Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Scutaro's Moment

Marco Scutaro: Journeyman / MVP
Photo: Peter G. Aiken, USA Today

I love guys like Marco Scutaro. Look up journeyman in the dictionary and there's a picture of him. I'm serious. He even appeared in a feature film about guys on the fringe of the majors. The guy's been bouncing around the big leagues forever, including a stint with my team the A's during their playoff years in the early 2000s. I remember him as a utility guy. He'd pinch hit here and there. Or fill in the rotation when Crosby or Ellis or Tejada was injured or needed a day off. Eventually the A's let him go and no one thought much about him...until now.

Utility infielder. There are hundreds like him in the majors. They're not All-Stars. They're rarely in the headlines. But they're solid, and in some ways indispensable. They're the glue that binds teams together. But they're not stars. If Scutaro was a city he would not be New York. He would be Eugene. If he was a photographer he would not be Andreas Gursky. He'd be Bill Dane. Or Don Hudson. Or Phil Bergerson. Those are the guys I root for, the unsung glue.

So he gets picked up by the Giants as an afterthought in a midseason deal, works his way into the starting lineup, and next thing you know he's batting .362 for the year. But he's only getting started. Then he gets hot. During the Giants playoff run he's been smoking hot, probably the surest contact hitter on the planet. All of the sudden he is the headline. GMs around the country are looking him up in the database. Who is this guy? Why didn't we pick him? And the best part of all is that he can't be denied. Because baseball is a pure meritocracy.

Baseball is funny. It's streaky, sort of like photography. Sometimes it seems there are photos everywhere. Other times you can't see anything. We all know the dry stretches, and the rich veins.

I'm not a major league hitter but I think trying to hit a baseball has some of the same character. Sometimes it seems impossible. Other times --for Scutaro right now-- each pitch looks like a lazy softball. I know Scutaro's run can't last forever. At some point he will fall back to earth as all baseball players do. But hopefully he can keep flying for one more week. I'll be rooting for him and the Giants, and for photos everywhere.

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