A buddy of mine asked me why we haven't covered the departure of "gay-gay" yet and I really didn't really have a good explanation for him. The Brewers career of JJ Hardy is the kind of career that was great at the time, but over the years we'll eventually forget all about it. Kind of like New Kids on the Block. Like NKOTB, JJ was beloved by young girls and just like NKOTB, JJ peaked at a young age. Don't believe me? Let's take a look at the seemingly parallel careers of JJ Hardy and New Kids on the Block.
2001: Hardy has a great senior season at Sabino High School and is named an All-American. He also goes on to play for the US Junior National Team winning the silver medal. That same year he was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the second round. He is one of the building blocks of what will come to be known as the "baby Brewers."
1984: Maurice Starr is dumped by New Edition and seeks to create a white version of the group. He meets Donnie Wahlberg whose rapping, dancing and showmanship impress him enough to make him the first member of the band that will become New Kids on the Block.
2005-2006: JJ makes his major league debut as the starting shortstop. He struggles mightily in his first season and if it wasn't for the patience of manager Ned Yost he may have been sent back down to the minors. He ended the season with a respectable .247 batting average, 9 homeruns and 50 RBIs. Hardy looked prepared to rebound in 2006, but an injury in May limited him to 35 games and people began to question his future.
1986-1987: New Kids on the Block debut with their self titled album. The album didn't get off to a good start as their first single "Be My Girl" received minimal airplay, mainly in the New England area. Their second single "Stop It Girl" (Stop what? You just convinced her to be your girl with the last song and now you are trying to get rid of her already? Come on!) did worse and if it wasn't for the patinece of their manager Maurice Starr they may have been released from their contract.
2007: There was modest fanfare for Hardy to start the 2007 season, but that would all soon change. A big breakout year for JJ Hardy as he doubles his career home run total by June and is selected as a reserve for the All-Star game. He ends the season with a .277 batting average, 26 home runs and 80 RBIs to go along wth his stellar defense. At this point JJ Hardy has become one of the best shortstops in the game and he is on top of the world.
1988-89: There wasn't much excitement for the New Kids to release a second album, but that would all soon change. New Kids on the Block released their masterpiece, Hangin' Tough which started off slowly with the release of the first single "Please Don't Go Girl" (now you don't want her to leave? you guys are bi-polar) that slowly gained momentum reaching #10 on the Billboard charts. They were selected to appear on such shows as Club MTV, Showtime at the Apollo and Soul Train. They ended the "season" with the #1 album in the country, 5 top ten Billboard hits and two American Music Awards. At this point NKOTB had become one of the best pop acts in the world.
2008: JJ Hardy has another stellar season this time posting a .283 batting average, 24 home runs and 74 RBIs. Whatever drop off over the previous season goes unnoticed and the backlash against him is minimal. Also, at this time the Brewers make their first playoff appearance in over 25 years and become the highest grossing Brewers team of all time.
1990: The New Kids release their album Step by Step which again hits #1 overall on the Billboard charts. They also have two top ten singles. There is some drop off over the previous album, but it goes unnoticed and the backlash is minimal. Also, at this time the New Kids make a worldwide tour of over 200 dates and become the highest grossing act of the year.
(See, I told you this would work!)
2009: JJ Hardy has a terrible season and the backlash against him begins. He still has his loyal younger female fans, but the rest of the fans turn on him. In August he was optioned to Triple A eventually being replaced by Alcides Escobar who many fans had turned to as the new, hot thing. There was controversy surrounding him when some felt the team was messing with his service time by sending him down. Everyone assumed that this would be the end of JJ Hardy as a Milwaukee Brewer.
1992-1994: After splitting from manager Maurice Starr, changing their name to NKOTB and releasing their Face the Music album, the backlash against the New Kids begins. They still had a few loyal younger female fans, but the rest of the world had turned on them. They were forced to tour smaller venues and were eventually replaced by more popular rap and grunge music in the hearts of America's youth. There was controversy surrounding the group when some felt they had used lip synching with their manager. Everyone assumed that this would be the end of New Kids on the Block.
Fall 2009: Shortly after the World Series, JJ Hardy was traded to the Minnesota Twins ending his stay in Milwaukee.
1994: Jonathan Knight left the band due to panic attacks. Shortly after that, the rest of the group disbanded ending their stay as a pop band.
I remember when girls I thought were hot died for New Kids on the Block and carried their lunch box to school, went to concerts and made ridiculous signs directed at them. I remember when girls I thought were hot wore JJ Hardy shirts to baseball games and made up ridiculous sings directed at him. I remember when those same girls who loved New Kids eventually grew up and looked back at their whole NKOTB era with a bit of shame. Somehow, I feel like the same thing will happen with JJ Hardy one day and we'll all be better for it. I mean, really, he wasn't that good.