Thursday, September 04, 2008


Welcome to the Party, Pal

Scott McClain earned a well-deserved call-up when rosters expanded the other day, and he made the most of the opportunity by smacking his first major league home run in yesterday's game. For a feat accomplished by an obscure 36-year-old rookie, it's garnering plenty of headlines.

For those who don't know, McClain was drafted in 1990 by the Orioles, and since that point his career has been an odyssey of home run heroics through the farm systems of the Orioles, Mets, Devil Rays, Rockies, Cubs, A's, and Giants, and also through the Japanese leagues. He's smacked 362 home runs over the course of his professional career, making him sort of a, yes, as cliche as it sounds, real life Crash Davis. This season was his second with the Fresno Grizzlies, and he ripped to the tune of .300/.388/.553.

Why has McClain never been given an extended chance in the major leagues?

(looks around frantically for help)

Well, you're asking the wrong person, because I have no friggin' idea. Sure, McClain is a long-in-the-tooth 36 while destroying AAA pitching, but he was doing exactly the same thing when he was 24. While the Devil Rays were bumbling around with charred veteran corpses in the late-90's, McClain was bashing 30-plus home runs for their AAA affiliate. While the Giants have been busying themselves with a clothespin-over-nose parade of has-beens and never-will-bes at first base the past couple of years, McClain has been hitting 30-plus homers for their AAA team.

It sucks, but quite often a guy like McClain will get stuck with a Quad-A label and those are just not easy to shake. Just ask Jack Cust or Val Pascucci. Unfortunately, as often is the case, many teams simply mistake lack of opportunity as lack of skill. I mean, come on, McClain has had 50, count 'em, 50 major league at-bats. Does that constitute a true window for McClain to show off his ability? Hell no. In a world where Ross Gload and Miguel Cairo hold down starting first base jobs, how is this fair?

Anyway, raise a glass in honor of McClain and his long, arduous path to major league home run number one. Lefty Malo wonders whether the Giants will retain McClain as a corner-utility guy next season in lieu of re-signing Rich Aurilia. That would be awesome, and McClain has certainly earned a shot at this kind of role and he would probably hit better than The Goateed One, but I wouldn't bet on this happening. More likely, the Giants just go with their usual "evil we know" strategy and McClain continues to wither away in the minors, holding some flavor of the month's dick in the bus leagues, to quote the great Crash.

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