People always talk about the next great savior of any given team. Less often do we talk about the ones who got away, whether through free agency or trades.
If you've watched SportsCenter in the last five years, you've certainly heard the anchors sarcastically say "Former Red Sox Great" or "Former Celtics Great," a dig at the way in which Boston sports fans put our athletes on a pedestal.
This is true. Whether the former Red Sox player is Babe Ruth or Willy Mo Pena, every player has his fans.
I'm a sucker for unorthodox pitching deliveries, so I was drawn to Masterson right away. Even though he was just an average pitcher with the Sox, if he had stuck around, maybe we wouldn't be forced to watch John Lackey once every five days.
Here's four other players from my era (sorry Babe Ruth) that I wish were still around.
Bronson Arroyo epitomized everything "chill" about the mid-Aughts Boston Red Sox. His dreadlocks, his high leg kick, being slapped by Alex Rodriguez, they all seemed to fit his quirky, musical self just perfectly.
The fact that the Red Sox gave up Arroyo for Willy Mo Pena is beyond me (you'll notice his ugly swing is absent from this list). Arroyo has developed into a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy and, as with Masterson, is probably better than John Lackey right now.
Arroyo also lives in International League lore as one of just four players to throw a perfect game in 121 years.
As a fellow below-average hitter for most of my baseball career, I always admired the way Pokey Reese managed to find playing time through his ultra-suave fielding at second base and shortstop.
I'll always maintain that Pokey Reese actually made the best play of the day during that game when Derek Jeter "flew" into the stands. But of course he's Derek Jeter, so he gets all the attention.
Unfortunately, the 2004 Boston Red Sox World Series run was the end of Pokey's career. He never played another game in the MLB.
But he lives on, on my back, at every Red Sox game I attend. I'm too lazy to buy a new shirt.
Forget for a second that the Boston Red Sox might not have won the 2004 World Series had Nomar Garciaparra not been traded.
Remember his hitting, his routines and his flash. Garciaparra was the perfect baseball role model for a young kid at the time. While we all wanted to look cool on the field and have our own style, we knew that it ultimately looked cooler to produce. Garciaparra showed us that we could do both.
I don't remember much about Troy O'Leary's game. I remember that he was a lefty and hit with a slightly open stance (though you could easily convince me otherwise). I remember that I used to think he was fat and didn't belong on a baseball field, but the picture above suggests that I confused fatness with chest girth. I just liked his name.
He's also the namesake for the now-defunct Quincy Andyball League's Lions of O'Leary. Long live O'Leary!