This post is for the old heads out there, the ones who sat through those endless middling-and-worse seasons between 2005 and Stephen Strasburg, when being a Nats fan was as much about ridiculous Jim Bowden-inspired headlines, Rob Dibble screeds, comment-section hysteria over inadequate media coverage and debates over the waistlines of Screech and Dmitri Young as it was about wins and losses.
For that crew, Chad Cordero still means something — “the closest thing the Nationals have to an all-time great,” as Kilgore recently put it. So does Dmitri Young, who had a bit of the same fun-loving, can’t-root-against-him spirit that made Michael Morse a fan favorite in 2011. And so does Robert Fick, who swore a lot.
Well, the three men recently came together again, on Fick and Young’s not-for-the-easily-offended FYI podcast. The three-man segment may not have been flawless radio, but it was sweet and endearing, and then horribly offensive, and then sweet and endearing again. The subject, of course, was Cordero’s inspirational comeback with the Angels organization after years away from organized ball, but really the subject was friendship, and nostalgia, and baby-powder pranks.
“We couldn’t find anybody else,” Fick explained, after Cordero called in. “We’re like you dude, we don’t have any friends either. [Expletive.] Chief, how’s it going dude?”
“I’m doing pretty good man,” Cordero said.
“You know me and D couldn’t be more happy,” Fick said, before cursing again, because like humans need oxygen, so does Fick require profanity.
Young asked Cordero if he was still on the hot dog diet, and everyone laughed, and then Young was suddenly serious.
“Hey Chief, you are doing something that when we met back in 2007, that’s what I was doing,” he said. “I was making a comeback. And I had a whole lot of baggage in my past that I had to overcome. And you being one of those teammates — Robert classified the whole team — and you were under the category of Great Teammate. So thank you for making 2007 very pleasant for me in D.C.”
Cordero responded with his own comeback tale, talking about giving up the game to spend time with his family.
“Honestly, it was the best decision I could have ever made,” he said. “Being home with my wife and the kids, it was the best decision that I could have possibly made. But it was definitely tough. I had to lose a lot of weight. I lost about 35 pounds. And I just had to start getting in shape. No more In-N-Out and no more Slurpees.”
Cordero said he still has his “Invisiball,” that his arm feels better than it has since 2006, that his fastballs are again popping.
“Body-wise it feels great, arm-wise, conditioning-wise, mentally, everything is right back to where it needs to be,” he said.
“Man, that is real good to hear that, Chad,” Young said.
And when Cordero dropped a nugget about his promotion to Major League camp — this was taped last week — Young and Fick rejoiced, for multiple reasons.
“Buster Olney ain’t got [bleep] on us,” Fick said.
“Buster who?” Young agreed.
“Nah but hey, Chief, for everybody out there listening, me and D, we got a lot of respect for you dude, ” Fick soon said. “The way you throw that ball, don’t ever change that approach. You’ve got some big [onions] out there, dude. We played with a lot of guys, but you were never scared to come after the guys. I didn’t even know you had a breaking ball, to be honest with you, and I caught you before. It just goes to show you man, you throw that fastball and you throw it where you want it, it does wonders.”
Cordero replied in kind, with even more compliments.
“I tell everybody that you two were honestly my two favorite teammates,” Cordero said. “It’s funny, when Dmitri asked if I wanted to be on the show with you guys, I was telling [teammates] that day, that you guys were honestly the two coolest and the two nicest guys that I’ve ever played with. So I thank you guys for helping me with my tough times, always being there, too. I really appreciate it.”
“Wow,” Young said. “Thank you very much.”
“That means a lot,” Fick agreed. “Thanks dude. For sure.”
This was wholesome stuff, heart-warming tales of love and fellowship, genuine expression of real human emotions. Clearly it couldn’t last forever.
“I was telling the story the other day — we talk about you a lot, too — and I remember when they used to dump baby powder,” Fick began. “This guy would go [use the toilet], you’d be on the [toilet] before the game, next thing you know, Brian Schneider, Nick Johnson, it would be just like a snowstorm in there.”
“Hey Chief, remember this, remember this?” Young said, making some sort of screeching sound.
“Dude, how can I forget that?” Cordero asked. “Or when we’re driving into freaking New York City…”
[NEXT SEVERAL QUOTES CENSORED FOR EVEN WORSE TASTE THAN MOST D.C. SPORTS BOG CONTENT]
“Aw, [expletive], man,” Fick said. “That’s awesome.”
“Those were good times,” Cordero said. “I miss those times.”
And from there, somehow the trio transitioned back to baseball and nobility. Cordero talked at length, and very movingly, about why he needed to step away from the game, and what it’s meant for him to return to the ballfields and clubhouses of his youth.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to get a chance to play in the big leagues again,” he said, as he talked about making this journey with his family. “I can’t wait to just share everything with them again, and have the kids be able to watch me play in a Major League game again.”
“Well if it means anything from us dude, if you’re healthy, there’s no doubt in our mind, it’s money in the bank, you’ll be there man,” Fick said.
“2013 comeback player of the year, you’ve got my vote,” Young added.
“Seriously. Just do your thing,” Fick added, before reminding listeners that Cordero once named his fantasy football team “Team Man Boobs.”