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Friday, May 15, 2009

Perpetual Underdog Syndrome

It happens at least once in every game they play.  A relatively plain-looking Caucasian player who's less than six feet tall and weighs less than two-hundred pounds approaches the plate and a broadcaster loses his cool, he begins to gush.  "This guy really knows how to play the game," he says.  "What a scrappy player," he says.  "Check this out, kids.  Anybody can be a big-league ballplayer...if you work hard enough.  It's just amazing, isn't it, Chuck?"  

Is it.  Is it so amazing?  Is Craig Counsell's career really evidence that flat-out tenacity is all you need to make it to the major leagues.  Don't listen to these patronizing asses.  Craig Counsell and David Eckstein may have the physical stature of muppets, but that doesn't mean they aren't superlative athletes.  They merely suffer from the social stigmatization of Perpetual Underdog Syndrome, or P.U.S.  

Counsell is playing in his fourteenth major-league season.  He has two World Series rings.  Eckstein was a World Series MVP, has been to a pair of All-Star games, and also has a pair of rings.  Dustin Pedroia, perhaps the most tragic P.U.S. sufferer, was an All-Star, won the Rookie of the Year, an MVP, a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, and a World Series ring, all in his first two years in the league.  Yet, Tim McCarver never ceases to be amazed that a 5' 9" leprechaun can hit the ball over the monster.  Tim, I've got news for you, two of your favorite players, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, were only 5' 11".  Does that two inches make all the difference?  It's time to stop treating small, white players like they're medal-winners at the Special Olympics.  These guys are legit.  Give them their due.

Current P.U.S. Sufferers:

Craig Counsell, David Eckstein, Mark Ellis, Mike Fontenot, Ryan Freel, Aaron Hill, Brandon Inge, Aaron Miles, Dustin Pedroia, Marco Scutaro, Ryan Theriot   

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