This season the Jays launched an advertising campaign called Heart and Hustle 2.0. It’s more than likely just a cheesy gimmick to draw casual fans into thinking it’s OK if the Jays lose, as long as they try hard, because they are young. That being said, I’m not ashamed to admit I like the ads, and as a diehard fan it has a good impact on me too.
Ladies and gentlemen, say what you want about how Jose Bautista leads this team with his power or how Ricky Romero is the ace and leader of the pitching staff.
Travis Snider is Heart and Hustle 2.0.
Now, we all know the rosey-cheeked phenom has gotten off to a rough start to the season (.153/.242/.254), but throughout it all, whether or not he has been pushing and trying to do much at the plate is debatable, but he has certainly been trying to do what he can on the basepaths to scratch out anything he can to help his team.
Call me a sucker for a guy who runs out his ground balls, and perhaps it’s a big reason why David Eckstein was one of my favourite players, but Snider’s efforts on the basepaths are endearing to me as a fan, even when his efforts at the dish are less-than-stellar.
I have played competitive baseball for a number of years and although I’m admittedly not any kind of supremely gifted or talented player like Snider, one thing I pride myself on is that I run every ball out hard, whether it’s an easy two hopper to the shortstop or a ball hit into the gap. I have always had the mindset that you are cheating not only yourself, but your team, if you don’t sprint as hard as you can for 90 feet, when you are perfectly capable of doing so.
You just don’t see that attitude at the major league level all that often though, and for a player of Travis Snider’s natural skillset, it would be easy for him to just throw his bat down in disgust and jog leisurely down to first base on routine outs, hoping he does a better job next time. That’s just not what happens and it’s great to see.
While I don’t necessarily condone his headfirst slides (for potential injury reasons and also the it-doesn’t-necessarily-get-you-to-the-base-faster factor), I do have to commend his heart and desire to sacrifice his body for the team.
What I think was even more telling, however, was his post-game interview with Barry Davis after last night’s game-winning hit, which I’ve transcribed here thanks to the magic of PVR (that’s right folks, I watch my baseball games two hours after the fact and commercial-free, suckers)
Barry Davis: I don’t think there’s anybody in this balls that is as satisfied, as relieved, as thrilled as you are right now. That must have felt great?
(Davis is obviously asking a question about Travis Snider personally here, and assuredly wants a response something along the lines of how Snider kept within himself and kept battling even though he was having a rough night. The answer, however, is totally team-centric) :
Travis Snider: Yeah man the effort we put together as a team, the way we battled in the ninth inning, some big hits, kept us in that ball game and gave us a chance to win it late. You always want to be that guy who comes up with that opportunity.
BD: It was a pretty miserable night for you, you struck out three times, you looked very frustrated, tell me what’s going on in your head as you get in the batters box there?
(Again Barry is looking for Travis to comment on the recent slump he’s been in, and how he overcame it to be a hero. Travis doesn’t take the bait, however, and once again deflects the praise onto his teammates)
TS: I can’t say enough about the support I’ve been getting from my teammates, my coaches, the fans, I owe this one to them, man. You’re grinding, you’ve just got to get through, keep your head up and keep swinging.
BD: Sometimes it takes something like this to help turn the corner for a player, do you think this could be it?
(This is quite obvious that Davis is asking this about Travis himself, yet once again, the team guy that he is, is looking more so at the bigger picture)
TS: You know we’re just going to take it one day at a time, we’re going to get ready for tomorrow and go out there and battle again.
Davis would go on to ask a question about how they got to Mariano Rivera, and again Snider just put credit on the rest of the team who battled and a bullpen that kept them in the game.
It’s funny because I’ve long been a big fan of Travis Snider’s. He was at first this mythical name that represented future mashing, but has now grown into being a young player with the team who hasn’t quite reached his potential yet and there are still many questions about.
My girlfriend is a good woman and watches baseball with me. While she loves Jose Bautista and his bearded/rugged homerun swagger, her impression of Travis Snider (through last year) was always that he “sucked.” Being a casual baseball/Jays fan at best, I’ve had to explain to her that in fact he does not suck, but he is in fact at the major league level trying to figure things out when most of his peers are still bashing their brains out in AA or AAA, hoping for the call.
So whether it’s defending him against my girlfriend or against impatient Leaf fans (hat tip to Clements!), I will continue to believe in Travis Snider.
He epitomizes Hustle and Heart 2.0 and he is my favourite Blue Jay for reasons that have nothing to do with batting average, homeruns or game-winning hits.
Some after thoughts:
- Did anyone else see Barry Davis give Snider a ‘pound’ before he interviewed him? Whatever happened to reporters being neutral?
- On that note, what does everyone think about the fact that Gregg Zaun just openly says “we” when describing the Blue Jays in the broadcast booth. I’ll be honest I kind of like it, that ol’ Zaunie still feels a strong allegiance to the club even after he has left and retired.
- I wouldn’t be surprised to see Snider on the DL today with bruised ribs, after the Mike Tyson-like vicious right hands that J.P. Arencibia delivered to him repeatedly after he came through in the clutch.
- I was going to write a separate post on it, but I’ll just leave it here for food for thought. What do people think about a) Travis Snider breaking the bat over his knee after striking out? And B) Kyle Drabek’s little fit in the dugout. I’ll leave my thoughts for later if anyone comes back with some feedback.
And finally, simply because it’s hilarious, I present you a video grabbed off a recent Drunk Jays Fans post. If you enjoy baseball and the meltdown of Charlie Sheen’s life, it’s an enjoyable watch.