Hustling is For Winners

Surely, I can’t be seeing what I’m seeing. It’s the playoffs and we’re jogging to first?

Wil Myers runs to first. Wil Myers wins games.

In addition to kids on my lawn (can’t you see the over-seeding?) and young people not knowing the value of a dollar (1.17 Euros), I have a third pet peeve: ballplayers who don’t run to first base every time.

It’s selfish, undisciplined, and unexplainable.

Having said that, let’s try to explain it. Maybe, injury, fatigue, whatever can excuse not busting your ass down to first during the regular season. Mayyybbbeeeee. But in the postseason???? No. No way. But there’s the Indians’ Carlos Santana easing his way through first on a double play ball with his team already down one game in a best-of-three series with the New York Yankees.

Same story in Chicago with the White Sox losing 6-4 to the Oakland Athletics in the third game of their series. And there’s Jose Abreu sauntering through the bag, seemingly without a care in the world. You do know what elimination game means, right?

Both Santana and Abreu are not what you’d call fast. But I’d bet a dollar they’re a hell of lot faster that that.

Wil Myers –on the other hand– gets it. In the Padres series with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Padres were down 4-0 in the game and 1-0 in the series, but there’s Myers busting his ass down the line and preventing the double play. Sure, he’s faster than the other two, but it wasn’t speed that made that play and gave his teammates another chance to put a run on the board. It was hustle. It was heart. It was competitive fire.

I don’t know where you go to find a list of every at-bat and how often batters didn’t sprint to first. But, it did seem like there was an increase in this bad habit, even with the speedsters. For whatever reason, reigning MVP Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers now thinks he is not obliged to sprint to first. He’s obviously forgotten that he’s one of the fastest player in the big leagues and his pounding footsteps will get him at least a couple of errant throws every year, which will get him on base, which will get him runs scored which will get his team wins. But there he’s been, trudging down to first after another weakly-hit ball to second.

Today, we celebrate Wil Myers and wonder why Bellinger, Santana and Abreu stopped trying when every single fiber of their being should have been moving those feet as fast as humanly possible. The reasons are simple: you should always try your best, you owe it to yourself, you owe it to your team, and how big of a jerk are you going to be if the first baseman drops the ball? I’ve broadcast enough games that I’ve seen it happen at least a half-a-dozen times. Twice, the season was on the line. Both times, that team lost.

“Move it or lose it” my dad used to say. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the White Sox and the Indians both came up losers. The Padres, by the way, won that game.

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