Monday, September 30, 2013


Not liking Sam Fuld is not liking life itself. He's never going to be anything close to a star--hell, he'll never even be the next Warren Newson--but he makes baseball a better game just by being the twenty-fifth man on the scrappiest team in MLB.

Sam was in the thick of it in Game 163 for the Tampa Bay Rays, having the type of night that Joe Maddon loves to orchestrate. Coming in as a defensive replacement in the seventh, Sam got a chance to hit in the ninth inning, with the Rays leading the Texas Rangers in their tie-breaker game, 4-2--and promptly slapped a single to center field. He moved to second on a Wil Myers's soft grounder...

...and then he undressed the Rangers' Tanner Scheppers on national TV.

No, that's not literally what happened...this is what we like to call a figure of speech. What actually happened was that Sam just took off for third base while Scheppers was readjusting his jock strap. As it turned out, Tanner had a better chance of throwing his jock to 3B Adrian Beltre than the baseball.

The throw was late and wide, and caromed off Beltre into short left field. Sam barely missed a beat in scrambling to his feet and coming home with the Rays' fifth run.

There had been hope a few years ago that Sam would be doing stuff like this nightly. But that wasn't to be--he just can't hit righties enough to be that type of player. And he has regressed in terms of drawing walks, a skill that he'd shown some proficiency at while working his way through the minors. But he has the perfect manager in Joe Maddon, who finds ways to use Sam that go a long way toward mitigating the fact that he's a below-average major league hitter.

It doesn't hurt that Sam is actually better coming off the bench than as a starter (.739 OPS lifetime as opposed to .625 as a starter) he demonstrated tonight.

Games like tonight will hopefully keep him in the big leagues a few years longer.

And that's a good thing indeed.