Requiem for a Vinny: An Epilogue to Greatness

Right Field BleachersCorrespondent IAugust 4, 2009

Last week’s acquisition of Claudio Vargas was one met with a collective mouth fart from the Brewers faithful. That trade alone signaled the conclusion of Milwaukee’s pursuit of a top of the rotation pitcher and, to some, the front office’s surrender of the 2009 season. But to one fan, Friday’s Vargas for Vinny Rottino trade signified something entirely different—the end of an era.

I’ve made no secret of my, at times strange, but entirely heterosexual adoration of the Racine native on this site. Sure, I knew a 29-year-old, career .208 hitter, who proved himself equally ineffective at eight positions was no hero, but he was someone to pull for.

For residents of a state that considers actions like breathing deeply and standing for short periods of time to be sports, the hometown kid turned 2004 Brewers minor leaguer of the year was a figure to look up to, a man to unfairly pressure our unborn sons into one day becoming, a less talented Eric Hinske.

I’d been heavily drinking the tart and unforgiving ambrosia of Rottino backing since 2006. For me, it’s been an interesting experience harboring an unhealthy interest in the career of a marginal semi-pro athlete, one wrought in its ups, like his first Major League hit, and the downs, like his demotion to Huntsville earlier this season. But more than anything, the steady middle of lingering in Nashville, waiting tirelessly for the next promised opportunity to be delivered, and ultimately being passed over once again.

In hearing of the news of his trade, I launched into the seven stages of grief. I can only now bring myself to reveal my thoughts on that fateful day.

Stage 1: Shock and Denial
Rottino!?! No… no, that couldn’t be right. I’m sure Anthony Witrado had something to do with this report. Yeah, that’s it. Witrado.

Stage 2: Pain and Guilt
Oh Christ, the ticker is right. This hurts so much! Not only do I have to deal with the new fact Claudio Vargas is one of Milwaukee’s better pitchers now, that choad coming to town means Vinny will never be a full-time Brewers player. I should have cherished his time here. I was too busy paying off crippling student loan debt and having regular social interaction to purchase a DVR and subsequently save each of his 24 sporadic at bats… and now he’s gone. 

booger4Stage 3: Anger and Bargaining
Seriously, Doug? You finna play me like that?!? Oh never mind, I forgot Vargas was totally awesome the last time he was a Brewer. Wasn’t Johnny Estrada part of your last trade involving Vargas coming to MKE? He was cool too. Hustled, didn’t look legally dead behind the plate… great move. Doug Davis and Dana Eveland were so worth that prize package.

Why me? Is it not enough that I bear a slight resemblance to a less hot “Booger” from Revenge of the Nerds and have larger than average lips? Haven’t I been through enough? If Rottino comes back to Milwaukee, I promise I’ll never attempt to organize a stupid photo contest only two people participate in. I SWEAR IT!

Stage 4: “Depression,” Reflection, Loneliness
People don’t seem to care about this as much as I do. Some people are even making jokes about the trade. I agree, the Vargas part is really funny… but I still miss Vinny. Man, I really used to like the guy. Shit, I even personalized a Rottino shirt jersey once. Sure, it was using a gift certificate, I didn’t want anything else and I mostly did it to be funny, but there was something about that shirt that just felt right; perhaps it was the 10% Rayon blend, but maybe it was the name on the back—though it probably was the 10% Rayon blend.

Stage 5: The Upward Turn
Wait a second, Vinny was languishing in double-A and posting a sub-.250 AVG there before the trade. Maybe he’s not the answer. Actually, I won’t ponder this right now. I just remembered internet porn, binge drinking and Thai food still exist. No time to cry.

Stage 6: Reconstruction and Working Through
Maybe I don’t need to maintain a semi-serious admiration for a fledgling aged prospect. He had some good moments in the Brewers' system, the fact he worked his way up from unsigned free agent to three-time September call-up proves that. Maybe I could start looking for another longshot player to base my pathetic existence around. Maybe I’ll cut up a Rottino card and use it to make soap. Out of respect.


Better times


Stage 7: Acceptance and Hope
I’m now at peace. Vinny wasn’t in the Brewers’ long-term plans (apart from previous six-year dickaround in the minors). The fact he was traded one for one to nab a player who will serve Milwaukee on the big league level is a pretty nice parting shot—even if that  player kind of sucks turds.

Though technically a Dodger, Vinny Rottino will always remain a Brewer —especially when he accepts a minor league coaching job in the Brewers system within the next two seasons. I hope that happens. 

Goodbye Vinny and best of luck, until you return.