Friday, June 15, 2007

The Alternative Level of Excellence – Garth Iorg


When it comes to funny names, stupid batting stances, and being at the centre of our greatest moment of Blue Jays heartbreak, few can hold a candle to Garth Iorg.

Iorg was a mainstay of the Blue Jays lineup throughout their emergence in the 1980’s, mostly sharing third base duties with the vastly superior Rance Mullinicks (back when Jimy Williams seemed to want a left-right platoon at every position on the diamond.). He was also a place holder at second in 1987, bridging the gap between the illustrious Damaso Garcia era and the incomparable Manny Lee era.

Iorg stuck around so long that in our memory, we figured he must have brought something to table. And then we looked at the numbers.

In nine MLB seasons, all with Toronto, Iorg hit 20 homers, drove in 238 and put up a lilliputian .639 OPS. Iorg had his best season 1985, putting up an .827 OPS, hitting seven homers and driving in 37 in 288 ABs.

For us, the lasting image of Garth Iorg will always be his last major league at bat versus Frank Tanana in the final game of that painfully fateful 1987 season. Trailing 1-0 with two out in the ninth, and having squandered a 3 ½ game lead in the final week of the season by losing six in a row, Iorg was the Jays last hope.

We can’t tell you how many times this scene has played out in our heads. Not even back-to-back World Series championships have managed to ease our pain.

The "ground out 1-3" scoring play can’t begin to describe what a feeble tapper Iorg dribbled a few feet in front of the plate. Coming out of his dubious extreme leanback stance, Iorg waved his bat so weakly at the ball, we could have sworn it was made of fine crystal. And with that, the hopes of a nation and the postseason aspirations of one of the finest Blue Jays teams ever assembled were dashed.

And so, for breaking our hearts, for his ability to stick in the Majors in the face of his almost unrivalled mediocrity, and for his ridiculously unsound hitting technique, The Tao of Stieb hereby enshrines Garth Iorg onto the Alternative Level of Excellence.

(Thanks to all who’ve made suggestions as to who should receive our dubious little honour. We’ve got ideas for future inducements, but feel free to make your case, either in the comments or by hitting us with them here.)

1 comment:

Drew said...

God bless the mulliniorg platoon. Every good platoon needs a nickname. Last year's freed johnsolonatto was the best I could muster.