I was watching the Giants and Dodgers play on Wednesday night and rookie Rajai Davis did something in the game that used to be commonplace: HUSTLE.
What made it even worse is that everybody I was watching the game with and the broadcasters noticed it. His hustle going from second to third and rounding third base so hard, looking like he might go home, stood out like a sore thumb. Shame on us!
Has our level of accepted lack of hustle fallen so much that a rookie made people take notice by doing what used to be the norm? Ernie Harwell, the Hall of Fame broadcaster once said to me "Harold, a good umpire is like a good driver in traffic. You never notice he’s there."
The year was 1975. I was in the eighth grade and just starting to really get into baseball. The Reds were the "in vogue" team to watch. They had Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Johnny Bench, you name it. Stars across the board.
As the oldtimers would say, "Now that’s a team that played the game right." They stole bases, hit and ran, hit for power, hit for high average and played great defense: the perfect five-tool team.
One player personified what they were all about, and that was Pete Rose. He had all the five tools like the rest of the Hall of Fame cast. The one thing that separated Charlie Hustle from everybody else was his hustle.
Not just sprinting to first after a walk or stretching a single into a double, but rather the head-first slide when he went from first to third on a single or diving head-first stretching a double into a triple with hair flopping and helmet flying for effect.
Every kid wanted to go first to third like Pete or dive head-first with helmet flying, only two things were required: get on base, then hustle. How difficult is that?
Isn’t that the way the game is supposed to be played? It’s a shame that we praise a rookie for playing the game right. If others would play the game the right way, maybe we wouldn’t notice them in traffic.