OpinionMarch 25, 2006

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Rounding the Bases and Pitchers Swinging

By Stu Newstat

When you first read the title of this article, you might think it is about home runs. Far from it. Remember in little league when your coach always said, “Hustle down to first base?” Well, why don’t major league managers tell their players to do so? When I go to games, players never seem to run as fast as they can, and they usually look like they’re jogging or going as slow as if they were walking. Personally, I find that annoying .

MLB players get paid millions of dollars to play baseball. Every kid has a dream of doing that, but players today don’t seem to understand the concept of hustling for that salary. I was watching a show on Jackie Robinson a while back, and it showed some old footage of him sprinting down the line to first and getting thrown out by just a little. He also sprinted to first when he popped out. See, he never knew if the fielder would make an error or not; that’s why he hustled. Players nowadays sometimes seem to have a chance at beating out a throw at first, but decide to jog. Oh no, they might get tired! I would like to see certain MLB players play basketball and football. They wouldn’t last a quarter. I’m not bashing MLB players; I just don’t like it when they don’t hustle.

When I go to Cubs games or even watch games on TV, I notice that if a player hustles down to first it makes the infielders jumpy and want to get the ball to first faster, and they occasionally end up throwing it away. That is how Willy Taveras gets so many infield hits. Fielders get nervous when they see him, Scott Podsednik, or Derek Jeter come up to bat. They know that there is a chance the ball will come to them, and they know the batter will be sprinting, so they have to make the play in a hurry.

My Top Five Hustlers
1. Willy Taveras
2. Derek Jeter
3. Scott Podsednik
4. Jimmy Rollins
5. Carl Crawford

My top Five Walkers
1. Barry Bonds
2. Sammy Sosa
3. Frank Thomas
4. Alex Rodriguez
5. Manny Ramirez

Besides players not hustling, pitchers that can’t hit annoy me, too. They are MLB players who also get paid millions. Does it really hurt them to take five minutes before a game to take batting practice? I don’t think it does. Managers must hate it when their ace is pitching well and there are two outs in the seventh inning with bases loaded. In the playoffs, they finally give pitchers BP. Why not in the regular season when teams are trying to get into the playoffs? When starting pitchers come up to bat, most people who are taking score usually start thinking about putting a K up for strikeout! If pitchers could bat, it would be like having an extra batter in the lineup for National League teams. I love when pitchers like Carlos Zambrano get hits and chug around the bases and slide headfirst into third. It makes baseball fun.

Stu Newstat welcomes your opinions on this topic; you can find him in the Cafe's forums, where he posts as LongBallMan23.
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