The reason I revisited the 1991 Texas Rangers earlier today was because my favorite sports podcast “Hang Up and Listen” had asked its listeners about their favorite non-famous athletes. I wrote in to tell them about Mario Diaz, who was the backup to the weakest starting player on the ’91 Rangers. Still, he was our favorite because his name was Mario, he had a moustache, wasn’t all that good, it was 1991, and he looked like this:
Does this look like another guy named Mario who was much much more famous in 1991? How about:
Of course we made a sign that said Super Mario Land for our bleacher seats. And of course Mario wasn’t super, but we did learn to love Mario Diaz. In fact, while Goose Gossage held on to a 0.00 ERA for a shockingly long time that year despite giving up other pitchers’ runs making him less valuable than he seemed, Diaz seemed to be really clutch. His only hits seemed to come at important times. Perhaps the advanced metrics (which didn’t exist at the time) wouldn’t bear out our biases, but he was valuable to us. His only home run that year remains tied for the most thrilling (to me) sports moment I’ve witnessed live. The other being Carli Lloyd’s 50 yard goal in the World Cup final to secure her hat trick.
Anyway, Josh Levin read my entry in Hang Up and Listen today. It starts around the 51:50 minute mark here: https://megaphone.link/SM7055772242