Sitting in Dodger Stadium yesterday watching my boys pound our archrivals into submission, Orlando Hudson made his Dodgers Home debut yesterday by hitting for the cycle (single, double, triple and homer), a feat even rarer than a no-hitter.
As Hudson slid head first into the bag at third to complete the cycle in the 6th inning, I closed my eyes and smiled as I imagined writing this article. Why?
Hudson's single in the first inning came on a Randy Johnson slider with two strikes on him. Hudson appeared to be fighting off the pitch, but instead of fouling it off, he bounced it halfway to the pitcher's mound...an apparent OOPS. Hudson took off immediately, head down, sprinting as hard as he could to first base.
...Not knowing the outcome, not knowing that Johnson didn't make a play to the ball, not knowing Molina slowly came out of his crouch to field the ball, all Hudson cared about was getting down to first as fast as possible. His hustle and unselfishness EARNED himself a base-hit as Hudson beat out the throw.
Why is this relevant? BATTLE, BATTLE, BATTLE! O-Dog never quit. Even the pitch he swung at, might very well have been a ball, but with 2 strikes he was protecting his at-bat...not watching a potential strike go by for strike three.
He didn't quit, even when he tapped that ground ball back towards the pitcher when most players I've seen nowadays, sulk and trot.
He EARNED himself a single.
Baseball in general, and more specifically youth baseball players I see don't take the time to hustle down the line as quickly as they should. They would prefer to stand and pout or jog sadly and slowly down the line, because they have already counted themselves out. How many players in baseball fail to run hard on pop flys, instead of sprinting and trying to get to second base in case of a dropped ball?
Coaches and parents must teach the value of hustle and the will to succeed, even in the face of failure or defeat. Never are those lessons so needed than in the game of baseball. The best hitters in the world "fail" more than 65% of the time!
O-Dog hustled...that's all. Had Hudson merely jogged towards first, he wouldn't have his cycle. He earned a place in Dodger fans hearts yesterday...and earned himself a place in Baseball History as well.
...all because he hustled. Orlando Hudson EARNED that cycle.