Choooooooooooooooooooch! It never gets old, sometimes I even catch myself "Choochin'" in my sleep. He is a man that has so selflessly endeared himself to the Philly phaithful. He plays the most difficult and least recognized position in all of baseball. Until this season fans of other teams probably didn't even know who Carlos Ruiz was. Thinking instead that Philly phans were just "booing" like they usually do every time their catcher came up to the plate. Chooch is on a mission in 2012 to prove that he isn't just a defensive catcher.
I remember 2 seasons ago at the last home game of the season Carlos Ruiz stepped out of the dugout to say a few words to the phans for phan appreciation day.
“Thank you, we love you!”
Short but sweet from our beloved catcher but that was all he needed to say. The 45,000 plus crowd erupted. The “Chooooooooooch’s” were loud and strong. In that short 20 second period it was so evident how much Philly loves Chooch.
He is the epitome of the kind of athlete and person that Philadelphia loves. A blue-collar, hard working, whatever it takes to win kind of player. He doesn't get the national notoriety like a Buster Posey but he doesn't want it. He stands firm at home plate bracing for impact and takes on the charging runner like a man, and he doesn't drop the ball. That's what I like to call #Choochmode!
Maybe it is the way he talks in interviews refusing to let his language barrier keep him from speaking in English. Maybe it's the way he is the clubhouse prankster, hiding behind a wall in a lucha libre mask waiting to scare the crap out of Charlie Manuel.
In a record breaking 2012 season for Ruiz the love infatuation continues to grow. Chooch so deservedly was named to his first All-Star team of his career catching for the National League in Kansas City last week.
After a blessing in disguise injury to Rod Barajas (BOOOOOOOOOO!) in 2007 Chooch was thrust into a starting role. With concerns about his ability to hit, catch, and hold up over a full MLB season Chooch played in 117 games in 2007 helping the Phils to their second straight NL East title. To think that his ability to catch was ever in question is almost mind boggling. He is arguably one of the best defensive catchers in all of baseball and the best game caller in all of baseball. In 2012 his bat is as hot as ever making him one of the most complete catchers in the game.
His BFF Roy Halladay is always quick to praise his catcher after every and any success he has on the mound. Halladay, after his perfect game in 2010 presented Chooch with home plate from Sun Life stadium and a ring inscribed “We did it together, friends forever” (I may have added the last part.) Doc even went as far as having a replica Cy Young made for his catcher after he won the distinguished award in 2010.
Chooch has always been labeled and described as the heart and soul of the Phillies. In 2012 he is proving to be the Phillies best hitter and quite frankly their best player. A declaration Roy Halladay made in May after Ruiz was thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes.
Before this season Chooch’s career high for homeruns was 9, 2 games after the All-Star break Chooch already has 14 homeruns for the year. He has hit over .300 once in his career in 2010 with a .302 average, he is hitting .351 (3rd in all of baseball.) He currently has 49 RBI’s, 5 away from his career high of 54. A staggering slugging percentage of .592 (7th in all of baseball) and an OPS of 1.003. Last night in Colorado Ruiz broke open the game with a 3-run blast to left center. Exactly the timely hitting and production that Chooch has continued to provide throughout the season as the rest of the offense sputters along.
These are the kinds of offensive statistics that you would expect from your right fielder or first baseman, but not your catcher. These are the kinds of offensive statistics that guarantee you your first All-Star game bid of your career.
“He’s a great example of what baseball is with how he’s improved in the last few years and the player he’s become,” skipper Charlie Manuel said. “That’s kind of what you work for in this game, and what you strive for.”
Hitting coach Greg Gross, GG, noticed it in spring training that Chooch arrived on a mission. He came into spring swinging the bat great and hasn't changed a thing all year as his success continues to build. Before joining the Phillies in the off-season closer Jonathan Papelbon didn't even know who the man they call Chooch even was, it didn't take long for the love affair between Paps and Chooch to blossom.
"You don't see behind the scenes," Pap told a group of reporters in Kansas City. "He's awesome, man. I love him."
So do we!