Peyton Manning won’t be the only one likely appearing in the final game of a long and lustrous career. The Caribbean Series championship game is today, Sunday, February 7th, and Freddy Garcia will toe the rubber for the Venezuela Tigres de Aragua when they take on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan for supremacy of the Caribbean.
Freddy Garcia won’t merit a Derek Jeter or David Ortiz farewell tour. He won’t garner many — if any — votes on the Hall of Fame ballot once he becomes eligible. But Garcia was certainly a reliable arm for a 15-year span in the MLB.
All in all, Garcia’s career spans 21-years. The now-39 year old was signed by the Houston Astros out of Venezuela in 1993 as a teenager and would later be traded to Seattle for the Randy Johnson fella.
Now, Garcia would never live up to what they gave away in The Big Unit, but Garcia had a few great seasons for the Mariners. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in his 1999 debut season (losing out to Carlos Beltran and his ridiculous rookie campaign). Two years later, as the Mariners reeled off a record setting 116-win campaign, Garcia emerged as the ace of the staff.
Garcia would go 18-9 that season with an AL-leading — and career best — 3.05 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. He would finish third in the Cy Young voting. He would be rewarded by being shipped off to the Chicago White Sox two years later.
Once in Chicago, he became part of one of the more unassuming consistent one-two punches in the AL Central, teaming with Mark Buehrle atop the rotation. Somehow in 2005 — a year in which the Fall Classic was one that no one possibly saw coming — the White Sox won the World Series.
Here is where we found out something else interesting about Garcia’s career. He was solid in the postseason.
He went 3-0 in that postseason. He hurled a 2-run, complete game against the Angels in the ALCS and then tossed seven innings of shutout, four hit baseball against the Astros in the World Series. Eight years later, the Braves would call on 36-year old Freddy Garcia to square off against Clayton Kershaw — the NL Cy Young winner — in the deciding game of the NLDS. Garcia went blow for blow with the mighty lefty, leaving the game with a no decision tied with Kershaw before the Braves bullpen blew Garcia’s gem. That’s just who Garcia was.
Garcia became a nomad after that, pitching wherever a team would let him. He became a quality backend of the rotation pitcher, eating innings and hurling quality starts here and there. He had somewhat of a rebirth in 2011 with the Yankees where he came out of nowhere to go to 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA while playing a major role in the Yankees playoff run that season.
Now he is set to bid baseball a fond farewell, back where it all began. Today he takes the mound hoping to bring home one last title for his native country.
One thing is for certain. We can all expect Dwayne Johnson to play the role of Garcia when MLB makes a movie out of his life story.