Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sometimes, hustle and heart matter

We do this weird thing in the blogosphere.

We greet schmucky slogans like "Hustle & Heart" with derision, probably more than is deserved (even if some gentle mocking is probably in order).

We like to claim that we don't care about clubhouse unity; it matters little to us if the roster is comprised of grade-A pricks, so long as they perform.

Well, you know? Fuck that. Can't we have both?

I'm an admitted softy to these kind of stories, probably moreso since my own baby son went through a life-threatening stretch of illness of his own. So if you're a heartless robot (and not in an awesome Halladay-esque way) who would gladly trade solid citizenry for thirty points of OPS, feel free to spend the next few minutes spending your time elsewhere. It's OK. I won't judge. Hey, some (most?) days I would too. But not today.

Not after watching Thursday's game and reading this story.

It's when reflecting on stories like these that the easy thing to say, the defacto attitude to have, is that baseball doesn't matter. And in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really. It's not life or death. It's entertainment.

That's what ties all this together. These Blue Jays - Romero and Arencibia in particular - seem to get it. They really do. Maybe we're all just so jaded into believing that pro athletes are naturally arrogant and selfish in nature that when the players we cheer for seem to actually care, we're taken aback.

But tears and emotion don't lie. Romero and JPA could have given the standard quotes - "well, hearing that kind of story puts it all in perspective, y'know, so we just went out there and gave it 110% for the kid." But their actions on the field and reactions beyond it showed so much more otherwise.

I'm sure for many the biggest story was the Jays won the game and split the mini-set with the Rays. And that was all well and good, too. But part of the entertainment factor, for me anyway, is cheering for a group of players you can respect.

No matter the boxscores for the balance of the season, it doesn't look like that's going to be much of a problem at all.


Anonymous said...

The post game interview with J.P. almost in tears choked me right up!!

Deere5800 said...

Thank you. I'm a Jays fan and always will be. But being able to cheer for some of these guys who I actually believe are good human beings off the diamond makes it that much more enjoyable. It'd be great to see a world series Jays team, but if it came at the expense of that "hustle and heart" mentality, it just wouldn't have the same feeling to it.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Ack

Buck16 said...

For a picture of the little boy, go here.

And then tell me your heart doesn't break.

Chad said...

Nice article, Ack. I read the story you linked and had a little cry.

My streak of Dick Vermeil-like sob fests continues.

bkblades said...

There's not enough sabermetrics in this post, Ack.

At the very least, I need a weighted tear measurement.

Drew said...

Here's my thing: you can have this great, affecting story without the buzzworded marketing campaign.

If anything, seeing Romero and JPA show a real side of themselves sells the team SO MUCH MORE than the hustle and heart shit they throw at the wall for two years running.

Sell us personality, don't try to cram complex & interesting people into focus grouped-to-death slogans.

Navin V. said...

For two rather youngish guys, the reactions of JPA and Romero to the death of the little guy took me a bit by surprise. It seems like their heads are on tighter than I imagined. With athletes these days, the bar has been set so bloody low.

As for "Hustle & Heart," I've never quite understood the bashing of it. It's a goddamn marketing slogan, one they're using to try and sell a baseball team in a hockey town. Get over it already. It means nothing.

The Ack said...

"As for "Hustle & Heart," I've never quite understood the bashing of it. It's a goddamn marketing slogan, one they're using to try and sell a baseball team in a hockey town. Get over it already. It means nothing."


It's nothing more than a shitty little slogan trying to draw in casual fans, which we are not. Is it pandering? Sure, a little. But who cares? It doesn't suck as much as 11,213 in the seats for a Wednesday evening game against Cleveland.

Somehow, I don't think a marketing campaign built on WAR and UZR will draw in the guy wearing a Gilmour jersey.

Drew said...

Crazy idea: maybe not treating "casual fans" like a moronic bunch of mouth breathers might encourage them to come out.

Or perhaps not positioning the franchise like a fucking punchline might keep people from viewing it as a fucking joke.

The Ack said...

If anyone views the franchise as a fucking joke over that tagline and for that reason only... then I guess I don't have much else to say.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. How does "Hustle & Heart" = casual fans are a moronic bunch of mouth breathers? Where's the connection? What am I missing?

I'm not convinced the franchise is the fucking punchline. It's the frustration around the situation the Jays have to work in that keeps people away, in my opinion. The division, being spent into the ground, and the unbalanced schedule. In those latter Ricciardi years, the Jays put some quality ball clubs together. It's not for lack of trying.