August 12, 2014

The Kole Calhoun appreciation post

Kole Calhoun makes me smile. 

The first thing I noticed about this guy was his enthusiasm on the field.  The way he celebrates his teammate’s successes is a joy to watch.  The perfect example comes at about the :36 second mark of this video showing J.B. Shuck’s amazing catch last season…

The image of him cheering Shuck on has stuck with me ever since the moment I saw it.  This is a guy who gets it.

Calhoun seems like the ultimate “wing man.”  He’s the kind of guy you always pick first in a game of pickup basketball or broom hockey or any sport because you know he’s going to do anything and everything it takes to win and he’s going to have fun doing it.

Calhoun was obviously born to play baseball.  He’s got the look; the dirty uniform, the game face stare, and the “I will run through a wall to beat you” attitude.

He’s fearless.  As a kid he was probably the guy you sent over the fence to retrieve a baseball when there was a mean dog on the other side.  If he was a surfer, he’d want to tackle the biggest waves.  If he was a soldier, he’d be the first in line for any tough duty.  He’s this team’s Darin Erstad and that is high praise.

I have this vision of him as a kid in tough situations with his friends.  I see his friends turning to one another and saying… “Let’s send in Kole” or don’t worry “Kole’s got this.”  I see him grinning and smiling like a bandit and saying, “Let’s do this.”

If Mike Trout is the Michael Jordan of baseball, Kole Calhoun is Kurt Rambis.  Yes, all the clichés fit… he’s a gamer, a throw-back, he’s old school. 

Angels fans love him, but it’s funny; as usual, the Angels marketing team hasn’t caught on.  You still can’t buy a Kole Calhoun t-shirt in the team store.  When the Angels acquired Scott Kazmir in 2009, his shirts appeared in the team store in short order.  As Kole wins over the hearts and minds of Angels fans young and old… nothing.  Zip.  Nada. 

Fans love guys like Kole Calhoun and why shouldn’t they?  He doesn’t take any plays off.  He brings that blue collar work ethic with him every time he steps on the field.  This is a country that still values hard work and when ball players who get paid a lot of money to play a game – approach the game the way Calhoun does – we notice.  We appreciate it and we applaud it.

Calhoun isn’t just a guy who gets dirty and plays hard.  The man has skills and he puts up numbers too. 

Calhoun has the same OPS as Albert Pujols at .801.  He’s among the league leaders in outfield assists with 7 and he has a fielding percentage of 1.000 with zero errors.  He has scored 58 runs to rank 47th in the league despite playing only 82 games.  Most everyone above him has played at least 100 games with two among the leaders playing 99 and 91 games respectively. 

He’s not your prototypical lead-off hitter and that’s what makes him fun to watch.  He approaches every at bat as if his life depended on him getting on base.  He’s not the fastest guy or the strongest guy, but he’s tough enough and works hard enough to make people stand up and notice. 

Whenever he comes up to bat at a home game, some of us have taken to giving him a “Yahoo” like cheer by yelling out Cal-hoooo-ooon.  This is a guy who should be marketed more.  He would be worshiped in St. Louis, revered in Pittsburgh and would probably never have to pay for a meal in Chicago.

In the land of lights and tinsel, he’s an oddity.   He’s not the kind of guy doing Head n’ Shoulders shampoo commercials, if you know what I mean.

When lines are being drawn and sides are being chosen – Kole Calhoun is the guy you want by your side and if the Angels get to the promise land, you know Kole Calhoun will play a big role, an under-appreciated role, but an important one never-the-less. 

Who you going to call?
Cat stuck up in a tree with no way down. Call the Fire Department.  What if it’s a mountain lion?  Call Calhoun.

Lost in the forest. Call a Forest Ranger.  Lost in the Amazon?  Call Calhoun.

Have to get a package to a foreign city overnight?  Call FedEx.  Top of Mount Everest?  Call Calhoun.

Need a base hit in the bottom of the 9th?  Call Mike Trout.  Against King Felix? Umm, Call Mike Trout… Let's be real.  Calhoun is good, but he's not Mike Trout.

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