Ellis Valentine was before my time, of course, but information I’ve heard on him seems to suggest he had as much talent as a Dawson, Raines, and even a Guerrero, but something happened that changed his career for the worse…
During the 1980 season, Ellis was struck in the face by a pitch and was never the same after the incident.
From visual documentation it seems not only did he (A) Grow a beard, and (B) become a football player, but also totally lost his “mojo”. The initial picture shows a muscle-bound player who would strike fear in any human being let alone opposing pitchers, yet in the second sort of looks like a bum.
The question of course must be asked, as to what sort of career Ellis Valentine would have had if that pitch never hit him in the face….
I used a SHARP 720s-2 fully-functionate calculator…yeah a calculator, they don’t make mistakes. You think I entered the data wrong? Try it yourself if you have the time. Believe me this information is FACT. If you use the patterns of existing data to produce a template of what was possible the results behoove us to go crazy.
The insaner of humans believe in “random chance” of course, whereas there is no grand scheme to life and everyday is filled with zillions forking into trillions forking into a bazillion different scenarios. I think it is referred to as the “chaos theory”, where if say a guy got up ten minutes later than he normally would and ends up meeting his dream girl and living a completely different life than if he didn’t sleep that ten extra minutes. Blah blah blah…the saner of humans, however, write that off as total nonsense…and I am, of course, one of them. Everything, as far as I know, happens for a reason.
That being said why did that ball come into contact with Ellis Valentine’s face and ruin what was to be the greatest career a professional athlete was ever to have? One can only speculate. Let it be said that that ball never hit him in the face and the big man went on to annihilate every single record held by a professional baseball hitter (and more than likely all pitching records as well) what would that mean in the grand scheme of things? If a player was that far above the rest of the shlop in the league wouldn’t it take the fun away? I mean all the thrilling world series bottom of the ninth victories would never had been possible if a player of this caliber was present in the league. Ellis would basically just go through the motions and win the Expos the next 15 World Serieses, most of the games would be like fifty to nothing too. The whole concept of nail-biters, and heroics would surely have been lost from the game for over a decade.
The league itself would likely disband. I’m sure the American League would refuse to play the National League in the World Series after the fifth year of being Ellised anyway. The National League teams would likely want to distance themselves from someone of this caliber as well and eventually merge with the ad-hoc American league. Legal troubles of the matter would surely ensue as the AL would want the National to adopt the DH rule. Maybe the West would have agreed, but the East was always fervently opposed to the ordinance. The NL would thusly be balkanized into two or three leagues in itself relegating it to political obscurity and finally being disbanded all together. In short, if Ellis was not hit in the face with that baseball and thusly allowed to obtain his true potential, it would have surely meant the end of Major League Baseball.
Obviously this theory holds far more weight than “random chance” yet there’s one thing that will never be explained. What force took it upon itself to hinder the career of Ellis Valentine? I think there are three possibilities…
1) The opposing pitcher…
Could a mere man foresee the future and take it upon himself to stop it for the good of baseball? Probably not, I mean he wasn’t even good or anything.
2) Some sort of Deity…
God? I’m not sure Jesus’ Dad, or Allah, or Buddah, or Shiva, or Ganesh are that big on baseball. I mean there’s lots of other stuff deities are concerned about, like finding ways to ease human suffering, or teaching dogs to walk on their hind-legs and evolve already.
3) Time Travel…
Did someone, likely very rich, and very smart, living in a distant baseball-less future take it upon themselves to go back in time and ensure Ellis Valentine’s ascent into greatness was not to take place, thusly changing the course of history? I’m not sure this is the most likely scenario. First of all, time travel most likely does not even exist in baseball. I mean if it did wouldn’t Bill Buckner have gone back and sorted out that whole mess of the ’86 World Series a long time ago? Wait, if Bill Buckner had access to a time traveling machine would not others as well? Who’s to say that Bill Buckner didn’t go back in time and right the wrong of the 1986 World Series, but couldn’t Mookie Wilson similarly have gone back shortly after and re-changed what Bill Buckner changed, covering up his tracks so well that no-one was none-the-wiser? It all makes so much sense now, I mean when’s the last time anyone has even seen Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson? Last time I saw Mookie Wilson was when he tried out as a replacement player for the Mets in 1995. 1995! That’s more than ten years ago! It is entirely possible that for the last ten years Buckner and the Mook have been perpetually traveling back-and-fourth through time changing and re-changing the events of 1986 World Series. In fact, I’d say it’s a certainty.
As previously stated above, if Ellis Valentine was not struck in the face by that fastball, the 1986 World Series between the Mets and Red Sox would never have occurred to begin with as the Expos would have either easily won fifty to zero, or Major League Baseball would have already been disbanded. Taking that into account, either Bill Buckner or Mookie Wilson (or both!?) must have altered the course of events in the career of Ellis Valentine during their respective journeys through time to ensure the event in which they are infinitely reversing occurs to begin with. It almost makes too much sense!
Ellis, I would have probably loved to live in a timeline where the Expos won 15 straight Championships, but we can’t kid ourselves, the collapse of Major League Baseball would have had incredible socio-politico-economical effects on North American society and culture. It just wasn’t meant to be…
(As for Mr. Buckner and Mookie Wilson…I’m not sure what would have been the best outcome to that situation. I know (thanks to a 1989 O-PEE-CHEE baseball card) that Mookie Wilson used his own money to open an “educational center” in inner-city New Jersey for girls entitled “Mookie’s Roses”. Therefore if Buckner fielded that ball successfully many inner-city girls would have lost out on a wonderful education. That also is not made up like the rest of what’s written here, some piece of mind I guess, Bill Buckner may actually have done the right thing in retrospect by not making that play, the Red Sox have won a World Series since then anyway).