Dayn Perry is a contributor to NotGraphs, a baseball columnist at FoxSports.com, and the author of Reggie Jackson: The Life and Thunderous Career of Baseball’s Mr. October.
The word “Sorrento” is not a Latin noun that, in certain declensions, means “someone who quietly, improbably and in workmanlike anonymity embodies a decade.” But it should be.
Paul Sorrento, in baseball terms, came to us in the latter days of 1989 and left us just before we began worrying that Y2K would kill us all or, worse, prevent us from accessing the full menu of GeoCities pages. That is, Mr. Sorrento’s MLB life spanned, from start to finish, the decade in question. And what a decade it was! We cloned a sheep! We abided Paul Reiser! Someone wrote this book!
The harsh light of time, however, has diminished all of it. We had a fine time but woke up and regretted a thing or two about a thing or two. As it unfurled before us, the decade felt very Mark McGwire, but in retrospect it was all very … Paul Sorrento. Is it an indictment of a decade to characterize it as a first baseman who was, in so many ways, Eric Karros minus several hundred plate appearances and the “Breck Girl” hair? Or is it … not half bad?
After all, Mr. Sorrento ranks 12th in home runs for the decade. He hit the first bomb in Camden Yards history. He was an original Devil Ray. And is there anything more decidedly 1990s than being longtime teammates with Charles Nagy? Also: He likely had at least passing conversations with Reggie Jefferson and Junior Felix!
Mr. Sorrento, you were not half bad. And neither were we. Like us, he was worse than Rickey Henderson but better than Limp Bizkit. So, so much better.