Look up and down the rosters of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros and you’ll find plenty of great players with great stories and big personalities, offering all kinds of reasons for a neutral fan to want to seem them lifting the Commissioner’s Trophy as World Series champs. The peerless Clayton Kershaw finally burying his unfair playoff reputation would be a beautiful thing to watch. So too would watching the incredible Jose Altuve ascend into superstardom before our very eyes—if he hasn’t done that already. Watching Yasiel Puig bound around victorious would be tremendous. Or seeing Justin Verlander finally winning the title that eluded him for 13 seasons in Detroit.
For the baseball hipster, though, I think there’s one name that stands above the others for his ability to produce vicarious joy: Brandon Morrow.
Hard to believe as it is, it’s now been 11 years since Seattle took the UC Berkeley hurler with the effortless velocity and classic pitcher’s frame with the fifth pick in the 2006 draft. It’s been so long that the player taken five spots later, with whom Morrow would be inextricably linked early on in his career, is all but already out of baseball. Tim Lincecum was the local kid, a long-haired University of Washington star the Mariners passed on and almost instantly regretted. Lincecum blasted through the minor leagues, making 24 starts for the Giants in 2007, the year after he was drafted, then won the first of back-to-back Cy Young awards in 2008.