Every year, we see some of are old baseball buddies ride off into the sunset. Some on their own terms, others kicking and screaming. I’m looking at you, Julio Franco. I always get a bit nostalgic when I see that someone I loved watching when I was younger, moves on. It’s like a piece of my past dies, which is kind of a morbid way of looking at it, but sometimes that’s the way my brain works.
Growing up, I loved some oddballs players, along with the typical “heros” of the day. Guys like Lou Whitaker, Ricky Henderson, Kirk Gibson, Dennis Eckersley, and Carlton Fisk. As a second baseman in Little League, I was naturally drawn to Ryne Sandberg. So much so, that I made my Mom make me a custom jersey with the number 23. I wore that number at every level I played at, until just recently.
Everytime I start to think about how the game doesn’t have stars like it did then, or guys that don’t play like those old timers, I have to remind myself that there’s a whole new generation of “Young Guns,” for lack of a better term. Kids that play hard, play the game the right way, and make the game look ridiculously easy. They’re my “must see guys” and if there’s a game on in which they’re playing, you’ll find me comfortably lounging on the couch.
Matt Holliday. Colorado’s new power man. His defense can be a bit shaky, but his bat makes up for it. Humidor, or not, this kid can hit.
Grady Sizemore. You seriously thought I wouldn’t mention this fine young stud? HA! He’s my man-crush Part One. We’re talking all the tools in this kid. He makes hits to the gap look routine.
Eric Byrnes. Man-crush Part Deux. He’s not going to dazzle you with his hitting, although he can hit, it’s his leather that I love to watch. I’ve never seen anyone go balls out on anything and everything hit his direction. And yes, he plays left but, I had to throw him in somewhere.
Hank Blalock. Too bad he’s in Texas, and seeing him play can be a serious chore. I’d throw A-Ram into here as well, but I get to see him anytime. I’m not sold on Ryan Braun just yet, let’s see how he does over a total season, and after National League pitchers get an off season to review his work.
J.J. Hardy. Youth has been served in Milwaukee, and it’s going to make the Cubs road to the Central Division tough over the course of the next few years. Hardy is a big reason for that. I also have to throw in Tulowitski of Colorado in here. That kid can throw some leather when ever he steps onto the diamond.
I have the same problem in any sport. I see kids wearing jerseys, and giggle. Thinking of how those players could never hold a candle to the players of my youth. Sitting back, you realize that these guys are in better shape, have more tools at their disposal, and better training at every level. Once I get past that, I sit back and just watch. Youth is a wonderful thing in any sport.