Monday, September 28, 2009

A Most Solemn Quevedo Day To You And Yours.

For most of you, September 28, 2003 probably wasn’t a very significant date. Maybe you marked the 12th anniversary of Miles Davis’ death; maybe you got yourself invited to Gweny Paltrow’s 31st birthday party (and were subjected to four hours of Chris Martin and his stupid band playing stupid music that sounds like the modern equivalent of Bread); maybe you got ambitious and finished the New York Times crossword. (Looks hard, but it’s a topical puzzle name.) For the rest of you, though, it was probably just another Sunday.

For those of us who write for a blog named after erstwhile Milwaukee Brewers pitcher/black hole/chupacabra Ruben Quevedo, September 28 is a very important day, ranking up there with Arbor Day, the autumnal equinox, and Jimmie “JJ” Walker’s birthday. For it was on September 28, 2003, that Ruben Quevedo made his final appearance as a Milwaukee Brewer. Long before Jeff Suppan was tarnishing the number 37 in the minds of Brewers’ fans everywhere, our man Ruben was putting up 6.00+ ERAs and 1.50+ WHIPs like they were goin’ out of style.

Now, you might look at Rubie’s final line from that fateful September day – 1.3 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 1 home run allowed – and shrug. We, however, see something much more momentous. We see the Good Friday of our muse, our light, our inspiration.

So, in the Catholic tradition, we mark this most solemn of days by remembering the career of Ruben Thaddeus Ezekiel Quetzalcoatl Bryan (note: may not be actual middle names) Quevedo, in our own (slightly-unhinged) way. We call it the Stations of the Buffet.

Comin' up: some light to moderate blasphemy. If you're easily offended, you might think twice before soldiering on ... though, if you wanted to pray for us, it probably couldn't hurt anything.

Station No. 1: Ruben is condemned to pitch for the Chicago Cubs.

As it is written, in the Book of Juan 18-19 – “…unwanted and misunderstood by his own people, Ruben Quevedo was sent for judgment by the ruling system of that time, the Braves of Atlanta. Despite having had success in many conquests over the years via the rule of Governors Smoltz, Maddux, and Glavine, the Braves of Atlanta were unsure what to do with young Quevedo. The trial was passed from town to town – Danville, Macon, Richmond – across the span of the Braves Empire. Eventually, wanting to wash their hands of his fate, the Braves offered Quevedo up to the people. And so it was determined that Ruben’s fate should be decided by the National League Central with the Cubs of Chicago. In exchange, the Cubs released mass strikeout offender Jose Hernandez and cunning left-hander Terrance Mullholand.

“Quevedo was first dispatched to Des Moines (for further lashings), but eventually made his way to Wrigleyville in the year 2000 A.D. With his first appearance on April 14, and running through the Catholic Holy Week up to and including Easter Sunday, young Quevedo pitched out of the bullpen in 5 games. The Cubs of Chicago surrendered all five of those contests, and Quevedo was afflicted with Loss in two appearances. On Easter Sunday, Quevedo’s ERA ascended to an impressive – and atrocious – 27.00. It was at this point, deeply plagued with Loss, that Ruben realized why the Cubs of Chicago had been branded ‘the lovable losers,’ and came to know that he, too, would share their unhappy curse for the rest of his days.

“Stigmatized, Quevedo’s conditioning suffered dreadfully. Surrounded by temptation, with Chicago-style hotdogs, deep dish pizza, and Italian beef around every corner, Ruben’s belly ballooned more rapidly than his ERA. He traveled a long path with stops at Weiner’s Circle, Portillo’s, and Pizzeria Uno.”

Station No. 2: Ruben makes his first start for the Cubs.

“And so, the King of the Cubs, Donald Baylor, decreed that young Quevedo should be placed into a contest against his former mates from the Braves of Atlanta. Still deeply afflicted with Loss, and unable to counter the wiles of the dastardly Terrance Mulholland, rotund Quevedo turned in the first of many utterly forgettable starts, giving up five earned in six innings and giving up tape-measure jobs to Andres Galarraga and Javy Lopez. Still he managed to cut his ERA in half, dropping from 27.00 to a wholly respectable 14.90.”

Station No. 3: Ruben falls for the first time, or: how I learned to stop worrying that Ruben would last two innings in a start.

There’s no way to pretty this line up, even with faux-Bible speak: September 2, 2000 vs. San Francisco: 1.3 IP, 4 hits, 4 earned runs, 5 walks (even Doug Davis is impressed with that number), 2 K, 1 HBP. The most impressive part of that start? In that inning-and-a-third, Quevedo still found time to walk in three runs.

Station No. 4: Ruben meets his Major League mother, the Milwaukee Brewers.

History repeated itself on July 30, 2001, as Quevedo continued to be a pawn in late season trades. This time, he was traded at the deadline to Milwaukee, with Pete Zoccolillo (who?) for David Weathers and Roberto Miniel.

According to Baseball America:

“Both teams gambled somewhat on this trade. Quevedo isn't in the same class as Cubs pitching prospects Juan Cruz, Carlos Zambrano and Ben Christensen, but Chicago may rue his departure if their rotation springs a leak. And while Quevedo can provide some immediate help to the Brewers, Milwaukee gave up a legitimate pitching prospect in Miniel, albeit one who's not very close to the majors. It will be interesting to see how this deal plays out over the next few years.”

The Cubs were probably rueing their eyeballs out on August 21, 2001 when Rubie gave up one run in seven innings, while striking out 10 in a 3-1 win. Sadly (at least from the Brewers' perspective), that was likely the end of the rueing.

Station No. 5: AAA carries Rubie’s cross.

Though he struggled in every way as a big leaguer, Rubie was able to pierce the soft underbelly of the Pacific Coast and International Leagues as a Cub and Brewer farmhand. Rubes compiled a 21-9 record with Iowa and Indianapolis. Lest you think this impressive, the following players were knocking around the minors at that time. Remember – these are the guys who all made big league clubs:

Former Brewers

Trent Durrington

Ryan Thompson

Brooks Kieschnick

John Jaha

Scott Podsednik

Keith Ginter

Chad Moeller

Junior Spivey

Brant Brown

Random Crap Players

Alfredo Amezega

Rich Becker

Sal Fasano

Butch Huskey

Mark Bellhorn

Jeremy Giambi

F.P. Santangelo

Manny Alexander

Pat Borders

Bubba Crosby

Andy Stankiewicz

Bobby Kielty

Quinton McCracken

Matthew LeCroy

Chris Magruder

Felipe Crespo

Eric Bruntlett

Adam Everett

Ricky Ledee

Stubby Clapp

Station No. 6: Davey Lopes wipes the face of Quevedo.

It was the third of August. One day before he would make his first appearance in a Brewers uniform, Ruben Quevedo was so nervous that he overindulged himself on the pre-game spread. After eating a full rack of ribs, three bacon cheeseburgers, a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios (for the fiber, of course), three bowls of rainbow sherbet, and 28 Pixy Sticks, Quevedo wasn't feeling too good. His new manager, Davey Lopes, noticed that it was the second inning and his new pitcher wasn't in the dugout tracking the pitches of that day's starter. In between innings, Lopes walked down to the clubhouse to find Quevedo sprawled out on a leather couch in front of a “Golden Girls” rerun. He picked up a Gatorade towel and slowly approached Ruben. Lopes picked up Quevedo's head and held it in his lap, and tenderly wiped the BBQ sauce off Ruben’s face. Legend has it that there was some kind of chemical reaction between the BBQ sauce, Pixy Stick dust, and sherbet, and that this reaction left a permanent imprint on the Gatorade towel. Try as they might, the clubhouse attendants could not remove the stain from the towel. Today, the towel is known as the Bib of Quevedo – at least, it would be, if one of the clubhouse attendants hadn’t chucked it when the stain wouldn’t come out. One man’s trash …

Station No. 7: Ruben falls for the second time, or: how I (immediately) learned to stop worrying that Rubie would be a valuable part of the Brewer rotation.

As you’ve seen in the previous Stations, Ruben Quevedo was many things. One thing he was not, however, was a tease: in his first start with the Brewers, Ruben immediately showed Brewer Nation (at that time, it was probably more of a city-state) what they could expect for the next two years: 3 IP, 8 hits, 7 earned, 2 walks, five Ks, and two homers – including the first of Wes Helms’ two jacks on the day. At the end of the day, the Brewers dropped a 14-2 nailbiter, and Helms drove in seven (which apparently caused Doug Melvin to decide: “I’ve gotta have that guy”).

Station No. 8: Ruben meets the fans of Milwaukee. They weep.

April 3, 2002: The hopes of a new season were fresh in the hearts of Brewers’ fans everywhere. An opening day win in Houston, behind Ben Sheets, vaulted the Brewers to 1-0. The next day, the Brewers sent Ruben Quevedo to the mound to make the only start of his career for a team with a plus-.500 record. Ruben promptly put those hopes to rest, giving up 8 runs in 3 1/3 innings, with 4 walks. A crack squad of relievers, led by Luis Vizcaino and Ray King, came in to fan the flames, and the Brewers went down in horrific fashion, 15-2. They never again cracked the .500 mark in 2002, en route to a franchise worst 56-106 record. After witnessing the carnage in Houston that day, Brewer fans wept. Ruben saw this and said, “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and your franchise.” No one had the heart to tell him that they were already doing that, and were never actually weeping for him in the first place.

Station No. 9: Ruben falls for the third time, or: how I learned when enough was enough, even for a team as bad as the ’03 Brewers.

By the time Quevedo’s June 24, 2003 start against the Cubs rolled around, Brewer fans had to be wondering what, exactly, a guy with a 5.75 ERA and an opposing OPS of .926 had to do to get himself yanked from the rotation. As he so often did, Ruben provided a quick answer to that question: 0.6 innings pitched, 5 hits, 4 runs (all earned), 1 walk, 0 Ks, 2 homers – including one (and it hurts me to type this) to Corey Patterson. The outing was so pathetic that Ned Yost couldn’t even deliver his patented: “He was one pitch away from getting out of that inning” line.

Station No. 10: Ruben is stripped of his dignity as he can’t complete the mile run on the first day of camp in ’02.

(We’re taking this one out of order, but no Ode to Quevedo is complete without a retelling of this story.) On paper, it seemed like a match made in Heaven: Dave Stewart, a tough-as-nails, no-nonsense, borderline-psychotic pitching coach, and Ruben Quevedo, a morbidly-obese, lazy, ineffective starting pitcher. Predictably, when Stew went drill sergeant and made his new charges run a mile on the first day of Spring Training in 2002, disaster ensued: Rubie couldn’t finish the mile. As far as omens go, this wasn’t a good one. At the end of the year, Ruben had compiled a 6-11 record with a 5.76 ERA, a tidy 1.63 WHIP, and an OPS against of .892. Scarred by his experience with Quevedo, Stew abandoned his post halfway through the year.

Station No. 11: Ruben Quevedo’s fate is sealed when he signs with the Baltimore Orioles.

January 29, 2004: Following the footsteps of fellow Brewer castoff Mike DeJean, Ruben signs with the Orioles. Unlike Milwaukee, Baltimore is a team that seems to be on the upswing and has actual aspirations of contending. Not surprisingly, Ruben fails to crack a loaded Baltimore rotation that featured Sidney Ponson, Rodrigo Lopez, Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera and Eric DuBose (who?). In fact, our research was not able to find any record of Ruben even appearing in big league camp for the Orioles. We speculate that he spent the better part of that spring in minor league camp, where he wallowed in his own self pity, eating boxes of Twinkies and drinking bottles of Durango tequila flavored liqueur (because, of course, you can’t afford to get obliterated on Patron on the salary of a non-roster, spring training invitee). Ruben was sent to the Orioles AA affiliate, the Bowie Baysox. Upon hearing of this assignment, Quevedo reportedly said: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” But he only said it quietly, under his breath, so as not to be laughed at by anyone who might have heard.

Station No. 12: Quevedo is released by the Orioles.

Rubie appeared in only one game for the Bowie Baysox. He was originally scheduled to pitch on Saturday, June 5, 2004 (the same day former President Ronald Reagan died), but the game was rained out. Instead, his only appearance was against the Binghamton Mets on June 10, 2004, a team that included David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Angel Pagan. Quevedo pitched 1.6 innings, giving up only 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 2. He was subsequently placed on the disabled list on June 11, 2004 and never pitched for them – or anyone else – again.

Station 13 - Ruben is picked off the waiver wire... by no one.

Quevedo was released by the Orioles on June 19, 2004. The rest of the year was not a happy one for Rubie. According to unconfirmed rumors, he spent the rest of the baseball season hanging out in his favorite Milwaukee spots. He could often be found on highway overpasses eating Twinkies and hanging outside the McDonalds by Miller Park begging for change so he could afford “his precious.” His precious, it was later learned, was a Carmel Pecanbon from Cinnabon. He was last seen in the area rummaging around in a dumpster on the Marquette University campus just off of Kilbourn Avenue.

Station No. 14: The burial.

And we end where we began, with a reading from the Book of Juan: “… Later, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela asked the Orioles of Baltimore for what remained of Ruben Quevedo. Chavez came to Baltimore and claimed Ruben’s remains. Chavez was accompanied by Carlos Zambrano, the man who had replaced Ruben as the resident Venezuelan heavyweight on the Cubs of Chicago. In accordance with Venezuelan baseball customs, Zambrano brought a mixture of hotdogs, Old Style, peanuts, and Cracker Jacks, about 250 pounds worth. Gathering up what remained of Quevedo, the two force-fed him with the mixture and draped him in the Venezuelan flag. What remained of Ruben was then jetted back to Venezuela and taken to rest on the Calle del Hambre.”

3 comments:

Devil's Threesome said...

I had the Stubby Clapp once, picked it up from some Saigon whore

Master Reid said...

That is quite the list of names that were AAA studs at the time.

Devil's Threesome said...

I had waaay too much fun compiling that list. I added Manny Alexander just for you, Reid.