¿Por que de Jesus?

He’s not the dreaded embodiment of what “Phillies pitcher” meant during my early years of fandom.

That would be Bruce Ruffin, whose Baseball Reference page is sponsored by “HBBL Likes Roughin Up Ruffin,” who writes, “Thanks Ruff of all the terrible Phils hurlers of the 80’s you were the worst. And to think you actually got votes for ROTY once.”

Or Don Carman, who led the NL in losses with 15 in 1989, when he also had an ERA+ of 68 (100 is average; Brad Lidge’s 2009 ERA+ was 59).

Or Shane Rawley, who at least was traded for a 106 OPS+ year of Tommy Herr (who in turn was traded for the immortal duo of Rocky Elli and Nikco Riesgo).

Or Kevin Gross, who led the NL in HR in 1986 and walks in 1988 but really wasn’t that bad.

So other than leading the NL in walks in 1991 with 128 (when he went 10-9 with a 107 ERA+ and led the NL in fewest HR/9 at 0.347– a mere 7 HR in 181.2 IP), he’s not notorious or even especially notable. Why, then, Jose de Jesus?

Because when I was 17 I brought a magic marker cardboard sign that read ¡DE JESUS IS GOD! to one of his home starts, where Veterans Stadium staff eyed me suspiciously but decided I was unblasphemous enough to be allowed in. (I wasn’t normally into signs, though the same season I would bring one to what I thought would be a matchup of hot-hitting pitchers: Phils lefty Dennis Cook, who would later slug .889 for the 1997 World Champion Florida Marlins, versus San Francisco righty Don “Caveman” Robinson, who would hit 13 HRs in his fifteen-year career. Cook would be scratched from the lineup, though, replaced by ex-Giant teammate Terry Mulholland, who would promptly throw a no-walk, no-run no-hitter against his old team.)

Because of his explanation of how he tried to focus on throwing strikes by blocking out everything except his catcher: “me and Daulton, me and Daulton.”

Because being traded for Steve Jeltz (who had a career OPS+ of 61, who was born in Paris, and whose Fan Club was founded by New York Times Yankees beat writer Tyler Kepner as a teenager) is worth something.

Because of how Harry Kalas would always say “HO-zay DAY-hay-SOOSE.”

Because he has a 982 similarity score with someone who actually threw a no-hitter.

Because he missed both the 1992 and 1993 seasons with injuries and was granted free agency on October 15, 1993– the day before the Phillies began their fateful World Series against Toronto. (Maybe he could have pitched the 9th?)

&, last but not least, because, like me, Jose de Jesus actually is a Capricorn. (Oddly enough, so is Ivan de Jesus— no relation. David de Jesus– also no relation– barely missed.)

Jose de Jesus worthy of his own blog? ¿Por que no?


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