Today, in my everyday life, I took a delivery to my favorite customers of all time, a group of folks I have worked directly with for over ten years. In that time, I have become very good friends with the associate director of the group, and have gained the admiration and respect of the director as well as all of the other employees. Since I am moving, this was the last order that I will ever work with them on, and they wanted to show their appreciation to me.
It’s a lifesaving group. As in literal lifeguards for the University here. A bunch of the lifeguards were there to say goodbye. The associate director gave me plenty of hugs, and he and the director took me out on the rescue boat and went on a cruise around the lake for about an hour, kind of a farewell and thank you for my having gone above and beyond for them over the years.
It’s a satisfying feeling when you know that you have done a great job and that you will be missed by a group of people because of the work you did for them.
I say this because in two different clubhouses, in two different cities on opposite sides of the country, people are feeling this way about two guys who were traded for each other today.
The Phillies traded veteran catcher Carlos (Chooch) Ruiz to the Dodgers for another well loved veteran catcher, A.J. Ellis.There were some cash considerations and a couple other players involved, but really, at its heart this trade is about two catchers, two cities, and what they mean to people.
My Philly friends are devastated. First they lose Chase Utley, and then Cole Hamels, and now Chooch. It seems that this was the cruelest cut of all. My Twitter timeline was a sea of mourning from the Philly Phaithful. Guys from the team, as well as 2008 legends, were all in shock for lack of a better term.
Chooch isn’t the catcher he used to be, but he was the backbone of one of the finest teams of the late oughts. Remember, he worked with – and worked with very well – one of the greatest rotations in modern baseball history in the Four Aces of Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Oswalt. Chooch caught no hitters. He caught future Hall of Famers. He caught the final out from Brad Lidge to win the 2008 World Series.
In Los Angeles, things are a little different, but it’s like looking in a funhouse mirror. A.J. Ellis is also not the catcher he used to be, and he doesn’t have the kind of pedigree that Chooch has, but he is well loved by fans and teammates alike, plus he has the distinct honor of being the personal catcher of the greatest pitcher of this generation, one Clayton Kershaw.
Of course, there was an LA sort of shock buzzing around social media as well.
To be loved for what you do, and who you are, and having that be what makes you special is a rare and precious gift. Let’s hope that Philly and L.A. will accept and welcome Ellis and Chooch into their lives with open arms and not hold the fact that they aren’t the other against them.