I can’t really be try to be funny for this one.
Not to say I didn’t see it coming, or that it isn’t merited. Willis has been on a free fall since his spectacular 2005 season which saw him pitch 236 innings (as a 23 year old, with his parented leg-kicking windup – we could be looking at the source of the problem right there) with a 6.47 K/9 ratio and 3.09 Ks/BB and a mere 11 home runs allowed all season. The following seasons saw his strike out numbers remain constant, but his control deteriorated as he posted 1.93 and then 1.68 K/BB ratios. His home runs also rose to 21 and then 29 in 223 and 205 innings. This season isn’t even worth mentioning as injuries have kept him off the field for most of it. When he has pitched it’s been a disaster.
The dude is 26 still, so let’s hope he can get his shit back together. Few players have endeared themselves to the South Florida fan base like Willis did. Between his delivery, his sudden burst onto the scene in the midst of that magical 2003 season and subsequent playoff run, his ability at the plate (including a triple in the 2003 NLDS, one of my favorite baseball moments ever, as well as hitting at least one home run in each of his Florida seasons), to the way in which he just seemed to be having so much damn fun out there (pardon my cliche), he’s probably the most beloved Marlin ever. He displayed the same exuberance he did on the field any time he was in the stadium or had a camera point in his direction. He was one of those guys that wasn’t afraid to let it show that he really loved being a major league baseball player. I mean, he seemed to almost enjoy playing in Florida! Do you realize how rarely that happens?
He once got a DUI pulling over and peeing in the open on a main Miami freeway at 4 in the morning. That’s gotta be one of the best athlete arrest stories around. I’ll include the mugshot because the internet is a wonderful thing.
Oh yeah, and he called me “boss” once. Notice comments 106 and 108.
Anyway, here’s to hoping he gets his shit together and avoids becoming a 3 year/$29 million dollar version of Barry Zito. I’ll root for him wherever he goes, though the Tigers aren’t moving him anywhere as long as he is under that contract.
Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, continue with the Sidney Ponson and Kansas City Royal jokes.