Heart and Hustle

Baseball season has already returned for some teams. For my Los Angeles Dodgers, it returns tomorrow. I cannot wait! I love the crack of the bat. I love the pop of the glove. I love the roar of the crowd. Everything about the game is exciting. Some call it boring. They say it is too slow and that it takes too long. I think those people don’t truly take the time to enjoy the intricacies of the game. Baseball players are some of the most talented athletes on the planet. They have less than one second to choose if they are going to hit the pitch that is thrown to them. If they decide to swing, they have to know where to swing to put the bat on the ball. The pitcher has a different arsenal of pitches. He has to study batters and know what kind of pitches he is going to throw to them and where he is going to locate them at. There is quite a bit of studying and strategy that goes into a baseball game (and even more in the National League).  Needless to say, baseball players are special guys.

I have many players that I like to watch (many of which I am sure you will hear about this season), but one of my favorite is Chase Utley. He just re-signed with the Dodgers for one year (yaaaaayyyy!!!). There was speculation that he was looking at other clubs, but the Dodgers’ front office realized his value both on and off the field. He is a veteran at the age of 38 and has been on two teams in his career. He spent 12.5 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies before he was traded to the Dodgers in August of 2015. Throughout his career, he has never given up. He has never taken one play off. He has never slowed down. Even if he hits a routine ground ball to the second baseman or shortstop, he is hustling down that line and trying to beat out the throw. He never gives up!

Of course, there is the controversy that surrounded him in the 2015 postseason. During a game with the New York Mets, Utley slid into second base and the shortstop, Ruben Tejada, was covering the bag and broke his leg on the play. The argument is that Utley didn’t slide into the bag properly or that he was targeting Tejada. He was trying to break up the throw to first base to try and keep the inning alive. Now, whether he did it correctly or not, is not my place to say, but Major League Baseball came up with a  rule regarding it the next season. It is affectionately known as the Utley Rule to all the fans.

Now that isn’t a positive story for Utley, but it does show his hustle and his heart. He is an exciting player to watch and he has also been able to bring some experience to the young players on the Dodgers’ roster. Corey Seager, the shortstop for the Dodgers, was a rookie last year and he was able to receive wisdom and advice from Utley, even in the middle of the game. They stood, maybe, 40 feet apart or so. Watching Seager blossom has also been a wonderful thing to watch. I’m so glad there will be another year with both Utley and Seager out there on the field. Let’s go get that World Series, boys!

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