I've actually sat at my computer for the past two hours looking at a blank screen trying to figure out how to exactly put into words at how absolutely heartbroken I am to hear that former Nationals closer Chad "The Chief" Cordero is retiring from baseball. I just can't find the words. It is like being a child too shy to go up to your favorite baseball player and ask for his autograph mixed with the feelings of not wanting to say goodbye to an old friend.
What more can I really say or add to what has already been an outpouring of emotion, well wishes and "Please come back to D.C!" from the good citizens of NatsTown on the blogs and social media sites? Are there any more stats that I can post that the mainstream media hasn't already printed to death, like Cordero continues to lead the franchise in single season saves with 47 and overall franchise saves at 113 - I like that one the best.
Do I even have to mention the fist pump? Visions of Cordero pumping his fist, his slightly pudgy body firming up to deliver a rapid act of arm violence in response to a big play are burned in plenty of memories already. Then there was: the hat. The Chief never went to work without his headdress, a crisp, blood-red Nationals cap with a snow white Curly W and a flat brim that looked as sharp as a blade. You got the feeling if a ball was hit back to the mound at his head he could split it in two with a head butt. It was a style that started a revolution. I am a flat-brim Nats cap wearer and is it fate that the next generation of Nationals closer in Drew Storen also sports the flat brim?
Did you know Cordero had an action figure? Yes sir, he did. He was the first National to be commemorated as a McFarlane Toy sports action figure. No. 32 was chiseled into a Greek god made out of the finest plastic, although he was missing a true flat brim and his face was a little droopy. Still, what an honor. Ryan Zimmerman has been waiting for years for someone to design his.
I feel like I don't need to put down some of his more memorable moments. Cordero did have the first Nationals save when they moved to RFK Stadium in 2005 and the last Nationals save at RFK in 2007. To earn that last save at RFK he had to strike out a Philadelphia Phillies player to secure the win. That player was Jayson Werth in one of baseball's little ironies. Cordero was named to the All-Star Game in 2005 and he tied the major league record for saves in one month with 15 while winning the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award. You don't need to hear from this me. You know this.
You also probably know about his injuries, his problems and ultimate betrayal by former general manager Jim Bowden and his attempts to continue playing the game in his short times with the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. You probably also shed a tear with me when you read about the tragic death of his daughter and were reminded that those guys on the playing field are all too human.
You join me now in a little bit of sadness at his retirement so I have absolutely no idea what to write here. What can I put in this space that hasn't already been written by someone? How can I honor the man that was a Washington National before it was cool to be a Washington National? The guy was already a star when Zimmerman formed out of a black hole. He was one of my favorite Nationals of all time and it is shameful I can't put one word down about him. I can't tell you about what a class act he was, how humble he was in a world of narcissists and what a joy it was to watch him pitch, even in cardiac moments. I can't tell you how much I hope we one day see him again in D.C. He leaves me speechless like those who struck out on his pitches. Watching Cordero was like a reminder of why you loved the game of baseball.
Perhaps that is it. Perhaps that is what I can say about Chad Cordero: He made you really love the game and it took a special man behind the special player to make that happen.
Farewell, flat-brim warrior. Farewell.
Drew Kinback blogs about the Nats at Nationals Inquisition, and has given his take this week as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.