(The idea of this post came from an exchange with Lisa Swan, co-creator of Subway Squawkers . Follow her on Twitter HERE.)
With all the talk and controversy and hand wringing about Saint Mariano Rivera dropping a few choice quotes from a book he’d like to sell, I decided to put together a little test regarding work ethic, ability and what needs to be in a player’s heart to succeed.
Let’s take two players. Both are second basemen.
One player goes to a major baseball college and becomes a star.
One player is the son of an obscure major leaguer.
The college player becomes a high draft pick and signed for more than $500,000.
The other player is not drafted but signs as an International free agemt for $100,000.
The college player shoots up through the system as a highly touted prospect.
The other player comes to another country. works his way up, rung by rung, never being listed as a top prospect and often overlooked in his own organization. He spent HIS college age years going from the Gulf Coast League to AAA. playing for six teams in five seasons.
The college player is in AAA by his second professional season and being groomed for a big league spot.
The other player sees his numbers slowly increase from a .270 hitter with power in short season A ball to a .333 hitter that the organization can no longer ignore (despite signing big leaguers to play his position.)
Both become All Stars.
The other player plays 159 or more games for 7 straight years.
The college player reaches that number twice in the same amount of time. He puts up solid offensive numbers throughout his career.
The other player, the one who was not the big prospect, winds up hitting for a higher average, more power, a higher OPS and becomes the focal point of the offense.
Both players become World Champions. Both play in multiple post seasons with varying degrees of success. They have some good series and some bad series. Neither ever wins a post season MVP. Both signed long term contracts that will make them extremely rich.
Now which one of those two players worked harder to get to where they were?
Which one of those two players scrapped and pulled to get to the major leagues and which one had the smoother path?
Which one had the bad work ethic?
Of course the college player is Dustin Pedroia and the other player is Robinson Cano.
One is defined as tough and scrappy and the other is talented but lacks the desire or some crap like that.
I wouldn’t call someone who works up through the system to become an elite hitter and a Gold Glove defender, never missing a game and putting up amazing numbers anything but a star. And this is coming from as big a Pedroia fan as you will ever meet.
Oh yeah, one of them called their home town “a dump” that didn’t embrace him in Boston Magazine. Guess which one.
I think the whole “he’s got fire… he doesn’t” argument is silly. It seems to be based on people making the same observation of “He doesn’t run to first fast enough.”
I don’t know, but for me, that is a small price to pay for his production every single game year in and year out. And whatever his method of playing is clearly working. Cano became a terrific major leaguer by any metric, and he worked his butt off to get to that level.
That’s enough burning desire to win for me.