Classic card of the week

Henry Cotto, 1990 Topps

Coming up through the Seattle Mariners’ farm system in the early 90’s, a young Alex Rodriguez could not shake the comparisons to Henry Cotto. Both were over six feet tall. But it didn’t end there.

Both were born in New York but were Puerto Rican in heritage, or something close to that. (Like, not Asian.) Both men were not designated hitters, which is to say that both of them played the field, on the diamond and with the ladies. Each would play for both the Yankees and Mariners, and one year with the Cubs, which hasn’t happened yet for Rodriguez, but trust me. Both men, except for Cotto, would sign groundbreaking multi-million dollar contracts that would follow them throughout their careers. Both men happily caressed their baseball bats in front of thousands of adoring fans. Both men occasionally drank cranberry juice. Each had a famous, easier-to-say-than-their-actual-name nickname: A-Rod, Hen-Cot, respectively. “A rod of hen cot.” That is how scouts cleverly described Rodriguez’s similarities to Cotto.

At first burdened by these unrealistic expectations (i.e.: Cotto's legendary three doubles in 1986), A-Rod would learn to thrive under them. Currently, his 532 career home runs as compared to Cotto’s 44 has created a little space between the two. But the comparisons haven’t quieted down, mostly because Henry Cotto was something that Alex Rodriguez has never been: clutch. Don’t believe me? Check out the back of the card:

Henry batted 1.000 (1-for-1) for Cubs in 1984 NLCS.

Bam. 'Nuff said. Many people think that “batting a thousand” is a cliché, like if someone were to say, “Hey, I gave it 110% out there today,” or, "This thing that I am eating tastes like chicken." But Henry Cotto literally batted 1.000 in the 1984 NLCS, which is just about as clutch as you can get. In fact, scientisticians have proven that, during that series, he also gave it 103%. And yes, that is a record.

Some argue that this is a somewhat small sample size. But those people seem to forget that during Alex Rodriguez’s only postseason at-bat, he struck out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth during Game Seven of the World Series, and his bat flew into the stands and knocked an elderly woman unconscious and he also fell down and sort of pooped his pants a little bit while the opposing team -- the 1994 MTV Rock n' Jock All-Stars -- trampled over him in celebration. Meanwhile, Cotto’s clutch hit was crucial in allowing the Cubs to not make it to the 1984 World Series.

Henry Cotto still scoffs at the comparisons. “Call me when he bats 1.000 during his postseason career,” he is prone to saying, while angrily sipping cranberry juice. But that is impossible, due to the aforementioned A-Rod at-bat in which he pooped himself. Nevertheless, if Alex Rodriguez could, like Hen-Cot, bat 1.000 during just one postseason series, he could finally return to his homeland of not Asia with his head held high.

Did you know?
According to his Wikipedia page, Henry Cotto currently manages the Everett AquaSox, which is a Carl Everett-owned independent outfit that plays underwater, and doesn't believe in dinosaurs.