This isn’t the first time we’re choosing a Random Pro of the Week based on the awesome-ness of their name (see: Hammaker, Atlee) and we’re pretty sure this won’t be the last.
The way people say Esteban Yan is in a sleepy sort of rhyme, the way his last name just slides out of your mouth, kind of like a yawn. Funny then, that his last name is a homophone of that act because it is close to the same expression.
And, that’s what his career mostly was.
For all we know, Yan is still pitching somewhere. He went all Kenny Powers and pitched in Mexico last season. So, it’s weird to be writing about Esteban Yan as our Random Pro of the Week, but it was a suggestion from one of our dear readers and we like to make them happy. (Obligatory plug: if you have an idea for a Random Pro, leave us a note.)
Esteban Yan has pitched in the wastelands – we’re not talking about Mexico – of baseball (Tampa Bay) and the penthouses (an ALCS Angels team in 2005); in the long-forgotton places of pro ball (the Independent League) and where major leaguers who have a little left in the tank go (Japan); and he’s pitched in Mexico. It’s truly amazing to see everywhere he has called home just to continue pitching.
Yan hasn’t pitched in The Show since 2006 and it’s unlikely he will follow Powers’ path back. And, just because, here’s the latest video from MFCEO Kenny Powers
Anyways, back to Yan …
After allowing 17 earned runs in 9.2 innings with Baltimore in 1997, he was part of the original Tampa Bay team – a Devil Rays team that lost 99 games. He pitched in Tampa through the 2002 season and had the honor of being the longest-lasting original Devil Ray. Yan then bounced around from Texas to St. Louis to Detroit to Anaheim to Cincinnati.
Whatever. He’s a journeyman.
But, what’s most striking about the randomness of Yan – and therefore, the Random Pro of the Week award – is his highlight in pop culture. He was oddly referenced on a Simpsons episode when Bart and Millhouse are pretending to be Major League Baseball players and this exchange follows:
Bart: “I’m Tomokazu Ohko of the Montreal Expos.”
Millhouse: “And I’m Esteban Yan of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.”
Rather than be, oh I don’t know, Hideo Nomo and Jose Canseco like the kid in “Liar Liar” wants to be when he plays with Jim Carrey, Bart and Millhouse want to be randoms.
When I was covering the Angels, there were a few things I loved about Esteban Yan:
- He was always smiling. This despite being the mop-up guy in a good bullpen.
- He always wore the oddest and most colorful underwear. Yan wore briefs and they were not your standard whites. He had silky underwear that came in various Pollack-esque colors, which stood out against his dark skin.
- He always carried around a yellow softball and was constantly pressing it between his right index and middle finger and then throwing it on the ground as he walked. This, assumingly, was to stretch out his fingers for a better split-fingered fastball.
- His English was terrible and his heavy Dominican accent made it even harder to understand. So, that is why I assumed things about him because if I asked, I had no idea what he would say.
- He looks like one of the characters from The Gorillaz.