Mancrush: Evan Longoria
Coming off his 10-base performance in Saturday night’s epic ALCS Game II in St. Petersburg, it’s time to throw it out there that Evan Longoria is headed for the Hall of Fame. Obviously, it’s a bit premature to make such a lofty statement about a 23-year-old with barely 500 plate appearances under his belt, but let’s not be a dick about it and just let me be a fan.
As previously mentioned, Longoria is a shoo-in to win Rookie of the Year (the award, not the film) in the American League this season, but more importantly, he is as close to a sure thing as a young athlete can be on this side of Justin Upton or Lebron James. After not receiving any scholarship offers after high school, Longoria spent a year at a community college in California before accepting a free ride to Long Beach State in 2005, sharing the left side of the Dirtbags’ infield with Troy Tulowitzky. Rocking a 1.070 OPS as a 20-year old at Long Beach, Longoria was then passed over by the Royals and Rockies (whoops) and was taken by the Devil Rays with the third pick in the 2006 MLB draft.
After smacking 22 extra-base hits in his first 143 professional at-bats, the guy who happens to have the same name as Eva Longoria (“I get ragged on it a lot,” says Evan, “but I don’t mind. My friends and I think she’s hot.”), baseball’s Longoria found himself playing in Double-A while still unable to legally purchase an alcoholic beverage. He then spent 2007 tearing up Double and Triple-A to the tune of a .922 OPS with 55 extra-base hits before (finally) getting called up to the big leagues two weeks into the 2008 season.
With Longoria’s ridiculously awesome 2008 campaign, combined with the Rays’ first-ever playoff and ALCS (and possibly World Series) appearances, there is going to be some point in the near future when he runs out of girls to sleep with in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, as partially evidenced by the website devoted exclusively to his love life. There has almost never been such an optimal savior scenario such as Longoria’s arrival in Tampa Bay and the team’s subsequent rise to prominence: Clean-cut white guy from Southern California shows up in medium-sized redneck market, hits those home runs that all the kids go crazy about, team goes from worst to first, dude commits long-term, becoming a multi-millionaire at 22; he really couldn’t have walked into a better situation.
Of course, despite my earlier insistence, there is no such thing as a sure thing. Longoria could get in a Segway accident tomorrow and never set foot on the field again. But it’s cool to see a young player come into the league and be as good advertised; a la A-Rod, Tim Lincecum, Lebron James, Alexander Ovechkin, et all. Especially when that player chooses Pantera as his entrance music. What a badass.
P.S.: Great writing by ESPN.com following Game 2; way to keep your finger on the pulse of popular culture: