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Major Leaguers with "Alligator Blood"

I love Teddy KGB. Could be one of my favorite movie characters in a non-comedy in the past 10 years. Call me crazy. Something about the accent. And, moreover, the accents on the accent.

Cah-nt get reed of heem. Keed’s goht al-ee-gay-toor blahd.

Speaking of which…why is Rounders never on television? Doesn’t it seem tailor-made for network TV? Not a ton of violence, no sex and you can bleep out the curses and still not completely kill the better dialogue of the film. Plus, it’s has infinite watchability in the sense that you can tune in at various times and get sucked in knowing a $$ scene is just around the corner (outside of the whole boring law school 15 minutes and maybe the Yeshiva sit-down chat with Professor Petrovsky).

We digress. The point of this is alligator blood. Football players careers are somewhat finite; bodies can only take so much punishment. Although slightly more enduring, hoops players typically don’t make it through good portions of multiple decades. There are the Bobby Horrys and Sam Cassells who will seemingly be lacing it up into the next millennium. And, of course, who-want-to-sex Mutombo.

But it’s baseball where players seem to stick around forever. Sometimes it’s not reality, but rather perception. Combine the length of each contest, along with a 162-game schedule and a lengthy postseason, and longer-tenured players often seem as if they’ve been on our TVs for centuries.

For instance, when I was a little kid I remember finding a few Dan Plesac cards in my Topps pack from time to time. Ten years later in high school I could’ve sworn he was still playing. Another decade past, after I’d long since graduated college, I couldn’t be convinced that Pleasac wasn’t on somebody’s active roster. I’m still not sure about it.

Plesac played parts of 18 Major League seasons with six teams. He was never phenomenally good (although he did make a few All-Star games early on as a closer), and he was never insultingly bad. He just kind of kept playing and playing (lefty specialists have a superlative strain of alligator blood). So, all of this got us to thinking. Who are those guy on active rosters today who demonstrate that Dan Plesac-like quality? Which Major Leaguers have “alligator blood?”

For the sake of this discussion, no middle relievers or pinch hitter extradonaires (sorry, Lenny Harris, Ray King, Julian Taverez, Craig Counsell and the like). We want guys who have managed to consistently make starting lineups and/or get significant playing time regardless of whether they’ve ever done anything to merit such (thereby disqualifying Greg Maddux or even Steve Finley and Luis Gonzalez-types).

Using very little statistical data of any kind, here are a few that come to mind for us. Add your active “alligator blood” guys in the comments.

Steve Trachsel
Current team: Baltimore Orioles
Years MLB Service: 16
Since he’s a former Met, we’ve got a soft spot for “Trax” in our heart. OK, not really. We just woke up from his last start, we’d dozed off somewhere in between a pitch in the fifth. Trachsel has been hurling in the majors since 1993. His career record: 143-158. His ERA comes in at a thoroughly-mediocre 4.33. Top his 16-year career with he fact that he takes approximately 35 minutes between pitches, and it’s no wonder it feels like Trachsel has been around since the Paleolithic era.

Brad Ausmus
Current team: Houston Astros
Years MLB Service: 16

It feels like Brad Ausmus has been the Houston Astros catcher for 30 years. In reality, the career .254 hitter has played for the Padres and went to an All-Star game in ’99 for the Detroit Tigers. Who knew? Most importantly, Brad Ausmus is most definitely the Bossmus

Gregg Zaun
Current team: Toronto Blue Jays
Years MLB Service: 14

Zaun is the AL-equivalent of Ausmus. Fourteen seasons and a lifetime .252 hitter. Unlike Brad though, Gregg (with two g’s) has no All-Star appearances or Gold Gloves to his credit. Granted he’s never been a real full-timer, but Zaun has played in over 1,000 games and logged nearly 3,000 plate appearances. Amazingly, little of significance has been left behind.

Doug Mientkiewicz
Current team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Years MLB Service: 11

For some reason, I’ve always found Dougie immensely likeable. Maybe it’s the funny, hard-to-spell name…or perhaps the barehanded batting. Whatever the case may be, he is one of those guys who keeps showing up on Major League rosters and finding his way into games despite having lost his bat about five years ago. Mink still flashes decent leather around the first base bag, and he has that unique alligator blood-type that it wouldn’t surprise you if he’s still around a few years from now. Somehow. Somewhere.

Miguel Cairo
Current team: Seattle Mariners
Years MLB service: 13

Cairo always scared me in those Subway series games against the Metros. He knows how to play the game and doesn’t make easy outs. Cairo is one of those guys you could see as a manager…if he ever stops playing.

Livan Hernandez
Current team: Minnesota Twins
Years MLB service: 13

Livan is going to be chucking 200 innings a season until he’s 55 years old. I would’ve bet the house that he was done at a few times during his 13-year career. However, he’s nothing if not consistent. Clubs can count on Hernandez at the back of their rotation to go out, compete and “keep you in games,” which is about all managers expect nowadays. A lifetime .519 winning percentage guy, I expect Livan to keep on keeping on for at least a few years (and a few more teams).

Others receiving LCG votes: Tony Clark (Padres), Damion Easley (Mets), Brett Tomko (Royals), Craig Counsell (Brewers), Jamie Moyer (Phils)

So, who else you got, LCG readers?

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  1. Erie's Scribe

    May 19, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Jason Kendall (whever he’s playing these days?)

  2. Wilson

    May 20, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    “But it’s baseball where players seem to stick around forever”

    Gordie Howe would like a word with you.

  3. landshark

    May 20, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Mark Grudzielanek, 13 years

    I remember an old blooper of Harey Carey saying his name backwards KENALIZURG

  4. Hit Dog

    May 20, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Greg Maddux. Genuine legend, but it feels like his career was declared dead at least twice, and it ain’t yet.

    Jamie Moyer. Wasn’t even that notable until he’d hit double-digit seasons. Now a 200+ win pitcher. Truly out of nowhere, that one. Can you lose your stuff if you never had it?

    Tim Wakefield. His whole career is the work of alligator blood, as a failed third baseman. He’s so old-school, he willingly put himself under the fucking reserve clause for the Red Sox.

    Moises Alou. One of two players to make All-Star teams with five different teams. Should have been given an honorary hat with every MLB logo by Gaylord Perry and Rickey Henderson in honor of his induction into a different sort of Hall of Fame: Bingo Long’s Traveling All-Stars.

  5. Cecilio's Scribe

    May 20, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    grudzielanek has been around forever. only reason i’d say he might not fit on this list is that he’s actually pretty good. he fits in with the jason kendalls and even ray durhams. there are a couple of all-star appearances around there. mark’s a .290 career guy.

  6. Cecilio's Scribe

    May 20, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Wakefield is a great one. Can’t believe i didn’t even get him in the “receiving votes” category.

  7. MCBias

    May 20, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I like the list, and erie’s scribe beat me to Jason Kendall. What about Luis Gonzalez as well? Or Craig Counsell?

  8. MCBias

    May 20, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    *oops, sorry, you have Counsell on the list already.

  9. justin

    May 20, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    This list missed by one year the guy this list should be named after:

    Julio Franco, 23 years, 8 different teams

    Maybe a little too good by your standards but still the gold standard for guys who have been around forever.

    Same sort of idea: Kenny Lofton, 16 years, 11(!) teams

  10. Benjamin

    May 20, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Tom Glavine? Rookie year was 1988. That’s longer than any of the guys mentioned in the post.

  11. Erie's Scribe

    May 20, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Jason Kendall sucks and you know it.

  12. werdna2211

    May 21, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    How about “professional hitter” Matt Stairs? The dude is 40 and made his debut in 1992. He only has a few seasons with 500+ at-bats, but he’s been at least a platoon player for most of his career. And he’s a legit hitter (career OPS of .847 with 247 home runs), but he probably would have been out of baseball about 8 years ago if it weren’t for the DH. Even without having to play in the field, it’s kind of amazing how long he’s lasted considering his, umm, “chunky” physique.

  13. Cecilio's Scribe

    May 21, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    werdna. $$ call on Stairs. had him on the brain at one point and lost him. well-played.

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