So, as I mentioned recently, I may be getting a little bit of traction towards the gloriousness that is the “MLB Dream Job.”
My fingers are crossed, but the odds are steep, so who knows.
Either way, for my readers, I thought I might post the essays I submiited for consideration as part of Phase/Round 1.
Wish me luck!!!
The First Part
A little about myself, and why I love baseball. Hmmm. Truthfully, those two concepts are really one in the same, or, at the very least, they’re intertwined, not unlike the bright red stitching on a pure white Rawlings cowhide.
A baseball lifer, my childhood memories go back to grass stains, and booted grounders. To the days of swinging a tiny bat, and connecting with nothing more than the rubber “T,” only to watch the ball fall limply onto the ground, a mere inches in front of home plate.
A purveyor of America’s pastime into High School, my dreams of making it to the show fell off the table with the varsity curveball, and my “cup of coffee” spilt soon thereafter.
But baseball has always been an original love. I still recall my early glimpses of a Big League Ballpark, and thinking how green the grass looked, even from the cheap seats. And each Spring, when the snow melts, and that same green grass begins to once again poke through, I’m brought back to those younger days. A diamond may be a girl’s best friend, but in many ways, it’s the boy in all of us that carries the courtship on into adulthood.
As I’ve grown older, and chased journalism dreams up and down the East Coast, I’ve never forgotten my friend from back home: baseball. For it is this grand game that evokes our senses, and reminds us what is pure.
Un-timed, it’s rhythm is unlike that in any other sport. Pitchers and catchers dictate the pace, while batters aim to wrestle it back through gamesmanship (and the occasional cup adjustment). The infielders shift, the outfielders creep, and the bullpen waits at the ready. All the while, opposing managers move pinch-hitters and relief pitchers like chess pawns, searching for the slightest advantage. To the untrained eye, baseball is a routine repeated. But to those who know what they’re looking at, it’s a dance ripe with intricacy and innuendo, governed by bylaws and codes all its own.
It’s these intricacies that draw me in, year after year, game after game, inning after glorious inning. To hit for your pitcher, or to not hit for your pitcher. That is the question.
Shakespeare knew his stage, but he had nothing on the Field of Dreams.
The Second Part
Okay. Now things get slightly more complicated. Explaining my love for the baseball? That’s simple. But predicting the future? More ambitious.
But in the spirit of the game, I’ll take a crack at it.
Who will win the American and National League Most Valuable Player Awards in 2011? Make a strong case for your selections.
I’ll take the National League first, because this one jumps out at me: Albert Pujols.
Why? Well, let’s imagine Cuba Gooding Jr. was here. “Show Me The Money.” Fat Albert is arguably the most-talented offensive player in the game. Maybe in the last decade. Maybe ever. Well, maybe not yet. But he’s good. Very good. He hits for power, and average. He moves runners along, takes the extras base, fields his position, and makes all the necessary throws. He’s a tireless worker, an exceptional teammate, and a student of the game, past and present.
And now you want to go ahead and add the motivation of money? Look out world!
Unable to come to terms with the Cardinals prior to the start of Spring Training, Pujols now stands to open the bidding to any team able to open their wallet. For a lesser player, this added pressure might serve as a distraction, maybe even hurt his productivity. But not “The Machine.” He’ll be dialed in, as always.
And he’ll be adding another piece of hardware to the ‘ol mantelpiece.
Now over to the American League. Things here are slightly less clear-cut.
My pick? Adrian Gonzalez.
Why? Well, I think the rest of the free world is about to find out what San Diego already knew: This guy can play.
Buried on the Left Coast for the entirety of his career to this point, a dosage of East Coast bias might be just the thing to take Gonzalez’s game to the next level. Stick the power-hitting first-baseman right into the thick of a pennant race, add some media glare, and bring on the Green Monstah!
All while playing in pain a year ago, Gonzalez belted more than 30 dingers, drove in more than 100 runs, and hit nearly .300. Now fresh off of shoulder surgery, he stands to bring the hurt to the Yankees, Rays, and the rest of the AL East.
Here’s thinking his shoulder will feel just fine in time to hoist the 2011 AL MVP.