Monday, May 30, 2005
Raul Mondesi, -Sigh-
It seems that Raul Mondesi will soon be out of a job with the Atlanta Braves due to poor numbers and a nagging leg injury. At a relatively young age of 34, it's possible that Mondesi could be out of baseball, with most of his skills still intact.
He was at one time my favorite Dodger, a five tool player with jaw-dropping talent. The cheer "Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuulll!" was commonplace at Dodger Stadium in the 90's, and Mondesi was absolutely electrifying. His 1999 opening day performance may have been his greatest day, as he hit a 3 run HR off Gregg Olson to tie the game with 2 outs in the 9th inning, and later hit a game-winning HR in the 11th. That was the single greatest game I ever witnessed at Dodger Stadium.
I remember another game where the opposing hitter hit a single to right field. As he jogged to 1B, Mondesi casually charged the ball, and absolutely gunned a one hopper to 1B for an out. The crowd went nuts with chants of "Mon - De - Si! Mon - De - Si!" I was sitting in the RF Pavilion. I cheered.
Mondesi played with reckless abandon at times, and his raw talent was evident to all. But all that "raw talent" never matured into "skill." He missed cutoff men at times, rarely showed plate discipline, and swung for the fences on virtually every slider off the plate. In a game loaded with adjustments, Mondesi rarely changed his game.
The bullheaded Mondesi eventually went off in the famous F-bomb tirade against LA management. This act, among others, ultimately got him traded to Toronto in exchange for choir boy Shawn Green. A few years later, Mondesi got dumped from the Yankees due to clashing with management. Just last year, Mondesi managed to get axed from 2 teams for basically not showing up. He was a headstrong bull on and off the field, which was both a gift and a curse.
Mondesi's talent was good enough to sustain a nice 10 year career, but he could have been the superstar everyone thought he would be. So much for the second coming of Roberto Clemente. What a talent gone to waste.