Recently, there was a bit of a twitter challenge relayed to some of us baseball bloggers. I put forward this answer to the question, “what is baseball’s most important position?”
No, don’t laugh. In attempting to decide what the most important position for a baseball team I have decided to go with that guy over there – what? You can’t see him? HIM. His nickname is Intangible… yeah, I know, not quite as impressive as Mr. Incredible or The Natural but nicknames are silly things.
Still a little confused? Well, what is it that takes nine guys on a field, nine pretty darn talented athletes, from all over the country/world and makes them play a game together? No, Mr. Funny Guy, the answer I’m looking for is NOT the guy with the checkbook. (although that helps). And, No, even though I could put together a pretty good argument, it’s not the Manager either. In fact, even a good manager will tell you that his first priority for managing his team falls square on the shoulders of Intangible. He is the glue, the bond, the very definition of team. His name is Team Unity.
Don’t scoff. When he’s present, he can take a group of mediocre major leaguers and bring home a win. When he’s not on the payroll because all the cash is going to 9 prima donnas more concerned with their stats during AB’s or the hot actress they’re banging who’s sitting behind home plate, the result could mean that 9 extremely talented players go down swinging.
Team Unity is what makes that brilliant timing work because of a near telepathic connection between a SS and 2B for that PERFECTLY organized DP. Aren’t they pretty?? Thank Intangible. Have you seen a 1B range a little further than his usual to field some out-of-control grounder and glove toss a ball from his belly in the general direction of his usual haunt finding a slightly winded pitcher tagging the base a step ahead of a runner? Yeah, you should probably score that a 10 – 3 – 1.
You can make the claim that Professionalism or Routine or even PRACTICE are legitimate stand-ins when Team Unity isn’t present. You know what? You’d be right but in a way, you would have just admitted to yourself that the ultimate goal, the REAL player you WANT, is Team Unity. Those other guys are the minor league call-up that you hope will actually progress to Team Unity given enough starts. Team Unity is the guy that pulls all his teammates together on the dugout steps to watch a veteran slugger with hope in their eyes. Team Unity is the goofy guy who teaches the rookies 12-step silly handshakes for in the dugout after a good at bat. Team Unity is the one that calls EVERYONE to the mound to greet the relief pitcher coming in after your starter has thrown his last. Team Unity organizes off-field activities that share interests, passions and causes that are important to everyone. Team Unity pulls 50 years of players together to celebrate a tradition of excellence on the field. He’s a pretty damn good guy when it comes right down to it.
So for all those claiming that the real core of the team is the pitcher or the catcher or the shortstop or whoever – if you’re pressed, even you will admit that without the unification of that core player and the other 8 on the field, you’d have a failure. You really have to have that 10th position factor into your lineup or even the efforts of a truly talented individual could be wasted.
Other Contributors to the Most Important Position Project:
Andrew Kneeland (the one who thought this all up)
And JC and I don’t agree of course so he’s got his own opinion following.