My five favorite PawSox players of the past five years:
1. Devern Hansack - Easily. You know how sometimes you love people for the tiniest, most puny reason? Like Howard Stern loved Fred because he put Stern's records away for him. Hansack was so easy to root for, did a great job, and then (tiny little reason). I regularly try to find him, but he's currently defying search engines. Because of him, I know way too much about Nicaragua. If you have a problem with this, then we are no longer friends. Period.
2. Jeff Bailey - Bailey could have been number one, but his post-2008 crabbiness set him back a little. He was just a guy called up from Portland, splitting the catching duties with Jim Buckley in 2006. Then something weird happened in 2008 and Bailey wound up the IL's MVP, edging out Chris Carter. This event was probably the last exciting thing that happened in Pawtucket.
A big part of Bailey's appeal for me was how damn ordinary he was. Like some stoner you graduated with and would occasionally run into at your hometown bar the night before Thanksgiving. He reminded me of my uncle.
3. Bobby Scales - Bobby Scales busted his ass in 2007 and probably played every position except the big 2. The triples! The baserunning! And then his long-deserved callup in 2009... I got very emotional when I heard the news and maybe even now I could mist up. Scales was such a terrific player and what's more, not just another douchepants lobotomized jock.
4. Abe Alvarez - Alvarez was kind of a weird kid. His starts were always fun to watch. He definitely matured a lot in Pawtucket and when he was suddenly cut loose in May 2008, I wondered what had happened. The org's held on to much crappier pitchers. Seemed almost personal. As far as I know, he is still playing Italian baseball. Again, part of his appeal was Not Being a Meathead Like Chris Carter or Kevin Youkilis.
5. Marc Deschenes - Too bad he never got called up. Did a pretty good job. I totally loved him for reasons I kinda don't remember. Good-looking, regular Joe local guy from Mass. Won the Bob Feller award. Listened to my stupid Rochester story and feigned interest. Yeah.
Here are some players that could have made a longer list: Javier Lopez, Alejandro Machado, Dustin Pedroia, Manny Delcarmen, Dave Pauley, Charlie Zink, Joe McEwing, Gil Velazquez, Sandy Madera, Joe Thurston.
Congratulations to all the winners, who will be receiving gift certificates to A Very Famous Dominican restaurant in Central Falls.