A Dodger Fan Saying Goodbye Andre Ethier
In December 2005 the Los Angeles Dodgers had a new general manager Ned Colletti and a bad team. Although in 2004, the first year that Frank McCourt owned the team, the Dodgers earned a playoff berth as the National League Western Division for the first time since 1996, they tried to assemble a Moneyball team in 2005. Besides losing 91 games in 2005, the Dodgers had lousy clubhouse chemistry, including Milton Bradley who had anger management issues and legal problems for beating his girlfriend.
Colletti, a former sportswriter in Chicago and a former member of the San Francisco Giants’ front office, traded much-troubled Bradley for an unknown clean-cut kid outfielder named Andre Ethier for his first move as a Dodger. This move would endear Colletti to Dodger fans and have lasting effects on the team.
Friday, August 3, 2018, after wearing the Dodger uniform for twelve years, Ethier retired. He never wore another Major-League uniform. Although he would have liked to play in 2018, no offer enticed him.
The only regret Ethier has is he never had another opportunity to play with his longtime teammate Matt Kemp. While a Dodger, the Phoenix native was a pillar of the Los Angeles community and developed the reputation for delivering in the clutch.
Although Ethier never received the national notoriety that he deserved, he was a two-time All-Star, a Gold Glover, and a Silver Slugger. He always had a quality at-bat against right-handed pitching while struggling against left-handed pitching.
Ethier appeared over 50 postseason games, a Dodger. He is on Dodger all-time great list in walk-off RBI, doubles, extra-base hits, and games played. His reputation for delivering in the clutch caused his teammates give him the nickname “Mr. Clutch.”
Never looking for personal glory, Ethier used his terrific eye for the strike zone to reach base. He wanted the Dodgers to win ahead of getting any personal recognition. His upbeat sometimes goofy personality made him a team favorite. Whenever he felt he needed to approach a teammate who wasn’t doing his best, he did it privately and positively. He was never involved in a scandal either on or off the field.
Ethier’s defense was underrated. He could play all three outfield positions well. Rarely, he misjudged either a flyball or hit. Not many opposing baserunners dared to try for the extra base on Ethier with his strong accurate arm. When Yasiel Puig became the Dodgers’ everyday right fielder, it displaced Ethier who had mostly played right field during his career. However, he adapted to his new position quickly.
As late as the 2015 season, he was an offensive leader for the Dodgers with .294 batting average with 14 home runs. He had a unique talent for pinch-hitting demonstrated in the late stages of his career.
For the last two seasons, injuries limited Ethier to 38 regular games. Despite being injured for most of the season, the Dodgers chose to have Ethier on their postseason rosters where he contributed both offensively and defensively.
It’s difficult for me to believe Dre Ethier is retired. Like many other Dodgers before, his on-field heroics thrilled me for many times. I suffered through his slumps. I worried about him when he suffered injuries, and I prayed all those trade rumors involving him were untrue. Either’s retirement signals the end of an era. No Dodger fan should soon forget Ethier’s impact on the team and the community or his professionalism.