Remember the Friendly Giant?
It was a Canadian television classic, aired daily on CBC for 27 years until 1985.
There wasn’t much of a premise or plot to the show. Each episode started with a voice saying “Look up, look waaaaaay up.” The camera then found a huge giant (played by Bob Homme). He lived in a castle and talked to his friends Rusty the Rooster and Jerome the Giraffe. He played recorder. They sang songs. Then the sun went down and the drawbridge closed and the show ended.
It was amazing.
Well, the Toronto Blue Jays will be paying homage to the Friendly Giant in the 2011 season. The club made it official on Monday by signing Jon Rauch to a $3.5-million contract.
OK, so there are no official ties to the Jays and the kids show. I made it up.
But there will be one thing in common with the team and the show. Blue Jays players, fans, and media will have to look up, look waaaaaay up when talking with the new reliever.
Rauch is listed at 6 feet 11 inches, making him not only the tallest player in Blue Jays history, but the tallest player in MLB history.
Judging by his career numbers it looks like he gains a definite advantage with his height. A 3.71 ERA and 1.24 WHIP point to that. But he was even better last season with the Twins. Named closer after Joe Nathan was lost for the season, Rauch saved 21 games with a 3.12 ERA and his 3.29 K/BB ratio nearly doubled Kevin Gregg’s.
Rauch will be in the mix for the closer role with the Jays, along with Octavio Dotel, Chad Cordero, and maybe Jason Frasor and David Purcey. The fact that he can literally look down at each of them could give him the early edge.
The previous holder of “Tallest Blue Jay” was also a relief pitcher, Mark Hendrickson (6’9″), who was a member of the bullpen in 2002 and 2003. Similarly, right behind Hendrickson comes two more relievers, both a part of the same 1999 “Tallest Bullpen” ever: Graeme Lloyd (6’8″) and Tom Davey (6’7″). Hopefully Rauch has more success than that trio.
On the short side, the two shortest players to ever suit up for the Jays are pretty much the EXACT same player. Both are infielders, both are known as being scrappy, and both were pesty, contact hitters. David Eckstein (5’7″) and Craig Grebeck (5’8″) would have looked like children next to Rauch.
And they, like the rest of us in 2011, will have to look up, look waaaaaay up to see him.