left their hallmark teams as they were nearing retirement, but Jaime Moreno is another example of a player with an asterisk by his name. One of American soccer's all time greats, and possibly the greatest MLS player of all time, Jaime Moreno has played with DC United for 10 out of the league's 11 year history. However, there was that one bizzaro year when he played with DC's rivals, the MetroStars, in 2003. Now, it turned out not to be a big deal seeing that he only scored 2 goals with the Metros (one back in RFK against United) and upon his return to DC he led them to their 4th Championship and deserved to win league MVP; but when he earned 100 career goals this past year, you had to mention that 2 were with the bad guys. It wasn't until a few games later that he broke 100 career goals with DC and that milestone went predominantly unnoticed by the media, despite its significance to fans of DC United and, I'm sure, to Jaime

Reema said...

T.O. in a Dallas uniform...

Nick said...

johnny damon in pinstripes

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