A story in the Daily News this morning reminds me of a “Seinfeld” scene:
- George: Magellan? You like Magellan?
- Jerry: Oh yeah, my favorite explorer. Around the
world, come on. Who do you like?
- George: I like DeSoto.
- Jerry: DeSoto? What did he do?
- George: Discovered the
- Jerry: Oh, like they wouldn’t have
found that anyway:
In a freezing, wet Michigan spring, [Dick] Groch watched Jeter from the
stands, from behind the backstop, from down the foul lines while
sitting in his car. The shortstop’s joy in playing “emanated from him,”
Groch says. “I made the comment once that he started playing baseball
at a family picnic and he’s been playing ever since.”
Groch saw power potential, strong hands, athleticism. He saw that
Jeter easily handled the failure that’s part of baseball. “It was only
a temporary inconvenience to him,” Groch says.
Scouting is no easy job, and the guys who do it are dedicated, hard working people who rarely receive the kind of credit for their work that they deserve.
Still, is finding Derek Jeter — a guy the whole world knew would be a really good one — the best hook on which to hang an appreciation of Dick Groch? If I didn’t know better I’d say that this was really just another appreciation of Derek Jeter leading up to his breaking of Gehrig’s Yankees hits record and maybe serving as a subtle MVP campaign for the guy.
Interesting, sure, But I’ll bet Dick Groch has found all kinds of good players over the years who weren’t drawing the kind of heat Jeter was. Those are the scouting stories I’d like to hear, not yet another Jeter love-fest, of which we’ve had plenty in the past week.
As per tradition, towards the end of the regular season, veterans on baseball’s various clubs haze the rookies by making them dress up and do something a bit embarrassing. That used to include things like making rookies dress up like women and carry pink backpacks, but Major League Baseball banned that practice, so veterans had to get marginally more creative.
The Phillies had their rookies — including Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, and Nick Williams — dress up like characters in Grease and perform “Greased Lightning” at their hotel in Atlanta on Friday night. Not only did the Phils’ vets and other members of the crew get a free show, but so did employees of the hotel and nearby hotel patrons.
Video with sound is not currently allowed to be embedded, so click here for that.
As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki explains, Hoskins was the inspiration for the gag as he has earned the nickname “Rhys Lightning.” (Rhys, for the uninitiated, rhymes with “Grease.”) Hoskins said, “You always hear about team chemistry. I think stuff like that let’s you get to know guys on a different level, when you’re not at the field. You just become more personable with people. The better relationships you have, there’s a different level of playing for each other. And I think that’s usually a sign of a good team.”
The Twins also had some fun at the rookies’ expense:
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge went yard twice in Sunday afternoon’s 9-5 loss to the Blue Jays, bringing his season total up to 48. That leaves him just one home run shy of tying the single-season rookie record set by Mark McGwire with the Athletics in 1987.
After Sunday’s performance, Judge is hitting .281/.416/.610 with 48 home runs, 105 RBI, and 122 runs scored in 651 plate appearances. He has the AL Rookie of the Year Award on lock and is neck-and-neck with the Astros’ Jose Altuve, Chris Sale of the Red Sox, and the Indians’ Corey Kluber in the AL MVP Award race.