Four months ago, a legend began. It was taut with patient, even-tempered strikeouts and invisible clubhouse presence. It strode silently to the plate, waited courteously for the pitcher to throw three strikes, and headed back to the bench with soundless dignity, maintaining a legacy in Philadelphia so nonchalant, so unnoticeable, that the ever vigilant fanbase only noticed it a little.
Those days are over now, as the utility outfielder or whatever he was has been freed from the bonds of his Phillies contract, liberated to continue his nomadic journey through baseball, latching on with local teams and stirring up controversies in their locker rooms, such as “Who is that?” and “Why does he play for us?”
After assembling a career in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia, John has given up on America, and will be searching for that next base hit in Japan. With four of those elusive offensive contributions for the Pirates in 2011, John actually maintained a WAR of “0.0,” which, after 13 gloriously hitless at-bats in Philadelphia, quite disturbingly became “-0.3.”
Whether it’s the blurred, out-of-focus image on his Wikipedia page, or the way in which initially typing “John Bowker” into the search box takes you to the page on a British professor of religious studies (“You… you didn’t mean John Bowker (baseball), did you?” Wikipedia asks with a grimace), John’s career has been the very epitome of a subdued epic. Is he simmering beneath the surface, just waiting for his chance to explode? Or is he just terrible?
One thing’s for sure. His career will be watched with great interest as he develops in Nippon Pro Ball. By whom, you ask? The GMs who were forced to let him go; maybe. Perhaps they will feel a twinge of regret as he sneaks a dribbler between third and short, accidentally being effective somehow. But mainly he will be watched by satirical bloggers who skewer nice people for the sake of a sarcastic post.