In one of the most underwhelming moves of the MLB Winter Meetings, former Nationals C Wil Nieves signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. After being non-tendered along with Chien-Ming Wang and Joel Peralta (still don't get that one) just before the meetings began, Wil gets an opportunity to be a back up in another struggling baseball city. But I'm going to be honest with you folks, I'm really going to miss Wil Nieves.
The thing that I'll miss about Wil Nieves certainly isn't his .227 batting average, or his 5 career home runs in more than 700 career at-bats. Actually, it's not even his above average defensive ability behind the plate or the way he called games. It's his personality and his genuine ability to light up a room and give a great interview.
Nieves was one of the rare cases where everyone knew his baseball ability wasn't quite up to par for a team that desperately needed a great catcher to help a young rotation, but the players, and many fans, just loved him anyway. Sure, his at-bats would be frustrating when you have runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs, and he'd inevitably strike out. Or when there was a runner on 1st with 1 out and he'd ground into that double play. But again, this isn't why the Nationals kept him around.
It was for the times when he hit the towering home run at Sun Life Stadium in 2010 that would have gone for miles if the upper-deck seats didn't get in the way. It was about the joy on Wil's face; it was about the dugout jabs for still being able to count an entire career worth of home runs on one hand; it was about his enthusiasm for the game he loves so much.
At this point, I know some of you are probabably thinking, "wow, Capitol Baseball has really gone overboard with their praise for Wil Nieves here." But I assure you, we haven't. When you're listening to Charlie and Dave this season and you don't get to hear Wil's walkup song once or twice a week, you'll notice it missing. When you're hanging out at Nationals Park, you won't be able to look up into the press box and see Charlie and Dave dancing. And most importantly, you won't get the joy of leaping up when he gets that 6th career home run so he can stop counting them on just one hand.
So good luck Wil. I wish you nothing but the best in Milwaukee. Hopefully you can get Bob Uecker to give you an honorary dance. We'll see you in DC in April. I leave you with this, our farewell moment of zen: