I had a need to open some packs of cards the other day. Since I was looking for mass quantity, I went for the repack boxes. If you just want to rip packs to scratch an itch, there’s probably nothing better.
This particular box had packs of 1990 Fleer. That was a pleasant surprise, since I really opened about as much triple play as I can stand right now. In one of those packs was a Craig Biggio. It’s always nice to open a pack with a Hall of Famer in it, whether he deserves to be or not. As a classmate of Pedro Martinez, I was exposed to a lot of Biggio during my last trip to Cooprstown. So, I was able to remember something about Biggio’s Hall of Fame plaque. Specifically, his many positions.
Here’s a line straight from Biggio’s plaque. “Transitioned from All-Star catcher to Gold Glove second baseman to everyday outfielder…”
Craig Biggio played in the major leagues for 20 years. When looking for highlights to engrave for everyone to see for eternity, they chose that one. That Biggio was able to transition from a Gold Glove infielder to an everyday outfielder.
Notice that they used the term “everyday” to describe the outfielder. No more Gold Glove. He was simply good enough to play there every day.
And they put it on his Hall of Fame plaque.
That would certainly suggest to me that they don’t consider switching from the infield to the outfield an easy thing to do. Certainly not something that would be expected. To the contrary, it’s one of the few most important accomplishments of a Hall of Famer.
So, why does everyone assume Hanley Ramirez didn’t try to be an outfielder?
If becoming an above average outfielder was simply a matter of putting in some extra work, would it be worthy of putting on a HOF plaque? Does not doing it mean that the player is lazy or uninterested?
Why should we assume that Hanley is only performing well as a first baseman because he’s “interested” or “engaged.”? Why is all about his effort level?
How about, Hanley is playing well in the infield because he’s an infielder? Maybe he wasn’t performing as well in the outfield because he’s an infielder.
Maybe we need to stop knocking Hanley because he’s awkward in left field. Maybe we need to realize that playing well isn’t just a matter of wanting to. Playing a different position is a big deal.
Big enough to put on a Hall of Fame plaque.