In a week where we await the fate of Barry Bonds in court and witnessed Manny Ramirez retire rather than face another suspension for steroid use, baseball badly needed some fresh-faced lad to step up and demonstrate that it is possible to play the game with some sort of virtue.
Oddly enough, that face ended up being one of Manny’s former teammates, no matter how briefly. (I still hope Ramirez is voted into the Hall of Fame under the condition he must wear a Rays hat).
Sam Fuld, the pint-sized career Triple-A star, provided baseball’s best moment of 2011 when he came up to the plate in the ninth inning Monday night, needing only a single to hit for the cycle. Sure enough, he got the base hit he needed when he ripped a ball into the left-field corner — and then he kept running to second. Even as the Rays held a 15-4 lead over the Red Sox, Fuld’s respect for the game trumped his desire for achieving a rare personal statistic, and he hustled for his second double rather than pulling up for the single he needed.
Hustle has always been the name of Fuld’s game. He endeared himself to Cubs fans in his brief stints as a late-season call-up by literally running into brick walls to make amazing catches. But Fuld never could stick with the team in the bigs because they have so much outfield talent that it’s f*cking sick. (I even named a fantasy team, Sam Fuld’s Five, in his honor one year).
Fuld, whose homer was the
first second of his career, is unlikely to ever sniff the cycle again. But what he did was far more impressive than achieving that stat, and it’s something he should always be celebrated for. Hopefully America will notice.