The ink hasn’t even dried on Trevor Gretzky’s contract. Yet, the kid’s shoulders have to already be feeling quite heavy.
Gretzy – the son of retired hockey great Wayne Gretzky – recently agreed to a deal with the Chicago Cubs, months after he was drafted in the seventh-round of the MLB 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
The elder Gretzky, along with Michael Jordan, John Elway and Joe Montana, all have one major thing in common: Each was a superstar in his sport. Each was also an athlete that many kids looked up to and patterned their game after.
More importantly, each of these stars has kids of their own.
And unless a superstar of his sport marries someone that has genes similar to Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber, sports fans of the world are immediately thrust into one collective assumption: The kid’s got talent and our beloved franchise finally has its savior.
But to borrow five simple words from Lee Corso: “Not so fast, my friends”.
In recent years, the sports world has seen young players with a name placed on a pedestal. Only to see them crash and burn faster than Lindsay Lohan can lose her driver’s license.
There’s enough pressure on these kids to perform without even having a famous last name (and reputation) stitched into their jersey, too.
Jack Elway (son of John) decided to leave the Arizona State football team a few years ago. Nate Montana (son of Joe) pleaded guilty to reckless driving and later transferred away from his Dad’s alma mater to where else, but Montana. Marcus Jordan (son of Michael) has had some positive moments while playing at Central Florida, but nothing that can match what his Dad accomplished at North Carolina. Meanwhile, fellow Jordan brother Jeffrey once played for Illinois’ basketball program, but later transferred to Central Florida.
Because the 17-year-old Gretzky was a seventh-round pick, a good number of fans may not have high expectations. However, numerous others will hold out high hopes that his maturity and genes can push him to be a superstar chip off the old block.
And that should go double for this situation. After all, it was the Chicago Cubs that drafted Gretzky. This is a franchise that hasn’t won a title in over 100 years. It’s a team that desperately needs a first basemen to help anchor its future.
Drooling over Albert Pujols for the course of the 2011 season, it’s still unlikely that the Cubs steal him away from the division rival Cardinals. Meanwhile, one-year stopgap Carlos Pena continues to flirt with the “Mendoza Line”.
Trevor Gretzky is a first basemen with “Great One” genes. So who could blame the fans for hoping that in a few years, the shoe could fit and this Cinderella story comes true.
For all of these reasons and more, it’s no surprise that this news hit fast and furious, especially in Chi-town.
But while the report of Gretzky’s signing hits the headlines faster than Chicago’s Adam Dunn can hit strike three, fans of the game should approach the news with tepid interest at best.
Why? Yes, Trevor Gretzky has the talent to make the Major Leagues. But no one can predict how he’ll handle the game if and when he gets there.
He’s just a kid. At the age of seventeen, the apple is still on the tree at this point. With the way the baseball world works, no one can be sure just where this apple will land.
That, plus everyone knows how the rest of the legendary offspring stories have evolved.
So, please sports world, let’s not anoint Trevor Gretzky savior. No one should expect this kid to break the 60-plus-year Billy Goat curse.
The next “Great One”? Sure, one can certainly hope.
But fans of the Chicago Cubs should be satisfied and hopeful that he even earns the nickname, “The Good One”.