Sunday, September 24, 2006

September 24th, 1979

Nate Cornejo Born

As I'm sure most of you know, the Tigers punched their ticket to the post season today. I think most people are happy for the Tigers and their fans in a vague sort-of way, given the depths to which the franchise fell, their success is nice to see; plus it provides hope to fans of teams like the Royals and Devil Rays that their teams might someday turn it around.

One person who must have mixed feelings about the Tigers success, however, is Nate Cornejo. (The last name is pronounced Cor-NAY-ho, if you're scoring at home.) Cornejo is a righty pitcher who came up for the Tigers as a twenty-one year old in 2001 and pitched for the next four seasons. In the Tigers' awful 2003 season, Cornejo started thirty-two games (second most on the team) and lost seventeen of them. Despite that, he was probably their best regular starter, and the only one with an ERA under five. During his time with the Tigers, Cornejo went a combined 12-29 with a 5.41 ERA. The four Tigers' teams he was on lost nearly four hundred games in four seasons.

In 2004, Cornejo had shoulder surgery that ended his season and ultimately, his career. He retired this year while in the White Sox system, unable to return to the form that brought him to the Majors. As Cornejo watched many of his one-time teammates spray each with champagne, I assume he was happy for those who had "been through the wars" with him, but probably also wistful that he wasn't enjoying one of those champagne showers himself.

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