I know you guys have probably been expecting me to chime in on this all day, so here I am. I am creating this post not to debate the rationalization of this move, nor to analyze the return. It's too late for all that. I merely wish to use this thread to reminisce and bid farewell to a remarkable person who's had his share of ups and downs. A lot of this will be stuff I've already mentioned on my own blog, but I'll take the risk and share it with the wider BYB community, since a lot of you know how I feel.
Most of you have heard the expression “live and die with your team.” I’m definitely one of those types of fans, but I think the saying can be applied to players, too. There are some players that I love more, but I don’t think I’ve lived and died with any of them quite as much as I have with Armando Galarraga. I’ve liked him from the first start he ever made with the Tigers, which was an absolute beauty of a performance. I’ve seen plenty of pitchers make their first starts with the Tigers, both good and bad, and I’m normally fairly skeptical of them, even when it was a good start (Andrew Miller, Luke French, Alfredo Figaro, and Yorman Bazardo come to mind). But for some reason, something about Galarraga’s performance just stuck with me. The only other pitcher to whom I’ve reacted that way after his first start was Jair Jurrjens. I may well have developed the same sort of enthusiasm had he not been traded so soon after I first saw him. With Galarraga, I quickly realized that this was someone who maybe didn’t have the most awesome stuff, but was very smart and was certainly capable and I just liked how he pitched. When he believed in himself, he projected such an air of calmness and intelligence, and watching the way he attacked hitters was so beautiful that it made enduring all the struggles totally worth it. The fact that he had such a pleasant personality didn’t hurt matters, either. And as wonderful as he was to watch in 2008, 2009 was rather gut-wrenching at times. I don’t know what precisely happened to make him lose his confidence (although I do think injury played a large role in why his pitches weren’t moving the way they should), but I really felt for him. And the more his detractors and critics got on his case, the more I felt sorry for him and the more I wanted to stand up for him. But I never stopped believing in him.
And of course, we all know how 2010 was a long, strange trip for him. I wanted things to work out for him in Detroit so badly, and now that's going to happen and we'll never know what might have been. He has brilliance in him. We’ve seen it before, when he’s not getting in his own way. But it seems like Armando is always being victimized by something, whether it’s blown calls, lack of run support, roster crunches, or his own insecurity. As a matter of fact, he appeared on a Venezuelan radio show today and said (as best I could translate the quotes on Twitter) that he thinks Detroit is a good team, but he always felt like he had to fight for his job and he could never secure it. He did tell Jason Beck that he doesn’t hold anything against the Tigers, and I hope he’s being honest about that, because I would hate for them to part on bad terms. Still, Armando managed to defy all his critics and detractors for at least one night, and he has a permanent place in Tigers’ history. He will be noted in almost every book about the Tigers from here on out. He’ll be in Ken Burns’s next baseball documentary, thanks to his actions both on the field and off. I just wish the story could have gone on a little bit longer. At the same time, I hope his legacy in Detroit will be a positive one, and that Tigers fans will remember him with the same respect and fondness that they have for guys like Pudge and Granderson and Polanco. I can’t be the only one who feels that way.
And so now the time comes to say good-bye for good. Right now, I can’t bear to watch his old Tigers games, and I can’t bear to watch him in any other uniform. Someday I will be able to. The wounds will heal, just as they did with Pudge. This season will always be bittersweet, but it is still baseball, and baseball is a beautiful thing. And so I say adios, Armando. May you find the success you deserve, wherever that may be.