Friday, September 27, 2013

Five Things on Friday: September 27, 2013

Five Baseball People the Game Wouldn't Suffer For If It Had More Like Them

Some of them no longer part of the game, some who will be poignantly missed on the day they last step off the field, be it a planned retirement or an unfortunate and unexpected departure. By no means a comprehensive list (poor National League, I just am not as exposed to them, so they don't spring as readily to mind) and in no particular order.

1. Dustin Pedroia - We talk about players who play hard every day, but he brings it all: intensity, love for the game, determination, ridiculous smack talk, fierce competition. And what's more, he leaves his entire heart and soul right there on the field. If you gave me a team of Dustin Pedroias, I can promise you a team that would never be boring to watch.

2. Jim Leyland - He's the gritty, gruff sort of old-school manager that I appreciate. He's completely unpolished. The sort I imagine strikes the perfect balance between taking no crap from his players but also unquestionably has their back. Hardened and leather-faced, but when his team wins the division, he wipes away tears, not at all unaffected, regardless of the number of times he's managed them into the post-season. He's not the only type of manager that I can appreciate, but he's my favorite kind to watch.

3. Mike Lowell - They can't all be Hall of Famers, but there is something about the consummate professional. The quiet guy who shows up and does his job. Who laughs easily in the dugout and who makes the game look easy on the field. He won't put up monster numbers year after year, but he'll be steady and reliable, on the field and at the plate and in the clubhouse. (The slow-burn smile isn't a bad bonus either.)

4. Jim Joyce - An umpire who, like any of the rest of us, will make a mistake, but *unlike* most of his colleagues, will own his mistakes and strive to call a fair game, a good game, a consistent game. He doesn't show a power trip or alter his strike zone from pitch to pitch. In fact, other than his good, clear, loud strike call, you can almost forget he's there: a necessary and crucial piece of the puzzle, but not the one that we're there to see.

5. Mariano Rivera - The very definition of class, of competitor, of talent. He commanded respect from everyone in the stands, including the fans of his team's greatest rival, as surely as he commanded his signature cutter. Never a bad word spoken by or against him. Never a question that he took a moment of it for granted. Never a doubt that he played the game properly and with integrity, the way it was meant to be played. Professional to the core but not to the point that he took himself too seriously. He was only serious when it was time to close it out, fans and players of the opposing teams cringing to see him stirring in the bullpen. A special tip of the cap to Mo as he finishes the final season of a storied career. A first ballot Hall of Famer or Major League Baseball is doing something terribly wrong.

1 with their own thoughts:

*krystyn* Tuesday, October 01, 2013 2:05:00 PM  

Woohoo - Jim Leyland!!! To the playoffs we go (again)...let's see what happens this year.

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