An Ode to the MLR's Octavio Dotel
The Milwaukee Brewers GM was in a panic just one week ago. Jameson Poe had just retired from the league, and backup pitcher Ambiorix Madhavapeddy had not shown up to any practices. The team, who once boasted the pitching mastery of Dan Gerzone with compliments from Ron Swanson, was now in danger of entering Session 13 without an arm. All they had was G.H. Morello, a natural shortstop with minor pitching experience.
Kevin Arianna sat in his office that day with a phone pressed firmly to his cheek. He was not going to leave Miller Park until he found an arm to replace those he lost, or those that were missing. As the day wound down with no luck, he arrived on one final number: The Texas Rangers GM Rabbi Chase.
An hour later, Sonny Streaker was officially a Milwaukee Brewer once more.
"He has a history in Milwaukee and when I had the chance to trade for him I took it," explains the Milwaukee GM. "We needed a pitcher and he knew our culture and was familiar with our team. He seemed like the right man for the job."
The career of Sonny Streaker is possibly one of the most fascinating in the MLR's short history. By all accounts, he was never considered a good pitcher. In fact, he drew a lot of ire from the fake baseball community, specifically Minnesota and New York fans. He was in the center of both franchises' Dark Ages. As the 2017-18 season began, things were not looking up for the young pitcher. Columnist Jack Bing urged the newly-rebranded Brewers to rebrand themselves with a new pitcher.
They did, in the form of Dan Gerzone. Sonny Streaker was relegated to being a secondary, mainly-bullpen arm. His struggles continued. In a fierce contest with the division-rival St. Louis Cardinals, Streaker gave up strong leads twice in extra innings. The game was a turning point for both the Cardinals and the Brewers. After this game, it was the end of an era: Streaker was promptly traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Why did the Phillies need Streaker? It was after an unfortunate happenstance. Around that time, the Phillies iconic Cy Hadd had passed away, and they needed an arm to replace him. General Manager J.A. Bird and Milwaukee skipper Master Cashier settled on a small trade, the shipping of a lottery ticket for the troubled arm. Just like that, Streaker found himself on his third team. It was where the spiral began.
Sonny Streaker became the poster child for necessity, for filling holes more than longterm option. The Phillies found a more permanent fix in the Giants' Owen Uridge, and promptly shipped Streaker to San Francisco as a minor player in a deal that included Hunter Tuzero.
He didn't pitch a single major league game for the Giants. One minor league start later, and the Indians were in need of a reliable secondary arm. Off to Cleveland he went, where he once again was never given a major league chance. That game against the Cardinals scarred his reputation, and his 2017-18 ERA was sitting well over 9, stewing as session after session passed.
Streaker would get his chance, however. In came Rabbi Chase, the Texas GM. The Rangers had been at the bad-end of poor pitching depth through their entire inaugural season, giving the brunt of their throwing to Superbone Threefinger. The Cy Young caliber hurler was not a bad guy to rely on, but after a few rough starts, it was clear he was getting tired out there. Not a single pitcher had more info to scout than Superbone Threefinger. His IP was miles ahead of the next competitor, Sal Shark. It was clear Chase needed a secondary pitcher for the sake of his team's playoff chances.
"We needed an arm," the Texas GM states. "Once he went on waivers, I knew I had to have him."
The Indians waved Sonny Streaker, and the Rangers bit. Just as soon, however, the Phillies claimed with priority, wanting a second go. When the waiver time had allotted, neither team had gotten the claim. The Washington Nationals, with the lowest priority in the league, got him.
Shortly thereafter, the Nationals traded Streaker to the Rangers. It was the plan all along. Streaker, months out of his last major league start, had arrived in his best chance at another.
It wasn't granted the next session. On Session 10, however, a full 6 sessions after his last major league appearance, Streaker was back on the mound. The Padres were his first enemy, and all of Redditball was watching.
He got two outs before facing Forehead Jones. The feared Padres slugger sent him crashing to reality with a 2-run bomb. The Padres would win the game, Streaker responsible for 4 earned runs. It wasn't the most triumphant return, and his old legacy seemed to all but disappear. It would be his only start for the Texas Rangers.
Which is where Arianna came in.
Session 13 was a pivotal moment for the Milwaukee Brewers, trying to keep up playoff esteem with a brand new look. They called for Streaker to appear on the mound. Streaker never came. G.H. Morello ended up pitching the game, and the MLR world bowed their heads on what was likely to be the final game in a long, storied career. Shortly after Morello was called out to the mound, Arianna announced a trade for the Phillies' Harvey Bargeparge.
Sonny Streaker has been one of my favorite players. It's not exactly due to his skill level or dominance, but because of what he represents to a league like this. He is a journeyman, a guy whose activity has kept him relevant and even celebrated. Streaker should have left a long time ago, but he stayed in the scene and brought out some of the coolest moves in MLR transactional history. He is a guy who teams acquire on strategy, on a need and a simple way to fix this need. He's been just as important to this league as anyone else.
This is an ode to Sonny Streaker. I hope to see him pitch again someday.