Learning To Appreciate Willie Bloomquist

Willie Bloomquist of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on after being picked off in the third inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 3, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Willie Bloomquist isn't that bad. He really isn't that bad. Come on, you guys, he isn't that bad. He isn't good, either. But he isn't that bad.

Earlier Tuesday, a funny tweet crossed my screen.* It came courtesy of Yahoo!'s Tim Brown, and it read:

Source: If Willie Bloomquist doesn't return to Arizona, SF is a possibility.

* I use very unusual Twitter software

In isolation, it isn't funny. To anybody who isn't a baseball fan, it isn't funny, and it would be very difficult for us to explain to them our response. It's just a tweet saying one available player could join a new team if he doesn't re-join his old team. Boring.

But to baseball fans, or at least to internet baseball fans, it's a funny message, because a lot of fun has been had at Willie Bloomquist's expense, and the idea of a team being interested in Willie Bloomquist as a free agent is a funny one. Especially a team like San Francisco. A lot of fun has been had at San Francisco's expense as well, so the two make for an appropriate pair.

The Willie Bloomquist jokes go back a long way. Willie Bloomquist jokes are almost as old as David Eckstein jokes, as Eckstein debuted in 2001, and Bloomquist debuted in 2002. If you're reading this, I probably don't need to explain the Bloomquist background, but, in short:

  • Not very good
  • Never very good
  • Beloved by coaches
  • Beloved by media
  • Apparent overconfidence
  • The hustle
  • So much hustle

The modern generation of internet baseball fans is one trained to favor productivity over hustle and effort and general balls-to-the-wall-ness, so Willie Bloomquist has long been one of the faces of the enemy. When I say "enemy," I don't mean that to represent people we want dead; I mean that to represent the players over whom we have the biggest differences of opinion with the old guard. Willie Bloomquist has always tried really hard, but he's also never been good, at least as a major leaguer. This is an issue.

Let me tell you something, though, and let me tell you something as a guy who's been a fan of the Seattle Mariners for longer than Willie Bloomquist has been around: I used to make all the jokes. I used to delight in the jokes. I no longer make nearly so many jokes.

2010 Mariners 0.637
2010 Bloomquist 0.679
2011 Mariners 0.640
2011 Bloomquist 0.657

Willie Bloomquist has a career .654 OPS. He posted a .645 OPS over his 540 games with Seattle. Those are both higher OPS figures than the Mariners as a team have generated over the past two full seasons.

As you can imagine, this has opened my eyes. At first, I was embarrassed. I'm still kind of embarrassed. I root for a baseball team that, over the past two years, has been out-hit by Willie Bloomquist. Holy crap, that's so bad, holy crap. But I've also been forced to look for the silver linings, lest I throw up my hands and give up on baseball entirely, and this has given me a new appreciation for what Bloomquist - specifically Bloomquist - brings to the table.

A summary of his traits:

  • Not completely miserable offense
  • Decent baserunning
  • Plenty of contact
  • Oodles of versatility
  • Leadership and hustle and drive and everything

It's all the same crap as always. Very little about Willie Bloomquist has changed. But I've changed. Through my recent experiences watching terrible Mariners teams, I've come to realize that Bloomquist isn't some walking joke. He's a moderately useful baseball player who is not out of his element in the major leagues.

It makes sense that the Giants would be interested. The Giants posted a .671 team OPS last season. They scored 570 runs. Bottoming out sheds light on new things. Also Willie Bloomquist is getting old.

I still want to make the jokes. It's hard to shake what you thought for so long. When I see Willie Bloomquist's name in a rumor or a lineup, I still chuckle, if only in my head. That response is probably always going to be there. But Willie Bloomquist isn't bad. He isn't good, but he isn't bad. He is a player of some use who isn't over his head coming to the plate 200 or 300 or even 400 times in a season, playing a variety of positions. Perhaps it is only by rooting for a joke that I've arrived where I am, but I'm sorry, Willie. I'm sorry for being so mean.

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