2015 Phillies Report Card: Luis Garcia
This is Luis Garcia. There are many like him, but this one plays for the Phillies.
Because his is such a common name, and because I think y’all would notice if I just copy-and-pasted Corinne’s entire Elvis Araujo writeup, I’m going to figure out where Garcia ranks–not among relief pitchers, but among Luis Garcias.
Wikipedia lists 24 people named Luis Garcia. Here they are, in order of coolness.
Most of the Luis Garcias are athletes–specifically, either baseball or soccer players–so people who do real life things stand out. Fernando Luis Garcia, a U.S. Marine private first class, was awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in the Korean War. Now, before we get to the heavy stuff, I’d like to say that “conspicuous gallantry” is one of my favorite phrases in the English language. Also, that PFC Garcia got a class of U.S. Navy frigates named after him, which is even cooler than the phrase “conspicuous gallantry.”
Here’s why. On Sept. 5, 1952, Garcia was holding down a forward outpost under artillery fire when he went to retrieve grenades from a supply dump. He was wounded in the process, and when an enemy grenade fell nearby, he fell on it, saving another Marine at the cost of his own life. That’s some John 15:13-level stuff, folks, and it’s tough to beat that playing baseball.
Played 22 years in various Latin American leagues from 1949 to 1971. He collected more than 3,000 professional hits and was something of a legendary figure in his native Venezuela until his death in 2014 at the age of 84. Other athletes on this list played at higher levels of competition, but this Luis Garcia–who’s a member of four different baseball Halls of Fame–seems much cooler than the rest.
Spanish film director. I’ve never seen any of his movies, but people seemed to have liked him well enough. I imagine “successful European film director” is not a bad life to lead.
This is the man who inspired me to create this list, because every time someone brought up the Phillies pitcher, I had to stop and remind myself that they weren’t talking about the guy who played for Liverpool. (He played the full 120 minutes in the 2005 Champions League Final, which is one of the more memorable soccer games of the past 15-20 years.) Garcia also played for Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and the Spanish national team, which he represented in the 2006 World Cup.
Most recently, he returned to Liverpool to make sangria for his former teammate Didi Hamann, for reasons that are not entirely clear to me.
Mexican winger/striker whose 16-year professional career took him to Atletico Madrid, Real Zaragoza and nine international tournaments for the Mexican national team, including two World Cups, the Atlanta Olympics, and a win in the 1996 Gold Cup. This guy was legit–148 league goals and 79 international caps put him comfortably above most of the other soccer players on this list.
This is our guy. And it’s hard, even after three years, not to marvel at how he went from out of baseball to the majors in just a few months. It is as much a testament to the Phillies’ scouting staff as it is evidence that not a lot of people can throw hard and spin a breaking ball, but if you can, someone will give you a shot in the big leagues.
Garcia, in his first full big league season, was durable and reliably average, which is really all you want from a middle reliever at this point in the Phillies’ life cycle, because for as deservedly excited as we are about Jerad Eickhoff and Aaron Nola, (and Ken Giles on the back end) they’re still younger guys you don’t really want to overextend to try to win 67 games instead of 63. Therefore–and Garcia feels like the ninth pitcher I’ve written this about in the past year–having someone who can just come in for an inning and move the game along without getting blown up is of paramount importance for a pitching staff that’s constructed the way the Phillies have constructed theirs. So Garcia isn’t magical–he walks way too many guys, for starters–but he took the field 72 times this year, leading all Phillies relievers in appearances, and put up a 113 ERA+. That’s an outstanding result, in the big picture, for a guy the Phillies almost literally signed off the street.
Compared to other Luis Garcias (Luises Garcia?), our Luis Garcia measures up extremely well, not only for his colorful backstory, but because–improbably, for someone with as common a name as his–throwing 112 league-average innings in your major league career probably makes you the best Luis Garcia in baseball history.
It’s not impossible that I’ve been overrating Liverpool’s Luis Garcia for years because I keep getting him mixed up with this dude. This Luis Garcia has also been capped for Spain, though never in a major tournament. His most notable achievements came with Espanyol, with whom he won the Copa del Rey in 2006 and reached the final of the 2007 UEFA Cup, which is a de facto Iberian championship because nobody except Spanish and Portuguese teams takes that tournament seriously. Espanyol might have won the cup if Luis Garcia hadn’t missed his penalty in the shootout. Still, his career as a whole is good enough to overcome that particular bit of unclutchness.
A Guatemalan race walker and four-time Olympian and bronze medalist at the 2003 Pan American Games. For all the bullshit the IOC pulls, the Olympics themselves are just the coolest thing, and in my mind, an Olympic medal is the coolest trophy you can win. Even though Garcia didn’t win anything at the Olympics, he still got to go four times, which is almost as cool as being a European film director.
The former boss of La Liga side Getafe, this Luis Garcia has already amassed quite a coaching resume by the age of 42. Though after getting canned at Getafe, he decided to coach a club in the UAE called Baniyas, which…oh my God, I found Royston Drenthe, you guys! Royston Drenthe bumps this dude up two spots in our rankings.
Competed in the 1960 and 1968 Olympics for Venezuela, but did not win any medals. What I said about the Olympics before goes double if you get there for some obscure sport that’s only contested in the Olympics because the rules were set by a 19th-century French aristocrat.
A recently retired, though not particularly notable, Spanish goalkeeper. Earns full marks for playing most of his career in La Liga.
31-year-old midfielder for Club Tijuana in Liga MX, whose list of professional accomplishments puts me to sleep. But at least he’s in the first division.
A first baseman whose career has taken him to two World Baseball Classics, the Mexican League, and AAA in several organizations, but never to the major leagues. He was briefly a two-way player in rookie ball for the Red Sox and has 359 total professional home runs.
More than 1,500 professional games played, more than 1,600 professional hits, of which six games and one hit came in MLB, for the Baltimore Orioles in 2002. The modal outcome is failure.
Played and managed in Spanish soccer–mostly in the second division–for the past 23 years.
A Dominican shortstop with a similar career arc to Luis Carlos Garcia. Also one major league hit.
Former Miami Beach fire chief and current Florida state legislator. I can’t discern through his list of legislative accomplishments–such as they are–whether he’s conspicuously good or bad at being a state representative, and so my distaste for state and local government in general is only just outweighed by my distaste for dying in a fire.
A 22-year-old Ecuadorian striker for Barcelona. No, not that Barcelona–there’s another club in Ecuador called Barcelona, which, unlike the Argentinean team called Arsenal, is in fact a direct homage to its more famous European namesake. He gets bumped up for the clever bit of misdirection.
A Colombian politician in the 1960s and 1970s. Gets a big shrug from me, except he served in the cabinet of President Julio Cesar Turbay. Turbay seemed like a decent enough dude, except he married his niece, which is weird as hell, and while I don’t think Garcia had anything to do with that, I can’t think of him without thinking of the president marrying his niece, so he loses points here.
A Mexican tennis player with a one-line Wikipedia entry, which says he got to the third round of the U.S. Open in 1966 and 1967. A couple early-round defeats in pre-Open Era tennis? Deeply unimpressive. I have no idea why this guy even has a Wikipedia page.
Goalkeeper who plays for Deportivo Tepic in Mexico’s second tier, on loan from Queretaro, Jonathan Bornstein’s team. In other words, this guy is a full division worse than Jonathan Bornstein.
Another second-division Mexican soccer player. The difference is that Luis Manuel is a 22-year-old goalie who’s there on loan for experience, while Luis Francisco is a 28-year-old midfielder, which means his peak is “worse than Jonathan Bornstein.”
An American actor. He has three IMDB credits, the most recent of which is as the son of the title character on George Lopez.
Former president of Bolivia, currently serving a 30-year sentence in a Brazilian jail for human rights violations. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that being a literal dicator who engages in drug trafficking and has political rivals assassinated is worse than being on George Lopez.