Wednesday, August 15, 2007

If You Thought the Lunchpail Alert Was High Before....'s bright freakin' red now, thanks to Jerry Crasnick

I've established my stance on Jerry Crasnick insisting on doing a "Starting 9" every week. This is one of his worst.

No pain, no game for these hard-nosed players

Gritty McGrittersons. Guys that sprint for every ball. Guys that just NEED to beat out that grounder to the third baseman, so they run their absolute hardest to first (read: almost everyone). Guys that dive and get themselves dirty. Guys that look an outfield wall square in the eye and say, "I'm not afraid of you, biznitch." What a great topic.

Baseball players aren't typically regarded as tough in the manner of NFL wide receivers going over the middle or NHL wingers digging into the corner for loose pucks. But the season is so long, so physically and mentally draining, that few regulars report for work each day feeling spry or healthy in the conventional sense. They're all soldiers in a war of attrition.

Baseball is easily my favorite sport, Jerry, but there is absolutely no way you can compare the "toughness" of MLB players to that of NFL or NHL players. It's insane to do that. Baseball players don't get checked into the boards repeatedly, or have to catch a ball while preparing to get leveled by a quick, 270-pound linebacker. Most of the in-game time in an MLB season is spent sitting on a bench or standing around at your position (taking into account that pitchers aren't everyday players).

Toughness is in the eye of the beholder. But we're pretty sure it's embodied by Minnesota backup catcher Mike Redmond. During a game in July, Chicago's Jim Thome took a long follow-through and caught Redmond in the head with the barrel of his bat.

After several moments on the ground, Redmond staggered to his feet, blood pouring from his head, and apologized to teammate Joe Mauer on his way back to the dugout. It was the second game of a doubleheader, and Redmond felt bad about taxing Mauer's workload.

"It wasn't like I was hurt that bad," Redmond told Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "Just bleeding a lot."

What a TOUGH player. "It wasn't like I was hurt that bad" he says, referencing the time he was leaving the game due to an injury. This is like saying "That guy stopped playing the basketball game because he sprained his ankle. What a hard-nosed player!"

Remember "The Breakfast Club"? We'll call this week's installment of Starting 9 the Eat-Nails-for-Breakfast Club.

Nails for breakfast, cold stomach gruel for lunch (served in a pail, of course), and raw, freshly-killed deer meat for dinner. A truely grit-tastic 3-meal day for the champion looking to harden his nose.

Oh, and mentioning "The Breakfast Club" fits in just perfectly here, I might add.

Russell Martin, Dodgers catcher

He blocks balls, shakes off foul tips

Like John Buck and Brian McCann do.

breaks up double plays with abandon

With "abandon", he slides hard into second base and drives fear into Khalil Greene coming across the bag to turn the deuce in such a way that Johnny Estrada never could.

and doesn't know the meaning of the words, "I can't go, Skip."

Because he's young and hasn't been seriously injured yet.

Todd Helton, Rockies first baseman

Helton has endured back pain and calf problems, and missed two weeks last season with acute ileitis, a painful inflammation of the small intestine. Despite losing 10 pounds, Helton came off the disabled list as scheduled and started 64 straight games before Colorado manager Clint Hurdle was able to chain him to the bench.

"chain him to the bench". Simply priceless. Like the huge, overly-aggressive dog from the next yard over. I'm getting images in my head of Todd Helton needing to wear a shock collar that jerks him back into the dugout whenever he tries to leave.

It's the same brand of fortitude Helton displayed as a University of Tennessee quarterback while facing the onslaught of SEC linebackers. If he's ambulatory, he's out there.

Ah, no wonder. A football player. If we keep going, and Darin Erstad is left off of this list, I'm going to give you a Joe Morganesque lecture on how you're not being very consistent.

It's a certainty Biggio will be wearing an Astros cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. The portrayal would be even more genuine if it showed him beneath a gunk-encrusted helmet with sweat and eye black all over his face.

I say "gunky" becomes the new synonym for gritty. Eye black is a new one actually. Eye black! It makes you tough! That's how Scott Podsednik does it, duuude! And he's a guy that everyone considers hard-nosed.....a pretty-boy married to Playmate Lisa Dergan. (I can think of few baseball players who do not sweat)

Miguel Tejada, Orioles shortstop


No. Fucking. Way.

This is one of the most subjective topics in the world. And you actually got it wrong.

Everyone in the sports media world knows that for shortstop, there is one, and only one accurate answer to this question.

Standing in at 4'2" and weighing about 81 pounds, a boy playing a man's game with hard-nosed grit, hearty soul, and the energy of the fires of the sun, the answer has to be David Eckstein.

Five -- Actually Jerry, that one's yours!

With all due respect to Miguel Tejada and his consecutive games played streak, he doesn't stand a chance against Eckstein in the scrappy, hard-nosish department (read: Tejada is too good at baseball to win those honors).

Ty Wigginton, Astros third baseman
If Eric Byrnes is known as the Crash Test Dummy, then Wigginton should forever be regarded as the Human Four-Car Pileup.

Just ask catcher Koyie Hill, who suffered a broken ankle while being steamrolled by Wigginton, or Yadier Molina, whose cage was similarly rattled. Wigginton isn't the most skilled or graceful athlete. But he's a grunting, snorting, collision-inducing machine.

So he's basically Tim 'The Tool Man' Taylor from "Home Improvement" in baseball player form. Great. The fact that Wigginton crashed into 2 catchers and is being honored in an article for it does wonders to show how useful the article is.

Aaron Rowand, Phillies center fielder

Not Darin Erstad!?!?!!? I mean, good choice and all, but come on! Erstad was a football player too, ya know. As promised, here's your Morganesque lecture.

I'm not sure how I feel about Jerry Crasnick as a sportswriter, because I don't see him write everyday. He isn't very consistent in his views, and I think he would become a good writer if he learned to be more consistent. He's just looking for another good idea coupled with a good analogy. If he gets those, then maybe he'll be a contender. But it's too early to tell.

Chicago general manager Kenny Williams, a former major league outfielder, describes Rowand as tough in every conceivable way. "And I don't toss out that compliment lightly," said Williams

Rowand would prefer the fences were made of barbed wire. He brushes his teeth with a cactus, he bites the heads off of rattlesnakes, he's Chuck Norris with a glove!

One more Erstad-related blip from this column. The winner for pitcher was a tie between Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz.

Glavine, a former high school hockey star in Massachusetts, has thrown 4,300 innings without a disabled list appearance.

Who would have thought that there would be an article about hard-nosed baseball players, a college football player, and a high school hockey star without mention of Erstad's name.

San Diego reliever Doug Brocail, who came back to pitch in 2006 after two angioplasties in four months, also received several mentions.

"Brocail is the guy I'm avoiding if a brawl breaks out, because of his mental stability combined with his toughness," said Padres infielder Geoff Blum. "Oh yeah -- he's had two stents put in his heart."

He's basically the image of tough in a nutshell. Ray Lewis, Hulk Hogan, Russell Crowe, the Crocodile Hunter, Brocail.

Next week on Crasnick's starting 9: The 9 most dependable guys to sacrifice bunt a guy from 2nd to 3rd, coupled with a ton of bullshit reasons, backed by quotes from whoever Crasnick has talked to recently and weighted by whatever Crasnick has seen recently.


Chris Hart said...

I sent this very article to LB this afternoon. I think Crasnick is trying to make this "Starting 9" a running column, and for your sake, let's hope so. After two installments, I think he should consider renaming it "All White, All Right (Plus two or three non whites)"

dan-bob said...

David Wells eats more nails for breakfast than all these candy-asses combined.

Frank said...

The second the article came up I clicked on over here to read it. I'm completely with you on Eckstein over Tejada. I watch this guy play every day, and while he's a superb defensive shortstop, he isn't what I'd call scrappy at the plate, or for that matter on the way to first. And he whined and moped through the last two seasons.

Mgr. Trembley and Tejada had a bit of a spat when Trembley asked that Tejada do warm-ups with the rest of the team. The fact that he had to ask in the first place drops Tejada off of my "Jerry Crasnick List of Mysterious Old-Timey The-Way-It-Ought-Be-Played Superheroes" starting 9.

Perhaps he should put Jose Offerman on the list since he plays so much like Ty Cobb.

If there's an Oriole on this list it should be Roberts. Hell I'll take Paul Bako over Tejada, and he's supposedly the worst player in the majors. Crasnick is actually just redoing "Who's Now?" every time. Apparently at the Worldwide Screeder, coherent criteria of any kind are now nothing but a nuisance.

Perhaps I'm too harsh with Miguel, but around Baltimoretown, his streak was, well, nice. Just... nice. He's a grand player, but totally wrong for this list.

and I though Eric Byrnes was now known as the guy who almost drowned his dog at the All-Star Game.

pnoles said...

Perhaps I screwed this up too much. My main issue was that this is such a dumb topic to post on the number one sports network in America's web site. I don't want to make an argument for Eckstein over Tejada here, I want to make fun of everyone who cares that Tejada is the most "hard-nosed" shortstop (even though recent media will tell you that isn't true at all)

pnoles said...

Chris Hart - Crasnick's starting 9 has been going on for quite some time now. Thanks for referring such things to Larry though, we appreciate the extra set of eyes to bring us material.

larry b said...

i for one definitely making an argument for eckstein over tejada. what a snub! eckstein breaks up double plays with reckless abandon!

Chris W said...

Jason said...

I'm pretty sure I would make this list if it was the 18 and older non-professional league Lunchpail Award Team. This list is compleatly random. I didn't know playing hurt and below your full ability level makes you a better player. Hmmm, I played with two pulled hamstrings, I must be major league quality.

But Aaron Rowand probably does bite the heads off rattlesnakes, and barbed wire is more forgiving then some outfield walls.