Baseball Stars are Anything but Cookie Cutter
Among the many beautiful things about the game of baseball is the difference of style from player to player. This is true both within a team as much as it is between all-stars across the league. Sure, some players have a similar style, but because singular players are ultimately relied upon individually on every play in a game, each individual player’s style becomes apparent fairly quickly.
Here at isplack, we are huge fans of the game and appreciate each player for their ability and hard work. We are also just like anyone else and have favorite players we love to watch, and we certainly have a soft spot for the eye black wearing athletes on the baseball diamond. As you might expect, even the players on the top of our lists have very different looks, which led us to think about the different ways an athlete can become a great baseball player.
Let’s take a look at four of our eye black-wearing stars; all former all-stars who we think will be back again this year: Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Charlie Blackmon and Dustin Pedroia. Two of these guys are known to possess raw, natural talent who set themselves apart at a very young age. The other two are known as much for their hard work and overcoming odds of some sort to become two of the sport’s best. What sets each player apart? Let’s take a look because we’re getting excited for the start of the season as players like these once again go to battle on a nightly basis all summer. We can’t wait!
Naturally Talented, Yet Completely Different
Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were each drafted out of high school in the first round, Trout in 2009 and Harper in 2010. Each was also a celebrated Minor League player before reaching The Show. However, that is about where the comparisons end, other than athletic ability.
Harper has a booming personality and young swagger that sets him apart from many in the game. His style creates a connection with young baseball players everywhere because he plays the game with his hair on fire and with the style of a kid without fear. His work ethic and passion for the game are as impressive as anyone’s and he backs up his attitude with his play. Harper is a transcendent player who many young players will emulate. We think that’s a good thing for the game, because passion and energy is something every athlete should bring to the sport they love.
Trout has been one of the game’s best players since arriving in the Majors for good in 2012. He has won one American League Most Valuable Player Award and finished second in the MVP voting three other times, all before age 24. Trout is also one of the hardest workers in the game, though he generally lets his game do the talking, and rightfully so. He connects with young players because he is a great player and an exciting talent, but many of the all-time greats from years gone by connect more with Trout than Harper because of his traditional demeanor. If Harper’s comparison is Ken Griffey Jr., then Trout is Hank Aaron, both impressive and memorable in their own way. Each have the potential to be among the all-time greats, and each is a favorite of ours here at isplack. Both helps to define why the current era of baseball is so much fun to watch and enjoy.
Never Underestimate the Underdog
Our other pair of all-stars we love to watch and root for are Charlie Blackmon and Dustin Pedroia. This pair is certainly naturally talented, though that alone would not have carried them to become all-star players. These players have had people telling them forever, for different reasons, that they wouldn’t make it. Well they’ve made it, and they deserve all the praise they get.
Blackmon, who is old-school in almost every sense, is known as much for his burley beard as his impressive game. But his game certainly is just that, and it’s all because he puts in hard work in every facet of his game. Blackmon transferred to Georgia Tech University after two years at Young Harris College, where he excelled as a pitcher. However, once a Georgia Tech, he gave up pitching due to injury in his last year there, and was drafted by the Rockies as an outfielder. He worked his way up the Minor League ladder and made his MLB debut in 2011. Once there, he was told to he needed to be faster so he could play center field; done. He was told to work on his on-base skills to hit leadoff; done. Blackmon has worked his way to become one of the game’s most enjoyable players to watch, and we love his game because his passion for the sport is evident every time he takes the field.
Pedroia is the player that when you think about his style you immediately picture him sliding hard into second with a cloud of dirt kicking up behind him. Pedroia has overcome odds for his whole life, becoming a 5-foot-8 MVP. The Laser Show, Pedroia is the type of player that gets the absolute most out of his ability and hard work. When he takes the field you watch everything he does, from his fresh New Balance cleats to his worn-out, pine tar ravaged helmet, this guy is a joy to watch compete. He never takes a pitch off and he plays like the ultimate grinder that defines so many of baseball’s all-time greats. We can’t get enough of it, and we are excited to see him get back out on the diamond in 2016.
Each of these players is pleasure to watch in their own right, as they bring their own style to this sport we love. And whether you’re a third generation MLB fan who cheers alongside your dad and grandad, or coming to baseball as a young fan looking for that personality, these guys have you covered. Each of these guys define hard work and passion for the game that allows us as fans to connect with them. The fact that each guy has been known to sport some impressive eye black is just icing on the cake for us.
Get Your Colors On!
Peter Zana, VP Sales