Dave Hodges

More About: Entertainment: Sports

Going, Going, Gonzo

Arizona will soon bid farewell to one of its most beloved treasures, left-fielder (#20) Louis Gonzalez. Affectionately called Gonzo by hundreds of thousands Diamondback baseball fans, Louis will soon be calling a yet-to-be-determined site, home, for the 2007 baseball season.

Louis Gonzalez, the good-guy poster child of the Arizona Diamondbacks, seemed just too good to be true. The proud father of triplets is the type of franchise player that every owner should aspire to have as the face of their organization. He is well-spoken, humble beyond belief and a role model for every aspiring major leaguer. He always took the time to sign autographs and had a kind word for everyone he encountered.

Gonzo never had the superstar ego which is why Joe Six Pack, you and I could identify with him. He was just one of the good guys as he dazzled us with one of the most amazing consecutive hitting streaks in major league baseball history. He was so humble, so human that we believed that we were rooting for our neighbor instead of a major league icon. Parents were not afraid to let their kids idolize Gonzo because everybody knew that he would not betray their trust.

I recently told my 5½ year old son that Gonzo would not be playing for the Diamondbacks after this season. Right out of the mouth of babes, my son said "It looks like the Diamondbacks don't want to win anymore" and, "We will still cheer for Gonzo." Is there anyone that feels any different? To the Gonzo detractors that say that he can't play anymore, let me point out that at age 39, he became the oldest player in baseball history to hit over 50 doubles in a season.

Gonzo deserves to retire in Arizona and have a tear-filled ceremony as his retired jersey is hoisted to the rafters. Unfortunately, there is not a Jerry Colangelo left to ensure that Gonzo gets the proper send off.

Goodwill and loyalty are just as much of a franchise's worth than the infamous bottom line. This is something that former Diamondback owner, Jerry Colangelo, understood very well which is why he was able to assemble a multitude of talented free-agent laden teams which experienced tremendous success. New Diamondback owners Moab, Kendrick and Byrnes have yet to learn how to treat their products as human beings. Their depersonalized approach to managing their franchise has turned off the community. Most fans do not root for the uniform; they root for players like Gonzo. As an aside, the new owners are erasing the last memories of Jerry Colangelo by changing the color of the Diamondback uniforms. May I suggest a bright yellow stripe right down the middle of the back in honor of Moab economics?

I knew that when Moab said we will try and work things out with Gonzo, it was not going to happen. Moab (aka Arliss Michaels) reminds me of the old saying that "If you want to look honest, just stand next to a former sports agent!"

How many mid-career, superstar free agents do you think are going to want finish their careers in Arizona? Do not think that baseball is not watching the unceremonious manner in which Gonzo is being shown the door. As the Diamondbacks have fallen from the elite in baseball, their place in baseball mediocrity is being guaranteed with Diamondback's General Managing Partner, Moab, and his treatment of Gonzo.

Jerry Colangelo built two very successful sports franchises because he understood how to treat people. Moab and company cannot get their noses out of the debit and credit columns long enough to appreciate the human worth of the franchise they acquired through a palace coup when they ousted Jerry Colangelo.

Moab and Arizona Secretary of State, Jan Brewer, have something in common as they both possess a demonstrated ability of not being able to accurately count. Brewer refuses to hand-count the votes of our citizens and Moab cannot accurately count the multitude of fans permanently exiting from Chase Field. Ten million dollars to Gonzo or suffer an empty stadium? Penny wise and pound foolish could best describe Moab's economic philosophy toward the Diamondbacks.

Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Tony Womack, Byung Hyun Kim, Damian Miller, Mark Grace, Steve Finley, Danny Bautista and soon Craig Counsell……. All are gone, regardless of talent or contribution in order to meet the bottom line. Amazingly, after the Diamondback fire sale of talent, following the ouster of Colangelo, Moab made Bob Brenly the fall guy for the won-loss failure of Moab economics. Meet the new Arizona Cardinals, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Moab or Bidwill? At least Bidwill is active in charities which benefit our community.

There have not been many "big plays" in Arizona sports history. Yet, Gonzo owns the distinction of making the most important sports play in history of this State. His ninth inning single to drive in the winning run in the seventh game of the World Series, against the Yankees, will always stand as Arizona's most important individual sports play. Yet, his biggest contribution to the team and the community was just being Louis Gonzalez. He is a class act and a great baseball player.

In the next week when Gonzo plays his last game as a Diamondback, don't forget to take a long look. Gonzo is one of the last of his kind! A class act!!!

Thank you Gonzo!

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