We started this blog at end of the World Series and it’s been a learning experience. While I believe we’ve done a good job overall, providing original content nearly every day, I do have some minor regrets. I think I can be too hard on players at times, perhaps unkind, and that’s not appropriate in this forum. At least, that’s what I’ve come to discover for myself. It’s one thing to make a remark in a bar, hanging out with friends, or sitting at the ballpark. The words float up into the ionosphere and vanish. But a blog exists in archives. The written word endures.
And on a private level, I’m not here on this earth just to be another snarky jerk. Though, of course, the temptation to make a joke sometimes gets the better of me. That is, I don’t want to be just a snarky jerk. I dream to be: a snarky jerk . . . AND SO MUCH MORE!
I mean to say: I’m sorry, Justin Turner.
I’ve actually gone back over what I’ve written and there’s nothing too bad, surprisingly. I could look you in the eye, Justin, and not feel embarrassed. But I do think I’ve failed to appreciate you “in fullness,” as Valentine Michael Smith might say in Robert A. Heinlein’s sci-fi masterpiece, Stranger in a Strange Land.
I’ve too often made jokes at your expense, perhaps because I saw you (incorrectly, I now admit) as a symbol of ineffectual management. The below-average player we were supposed to love because he played the game right — even if you couldn’t really hit or field particularly well.
It’s not that I now see you as an awesome player — and I don’t think you are the answer to the Mets outfield problems — but I value what you contribute to the team as that 25th guy on the bench. The utility player. Yes, I think you are about a .700 OPS guy without any single outstanding offensive or defensive skill. No real power, no real speed, and the defense is barely adequate. In 2011, I thought 474 PA’s was far too much. In 2012, that number was down to 180 PA’s — about right, IMO.
And yet, here’s the thing: all you do is go out and perform your job. This year, you’ve been especially effective. You’ve already started a game at 3B, SS, 2B, and four at 1B. In those seven starts, if my math is correct you’ve gone an incredible 13 for 30. On three separate occasions, you knocked out three hits in a game. And each time, without complaint, you sat the next game. Other times, you’ve entered the game late on a double-switch or as a pinch-hitter, and always you perform credibly, if not spectacularly.
Teams need guys like Justin Turner.
This season, your slash line is .341/.364/.415 for an OPS of .778. I don’t expect you to maintain that pace. But it’s not really about the numbers with you. I think you are a good guy, a good teammate. I like that you are a coach’s son, a player who appears to have maximized his natural ability. A guy who strikes me as grateful, every game of every season, to put on the uniform and live the boyhood dream.
I thought just about anybody could run on the field and pie another player. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The one time you gave up the reins we ended up with a week-long controversy. Obviously, it’s not easy hitting a guy with a pie in the face. You just make it look easy. That’s true greatness.
You also changed the walk-up song. I think you know how much I appreciated that. So, that’s it, no matter what, no more jokes about you from me.
Unless it’s late and I can’t think of anything else.