Fallen Bird Rises in L.A.

August 24, 2010 |

The last time Jay Gibbons was in the greater Baltimore area, he was playing for the independent Atlantic League Newark Bears when they took on the York Revolution (slogan: “REVOLUTION!”).
The former “future star” for the Orioles had sunk below the minor league system.

Now in his 30s and having trouble hitting (fielding was never Gibby’s “thing”), the redheaded lefty was an unlikely candidate to be protecting Manny Ramirez as a cleanup hitter any time soon.

Yet, that’s exactly what he was doing Saturday night, batting fourth for the L.A. Dodgers and helping his new club with a 2 for 3 performance and a home run. The Gibbons-led Dodgers (63-62) defeated the Reds 8-5.

Prior to his recent call-up, Gibbons hadn’t had a major league at bat since the inglorious finale of the 2007, in which he hit .230 as an Oriole. Plagued by steroid scandal and without a position in the field, Gibbons was cut prior to the ’08 season.

He split the next two seasons between the Atlantic League’s Bears and Long Island Ducks and in the Florida Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers’ minor league systems. But it wasn’t until he tore up the Dodger’s AAA Albuquerque affiliate that Gibbons earned his chance to return to the bigs.

As a Dodger, Gibbons has been primarily used as a pinch hitter thus far. He is hitting .400 with 2 homers. During his time as an Oriole, Gibby complained when he was relegated to the bench and never had success as a PH. If he has learned how to hit off the bench during his time in the baseball wilderness, he may have new life as a pinch hitter in the National League.

Gibbons, 33, was never a “sad story” by most measures. He made millions of dollars hitting a ball with a bat and he cheated to get better at doing so. Fans feigned disgust at his steroid usage, but really was chased out of town due to poor play, not poor morals.

It is perhaps fitting, though, that as bloated, arrogant jerkface Roger Clemens faces federal charges, one of the least distinguished Mitchell Report members makes an unlikely return to the majors. Maybe Jay Gibbons could give Mr. Clemens a lesson in humility. He’s probably learned plenty of it these last few seasons.

Good luck, Gibby. I’ll be rooting for you. I mean, why not?