South Hills High's 43rd round pick is newest superstar.
Oh, scouting. It is not an exact science. Ask the guys who passed up on Mike Piazza when the kid was lifting weights to develop a chiseled body and demonstrating the kind of work ethic that legends are made of, while attending high school in Pennsylvania. Looking back, it would seem obvious that, while Mike may not have been first round material, this guy deserved a shot.
It was only because he is Tommy Lasorda's Godson that the Dodgers did his father, Vince, a favor by selecting him in the sixty-second round out of Miami Dade JC.
Remember Wes Parker? Slick-fielding All-Star first sacker, a Dodger favorite in the '60s? If you were checking this glovemeister out when he was growing up in Brentwood, you would surely figure he would help any Major League club. Not so.
Parker was a rich kid who begged his next-door neighbor, a Kansas City A's scout, to draft him. The scout told him to go to college, he could afford tuition at USC or the Ivy League, but Parker insisted, so the scout signed him as a free agent. The A's unloaded him shortly thereafter, and the Dodgers somehow landed him. The next thing they knew, Wes was winning Gold Gloves and helping the team to the 1965 World Championship.
Then, of course, you have your Todd Van Poppel's and David Clyde's. The list of great preps that never panned out after signing for the big dough is just too long and depressing to get into here. Besides, the point is made. Scouting is not an exact science!
Which brings us to Jason Giambi. Big guy, impressive, a great swing, natural athlete. Somehow 42 rounds went by before the Milwaukee Brewers saw fit to select Jason after his senior year at South Hills High School in baseball-crazy West Covina. You look at this guy mash nowadays and it seems hard to believe nobody saw the potential.
Giambi spurned the low Brewer offer and instead lit it up for coach Dave Snow at powerhouse Cal State Long Beach. Take that, he seemed to be saying of his draft snub. He was a freshman All-American and1992 Oympian. So Snow saw what others missed, right?
The 49ers' coach, considered one of the best baseball men in the country, tried to turn Giambi into a full-time pitcher, but the kid talked his way into playing full-time. That is another aspect of his makeup that somehow has been overlooked, his personality. His will to win, to succeed, to show how good he is. This guy is a competitor.
With all due respect to the baseball intelligentsia who did not see greatness in the high school versions of Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Giambi, and others like them, one must take into account what weight training and, uh, supplements have done to make some players stronger and better.
Giambi is a hard-charger. He likes to party, the chicks dig him, and the dude is livin' large in Oakland and on the road. However, he works hard, too. He puts in the time, and it has paid off. Giambi was the starting first baseman for the American League All-Star team last year before winning the MVP award., hitting .334 with 78 RBIs, a .624 slugging percentage, a .474 on-base percentage, and78 walks. He is the biggest reason Oakland won their division, and at this point he is as good a choice as anybody for league MVP, an award his good friend (former teammate and fellow East San Gabriel Valley product) McGwire has never garnered.
Furthermore, the 6-3, 235-pound Giambi is playing alongside his talented brother, Jeremy, a Cal State Fullerton product, who in a few years could be matching numbers with his Jason. For now, however, Jason is The Man in Oakland, where he shared an East Bay apartment with his bro before getting hitched The two live in--oh, this is rich--Las Vegas in the off-season. SoCal Giambi has the casual, inside-knowledge insouciance of a New Yorker, and has been known to intimate that some members of his Italian clan are, well, connected. Whether they are or not, no one is saying, but Jason just loves that kind of thing. He is flashy, drives a Lamborghini, and after 2001 could be one of the highest-paid athletes in the world. Still, he is not money-hungry, as evidenced by the fact that signed for less than market value ($10 million for three years) to stay with the potential-dynasty A's after the 1998 season.
Giambi actually follows in the tradition of another former Oakland Athletic, Canseco, in that he commands a lot of attention, not always for his on-field activities, but he seems to be handling everything pretty well. Party on, man.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism