Phillies Sexy Opponent of the Series: JA Happ, HOU

There are times in a fan’s life when a player is loved so deeply, it transcends all possible trades and even sometimes rivalries. It happened way back when with Tug McGraw. I should suspect it will happen with Philadelphia’s beloved Simon Gagne, the Flyer who was once our longest-tenured athlete and now a part of the Tampa Bay Lightning. These players aren’t necessarily here the longest, nor may they be the most productive, but we love them still and that’s something I know I can’t just shake.

Of course there were other possibilities for this series’ Sexy Opponent, and Lord knows there was no shortage of ex-Phillies. But one was so near and dear to my heart – and sexy as all get out, to boot! – that it was just no competition. Sorry, Brett Myers, that little Anthrax-band-member-looking billy goat on your chin just didn’t cut it.

JA Happ, P
Houston Astros #30

Yes, the lovely Mr. James Anthony Happ definitely takes this Sexy cake, even beating out the adorably and monstrously gangly, googly-eyed, forever-10-years-old Hunter Pence. Sure, he was a rookie for about, oh, EVER, but he was our rookie who always pulled through when we needed him. He may not have been the most touted or the most popular, but JA quietly held things down for the Phillies. We snatched him up from Northwestern in the 2004 draft, where he pitched that gorgeous badonkadonk off until we called him up on June 30, 2007. Back and forth, back and forth he went, never truly cementing a place in the starting rotation, not for his own shortcomings but rather a pretty set rotation. Yes, this includes sending him to the minors so we could have Adam Eaton in the starting five. Go ahead, slam your head on the desk. I’ll wait.

In 2009, our sweetie JA had earned a rotation spot, only after Chan Ho Park was sent packing to the bullpen. By the end of the season, he narrowly missed winning Rookie of the Year (see, I told you he was a rookie for eternity). He was, however, recognized by his peers with the Outstanding Rookie award, and was named Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News.

Sadly, in 2010 our days with JA became numbered. When it came down to trade bait, Kyle Kendrick and JA were on the line, and, well…we all know how Roy Story 2 began. The cutie from Illinois with the curiously Southern accent and beautiful lips was shipped off to the Phillies Part Deux: Phillies West, also known as the Houston Astros for that varmint huntin’ Roy Oswalt. He’s continued to perform well down in the Lone Star State, and I know we here at CDTLB, as well as most Phillies fans, wish him the best.

A lot of people ask me why I am so fond of JA, seeing as he wasn’t nearly an every day player, or even a solid starting five for all his years here. Having been around professional athletes from all types of sports for years now, both as an employee and fan, one thing that always strikes a chord with me is humility. While I do agree with the notion that on the whole, hockey players are the most good-natured and down to Earth, JA was a true exception. He was always a class act with kind words to any fan that approached him. He was sweet, shy, friendly and courteous, and those qualities will carry a person quite far. No amount of actual physical attractiveness, not even the most perfect tush ever created, can help fix someone who is cruel, uncaring and egotistical. I was blown away by the strength of his character, and for that he will always be a Man of Gratuitous Hottness.

Okay… so he is kind of bald. That’s cool too. Trust me – those lips, that rear view, that smile, that accent, and those mile-long gazelle legs make up for all the follicular challenges he may face.

He DID have hair once! And boy was it crazy.

In other Hottie-related news, happy birthday to Kyle Kendrick, who is one of my favorites on the Hottie Phillies Pitcher List. I’ll just forget that little “modeling” stint you did for eModa (Google it if you don’t believe me or haven’t seen. It’s comedic gold.) Good job hangin’ around here even though we’ve tried time and time again to scoot you out the door, ya little scamp.

Happy Birthday, Hottie!

Also, one of our favorite beat writers who actually interacts with fans like they’re his friends is celebrating a birthday today. So happy birthday, Todd Zolecki! Keep on making that Press Box a prettier place to sit. You too can wish Todd a happy birthday via Twitter.

Another very Happy Birthday, Todd!


6 Responses

  1. Great entry! I have a player that I just love so deeply as well so I can relate. You really did Happ justice here. Happ is a gentlemen among gentlemen and is sorely missed!

    Happy Birthday also goes out to Todd Zolecki and Kyle Kendrick.

  2. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    JA is a great guy, and I really wanted to try to get that across. I miss him too, especially every 5th start! I thought it was really nice most fans gave him quite an ovation pre-game and when he left, even though he was beating us. I know I was one of them! It was one of those rare times you don’t have to worry about getting pelted with a beer bottle for cheering the opposition.

  3. Thank you, CDTLB. I have been suffering Happ withdrawal since the trade, and this helped to heal my aching heart. I had tickets to see him pitch in DC on July 30. It was heartbreaking to watch Oswalt’s first start as a Phillie. I will always remember that day as the day I was supposed to see Happ, but Ruben rudely cancelled my plans.

    One of my favorite Happ stories ever came from last summer when he was trade bait for Roy v. 1.0. He was interviewed about his state of mind. Being a good guy, he admitted to the reporter that he just went back to his apartment and made mac & cheese. Pretty lame life for an MLB player when he could be out getting a ton of ass *cough cough PAT BURRELL cough* But it forever endeared him to me. The day of the trade, I made mac & cheese.

    Best of luck, JA! We miss you!

  4. I love this post, and to be honest I was hoping J.A. would be chosen for the sexy opponents: Astros edition. lol

    I really miss having Happ on our team. He had his problems this year with the whole arm thing, but all in all over the past couple years he has been a quiet asset to the team. He goes out, does his thing, and doesnt (from what Ive heard from others who’ve met him) walk around treating fans like they are below him. And I like that. I liked knowing that there was someone on the team who was more…nice? like genuinely?
    (not saying others arent Im sure, but just from peoples experiences). Did I mention I like when he “rolls” his lips during interviews. Just saying. And yes, the dude is attractive as well!

    The day Happ got traded I was genuinely sad. I miss him, and I wish him luck throughout the rest of his career.

  5. Wow I’m so glad everyone liked this so much! I believe this is the most comments on a Sexy Opponent who wasn’t controversial (Wright, Lincecum).

    I myself have met JA several times over the years and not only was he a total gentleman, he also looked a bit more scared/nervous of me than I was of him! It was shocking. But he was always such a great guy, which really made me like him even more. Maybe one day he’ll finally be back! This was the trade that made my stock in RAJ really hit a new low. Such a love-hate relationship I have with him!

  6. I just found this blog! 🙂

    I’m so sorry y’all had to part with J.A., but we here in Houston realize what a gem he is. We really made out well with landing him. He’s been nearly nails for us on the mound, and it’s nice to see someone so young and but focused on the game and helping his teammates.

    I worried about him because I saw the video of him talking to the press after word he just got traded, and he looked so defeated. I shed a tear for him – no lie. He said in an interview that he’s living in a hotel in Houston until probably the offseason and that made me so sad! 😦

    But, anyway, I just wanted you to know that love him here and Houston and that we’ll take care of him. He’s my new favorite. How’d a boy from Illinois get that slow drawl and sweet way about him?

    Thank you for the post! 🙂

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