Rarely are my blog entry pictures worthy of the "center" and "normal sized" formatting. Usually I just tuck them up in the left hand corner of the page so that my introductory paragraph doesn't have to take up quite as much space. When the subject is Matt Stairs though, exceptions must be made. Throughout his career, Stairs has always garnered my praise because he is an inspiration to fat athletes everywhere. However, over the last two years he has quickly become my favorite player on the Phillies and one of my favorites of all time. I am certain that after reading this article you will become hooked as well.
The first thing that you need to know about Matt Stairs is that he is from Canada. In a country dominated by lacrosse and hockey players, Stairs chose to play baseball. For this he immediately deserves our praise. He had the courage to stand up against his oppressors and play an unpopular sport. He played it well and soon enough the scouts were knocking down his door.
After playing for Canada in the Olympics, Stairs was signed by the Montreal Expos in 1991. After a few years in the minors and a short stint in Japan he was finally signed by the Expos big club in late 1993. Almost immediately he was sold to the Red Sox and sent down to Double A. After spending the whole 1994 season in the minors, he was called up to the Red Sox in 1995 and appeared in 39 games. In the offseason he signed with Oakland and was finally able to make a name for himself. In 1998 he finished 17th in a dogfight for AL MVP after hitting .258 with 38 tall jacks and 102 RBIs. A few years later the A's totally dissed him by trading him to the Cubs for some dude named Eric Ireland. Since Oakland, Stairs has played for 8 other teams including Chicago, Milwaukee, Texas, Detroit, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Toronto. Stairs stuck it out with some dreadful clubs because he knew his time to shine would come.
In 2008 Stairs was traded to the Phillies as they geared up for their playoff run. I for one was pumped. If you have never seen Matt Stairs swing a bat, you must. When he gets to the plate he is thinking one thing: jimmy jack. Stairs waits for a fastball count and then swings as hard as he can. When he connects, it makes you want to cry it is so beautiful. Full extension of his arms along with full protrusion of his gut make for a truly epic swing. I have often described him as less of a man and more of a god. His go ahead 2 run homer in the NLCS last year was easily the greatest home run I have ever witnessed in my life. The words "And Stairs launches one deep into the night" by Joe Buck will forever be burned into my memory. Though it was only game 5, that tater ended the series. Also, I'm pretty sure the ball traveled around 600 feet. This year, Stairs has not skipped a beat. He is batting over .300 as a pinch hitter and has hit some tape measure shots. He also had the distinction of hitting the last home run that legendary announcer Harry Kalas ever called. Stairs' home run to spoil Milwaukee pitcher Dave Bush's no hitter prompted one of my colleagues to reflect, "That ball either hit the foul pole, or went out of the stadium". I doubt we will ever know what really happened, but have a look for yourself. Matt Stairs truly is one of the greatest players of our lifetime.
If you have not become a fan of Matt Stairs by now there is something wrong with you. But if you still need convincing, I will share with you a quote from baseball analyst Bill James about Stairs' potential; "You put him in the right park, right position early in his career ... he's going to hit a LOT of bombs." Amen. Let us all give thanks and praise to the 5'9" and 240 pounds of twisted steel that is Matt Stairs.