Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Legend of Mateo Escalera Clause (that's Matt Stairs Clause for those of you who no habla espanol)

Did you know Matt Stairs is a not just a star in the United States and Canada, but his fame extends over the entire North American continent? Here's a gem from SI.com chronicling the adventures of Matt Stairs south of the border during his winters playing in Navojoa, Mexico. While the "goateed and neckless Canuck" was initially regarded with skepticism and even contempt, he grew to become a legend among the natives that Santa Clause wishes he could live up to.
"He's part of us," says Navojoa mayor Carlos Quiroz. "When Matt is hitting well, the people are happy. When he's not, the people are sad." Victor Cuevas, Los Mayos' principal owner, says, "People love Matt Stairs." And he's right. They love Stairs because he wins batting titles and hits long home runs over the Tecate beer sign in right-centerfield. They love him because he'll play any position at any time. They love him because even though he makes his living as a leftfielder and cleanup hitter in the major leagues, he comes to play in a rickety-bus league. They love him for his jovial unshaven face and his big belly and the way, between spits of chewing tobacco, he takes hard puffs off his cigarettes like a hard-boiled Navojoan."
Funny, that's exactly why I love Matt Stairs. The article goes on to talk about how Matt Stairs dominated this Mexican League for a few years by leading the league in average, RBIs and homeruns, playing every position (except catcher) and even taking on a manager/player role to lead the team into the playoffs. He was eventually offered a 10% ownership of the team as a thank you. Unfortunately, not everyone was aware of Matt Stairs star status in the small Mexican town. Kevin Millar, now a major league vetern, enters the hall of shame by not knowing who Matt Stairs was. Said Millar,
"I'd never met Matt," says Millar. "He was supposed to hit fourth that day, but it was 20 minutes before the game and he hadn't shown up. It got to be 10 minutes before game time, then five, and still no Matt. Finally, when the umpires were meeting at home plate, this guy walked into the dugout wearing jeans and boots and smoking a cigarette. He just pulled on his uniform, went up there and yanked a home run. I was like, Who the f—is this guy?"
The town mayor, Carlos Quiroz, also decided to add another fact to the Stairs Fact Vault: "Whenever I meet kids, I ask them what they want to do when they get older," says Quiroz. "Many say, 'Be Matt Stairs.' " If only all children across the world had such glorious ambitions.

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