June 30, 2012

HOVG Heroes: Scott Podsednik


CURT HOGG on SCOTT PODSEDNIK

The cavalcade of fourteen players to have hit walk-off home runs in the World Series boasts some of baseball's gargantuan sluggers, including Mickey Mantle, Mark McGwire, Kirby Puckett, Carlton Fisk, and...Scott Podsednik?

The highlight of journeyman and stolen base whiz's career undoubtedly came in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, when he became the most improbable man to ever hit a walk-off round-tripper in the Fall Classic. After hitting no home runs in 507 regular season at-bats with the White Sox, Podsednik stepped up in the bottom of the ninth and laced the game winner to right center of Brad Lidge.

Ensue Podsanity,  National Scott Podsednik Day, and career impetus, right?

Not so much.

More often than not, the average baseball fan won't do much dignity to “The Podfather” and both his 2005 heroics and successful career that has gone largely under-the-radar.

To emphasize this, at a game at Miller Park featuring the Giants and Brewers earlier this season, the fan seated to my right and I struck up a conversation about baseball.

When he mentioned an anecdote about David Freese's 2011 Game 6 magic last season, I asked if he remembered the last walk-off homer in the World Series prior to that. His response: "Derek Jeter, right?".

When I offered that the name in question donned a Brewers jersey for two seasons, the name he came up with was... "Kevin Mench?"

Podsednik's aforementioned two seasons in Milwaukee not only enamored the ladies with the smeared eye black-wearing, chew-spitting, dirty-uniformed, high pant leg-rocking outfielder from West, Texas, but made a certain third grader strangely fall in love with him, so much so that, eight years later, he would even be willing to use run-on sentences to describe that connection.

In 2003, Podsednik's first of two seasons as a Brewer, the center fielder batted .314 with nine homers, 58 RBI, and 43 stolen bases. He evidently finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting to Florida's Dontrelle Willis. The following season he led all of baseball with 70 steals despite only posting a .313 OBP.

In eleven Major League seasons, Podsednik has played for seven teams, including two stints with the White Sox. He opened his career in Seattle, only amounting for 26 at-bats over two seasons, before his breakout rookie season in 2003.

After three seasons in Chicago, he signed as a free agent with the Colorado Rockies in 2008 before experiencing a brief career revitalization with the White Sox again in 2009, hitting .304 and swiping 30 bases.

After spending 2010 with the Royals and Dodgers, he only appeared in the Phillies' farm system before hitting a home run in his first game for the Red Sox in 2012.

However, his career seemed likely to never even happen.

After being drafted by the hometown Texas Rangers in 1994, his debut in the Majors didn't come until he pinch-ran for Ichiro in July of 2001. It took him nine years to become an established player in the lineup every day. Even after spending the majority of seven years in the majors, Podsednik spent all of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 in the minor leagues, as well.

If being only one of fourteen players to have hit walk-off home runs in the World Series isn't good enough for Podsednik, he can claim to be the only person to beat Derek Jeter in the All Star Game's "Final Man" vote. In addition to beating out the future Hall of Famer, he received more votes than Torii Hunter, Carl Crawford, and Hideki Matsui. Those are no names to scoff at, especially back in '05.

Integral to Podsednik's style of play has always been his speed and steal on the base paths. Overall, he had the fifth-most steals between 2003 and 2009. and currently sits at 13th on the active list.

Currently, as a 36-year-old manning centerfield at Fenway Park, the man lovingly referred to as "Scotty Pods" by the baseball community and "Scottie the Hottie" by his female following while in Milwaukee sits at 13th on the active steals list.

Is he back to his 2005 form? Probably not.

But, as is being displayed in Boston, “The Podfather” is still the same effective ballplayer of days past.  He even boasts a .302 average over his past three seasons, totaling more than 1100 at-bats.

So here's to you, Scotty. May your 2005 Fall Classic magic never be forgotten, your prowess for stealing second and head-first triples be remembered, your 2004 Brewers bobblehead continue to bobble, and your passion for the game always be remembered.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Curt Hogg is a 17-year-old staff writer covering Brewers baseball at Reviewing The Brew, but perhaps is better known as "that Ryan Braun Kid". He has been featured on Deadspin, USA Today, Sports Illustrated's "Hot Clicks", and other national news sources, but this isn't his first appearance for HOVG.

In addition to blogging about baseball, Hogg lived in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru for seven years but currently resides and attends school in Brown Deer, WI, and can run a 4:50 mile. Dare to follow him on Twitter, read his work about the Brew Crew, and order his FatHead on Amazon while supplies last!



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