Where’s The Grit?


Last night Chase Headley charged into Nationals catcher Sandy Leon while scoring on a play at the plate. It was legal. It was hard and it was old school Baseball at it’s best. Of course when these kinds of plays happen it’s very common for one of the players to get hurt. Usually the catcher, and this time was no different. Sandy Leon hurt his ankle and is now on the DL. According to padres.com Headley tried to reach out to see if Leon was okay and to apologize, and this really irritated me. It seems to be a trend this season that if anything that can be perceived as dirty happens to anyone then apologies and suspensions must be issued. Is this tennis?

Sure, players get hurt as a result of crashing into home. Look at Buster Posey’s broken leg or the long held belief that Pete Rose ruined Ray Fosse’s career. But, this is part of the game of Baseball. Always has been. It’s hard-nosed, full-blown hustle. People continue to talk about banning homeplate collisions or at least penalizing the players who do it, but that’s all nonsense.

Chase Headley should not have to apologize, I guess he had to tell the media that, but what he did is a part of the game and proves he might be the only Padre who is working hard to win, no matter what. He could have easily injured himself on the play, but he knew how important it was to score that run – they are so rare these days.

But, of course if he didn’t apologize there would have been a nice group of people who would have said it was dirty and he has little concern for his fellow ballplayer, blah blah blah.

A couple weeks ago Cole Hamels (someone who the Padres should make a run at in the offseason, sorry I laughed as I typed that.) intentionally hit Bryce Harper in the back with a fastball. It was awesome. It was what should have happened and it’s how Baseball has been played for a hundred years. You should haze the rookies. Make them earn it. It’s a right of passage and how those rookies react is a good sign of how they’ll be as a Major Leaguer. So, what did Harper do? Did he cry or complain? Charge the mound? No, he stole home. He did exactly what a good rookie who understands the game should have done. He took the base, shook it off and showed Cole Hamels he was a Major Leaguer. Now, let’s get one thing straight before we continue – I don’t like Bryce Harper. By all accounts he is a d-bag. He was a huge showboat in the minors and right now Major League Baseball is acting like he’s the next Babe Ruth. He needed to be pegged and I was glad when it happened, but the way he reacted to it made me actually kind of like the kid. I will never root for him (unless he becomes a Padre, okay now I actually made myself laugh out loud.) but for the time being I can respect him. Cole Hamels said the same thing. But, Major League Baseball had a witch-hunt out for Hamels. No one is allowed to hurt our little Brycey, he’s just a little guy and he’s soooo dreamy. It’s ridiculous. It’s Baseball, that’s how these things have always gone and even Harper knew this. Bud Selig and his cronies need to get off the Harper Bus and start worrying about allowing highlights on YouTube – an issue people actually care about. Let ballplayers play.

Even last night, Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks threw at Clayton Kershaw to try and continue (or settle?) an ongoing feud between the two that started last season. Kershaw shrugged it off at the plate and went about his business. After the game the media wanted a statement and Kershaw said, “There’s no place for stuff like this in Baseball.” And, “It’s disappointing.” Apparently forgetting that he threw at two Diamondbacks the season before. Perhaps he had to say those things, perhaps he didn’t, but I wish he didn’t say anything. He just came off like a jerk, or better yet like a guy who didn’t want to get fined.

Last night when Leon limped off the field, he didn’t look back at Headley and say anything – maybe cause the pain was too much. I’d like to think it was because he was well aware that this is a huge hazard at his position. It’s part of the game and it should continue to be a part of the game and no one should say anything about it.

I realize it’s dangerous. Yes, I fully understand that and I don’t wish anyone harm at any time. I hope Leon can come back and slides into third base a little harder than he should when he plays the Padres next. Baseball is not football, but it sure as hell ain’t golf. Let’s not forget who made this game what it is and remember the first superstars of the ballpark. Guys like Honus Wagner or John McGraw or even Ty Cobb. Hard built guys raised in coalmines or on farms that worked their whole lives and left it all out on the Baseball field. Today we have guys on pitch-counts and guys who can only DH due to injuries or ability. Millionaires who complain at every turn about anything they think might disrupt their huge stream of cash, without regard for how they’re actually doing on the field. Yes, that’s a blanket statement and no I don’t think it represents every Baseball player. But, it sure seems like over the past twenty years we’ve lost something in Baseball. The guys who actually played hard are tossed aside in favor of the guys who can hit the ball out of the park. It seems like there’s no more determination, very little hustle and almost no heart. Old School Baseball is gone and it’s never going to come back. However, there are little fragments of the grand ol’ game that still peak out from time to time and it makes me smile. Let us have these moments. Don’t suspend players or force them to apologize, let them solve it on the field. Give guys a reason to get steamed and play a little harder than they normally would. This game was founded on grit and that is something no one should ever have to apologize for.