In one of the oddest columns I’ve read in a while, Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times writes that Ichiro Suzuki needs to hustle more and supports his argument by a) acting as if Miguel Olivo sliding head-first into first base is the greatest thing he’s ever seen, and b) saying that Olivo “might be the team’s most indispensable player.”
Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the column:
Olivo threw himself at first base, diving hard like a fullback at the goal line, beating the throw. As Olivo slid across the bag, his head snapped forward and he violently face-planted into the dirt. It was the kind of a play a leader makes; a gamer’s play.
Even though he had started 25 of the last 29 Mariners games, even though he might be the team’s most indispensable player, Olivo, 32, hurled himself toward first, looking for a spark that would ignite a rally. It was a Gashouse Gang-kind of play, all dirt and blood and sacrifice.
To recap: Increasing his chances of getting injured by “violently” doing something that didn’t actually make him any more likely to be safe at first base is “the kind of a play a leader makes” and “a gamer’s play” and “a Gashouse Gang-kind of play, all dirt and blood and sacrifice.”
Also, just so we’re clear, Kelley is talking about the same Miguel Olivo who’s hitting .243 with a .659 OPS that ranks 25th among the 32 catchers with at least 100 plate appearances this season. He’s also thrown out just 19 percent of stolen base attempts while being charged with the second-most passed balls in the league.
I suppose in some odd way the entire column makes sense in that if you’re someone who thinks sliding head-first into first base is some spectacular act of bravery and leadership you also probably think a catcher with a .659 OPS who hasn’t thrown anyone out “might be the most indispensable player” on a team that has Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda, Justin Smoak, and Suzuki.
But can you imagine what Kelley would write if Olivo was actually, you know, good?