Friday, December 10, 2010
PLAYER MOLD: The Grinder
This kid just flat-out sucks and he's the only one who doesn't know it. He's got a poo-arm, he steps in the bucket, he's undersized, he's got zero tools, and on top of everything, he's not the best looking guy either. His BP is painful to watch - you feel as though you're developing bad habits and getting worse just by watching him hit weak flare after weak flare to the opposite field. You look around the outfield while he takes his swings and people are actually laughing about what's going on in the cage. You literally feel bad for this kid, and figure it's only a matter of days (hours? minutes? swings?) until he gets called into the manager's office for "the talk." Poor bastard.
Then you check the team statistics and that little shit is batting 30 points higher than you. He's fourth on the team in RBI's out of the 9-hole, and he hasn't made an error all year at shortstop. Uh oh. The team's stat guy is also about to get canned because these numbers can't be right, can they? I mean that kid stinks - doesn't he?
The kid's a grinder. He has been laughed at from high school through college and now even more so at the next level. His swing is ugly and his arm's below-average, but he simply loves baseball and does the little things that make a difference and keep coaches from cutting his ass at first sight.
He's automatic in the field. He takes ground balls every day after practice and takes pride in his defense. And to make up for his weak arm, he's worked on making his transfer and release lightning quick.
He's a great base-runner. He works tirelessly on learning pitchers' moves and getting great jumps, enabling him to steal a good amount of bags with just average speed.
He's got no power and has a laughable swing, but he studies pitchers, picks up on their tendencies and is a student of the art of hitting. He always gets the bat on the ball and is the team's best hitter with 2 strikes.
He works his ass off every day. He is a great teammate, always first to pick somebody up. He loves the game of baseball so much that you even start questioning if he's all there mentally - but there's no questioning his work ethic or positive attitude. He earns the respect of all his teammates, and needless to say the coaches are in love with him.
Nothing he does is pretty, but he gets the job done.
Big League Version: David Eckstein
Movie Shout Out: Kit Keller
*I was thinking of somehow including the great speech from "Rudy" - even though that's football, it seemed relevant. But then I remembered that although he indeed worked his ass off, Rudy was always just an awful player.
PLAYER MOLD Series