Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Backup Catchers: Know Your Role, Shut Your Hole

Evan was just giving me hell for never writing about John Flaherty, the Yankees' backup catcher. I think it's because he doesn't want to be the only one with a crush on a backup backstop...

In any case, here is what you want from a backup catcher:

1. He'll call a good, solid game. This guy pays attention and studies every batter so much and spends so much time with the pitchers on the bench that they inherently trust him. You won't see anyone shaking him off. I guarantee it.
2. You want someone who won't complain about playing time. He'll take what is given to him.
3. You want a guy who goes out there once, maybe twice a week, who doesn't want the spotlight. He doesn't seek the airtime after the game, either. However, he will be articulate and unfailingly polite when he gets it.
4. He will never take credit for anything. Rather, he will talk about how all those around him work hard and that his own success is all owed to them.
5. He will take the fall for a bad outing, simply to save the ego of the bigtime pitcher.
6. He doesn't get in big contract or arbitration battles. He'll sign his $800,000 - $1,500,000 a year contract, say thank you, and never speak about it again.
7. He'll get a hit or two, staying above the Mendoze (aka Thome) line at all times. He may even get a game winner (see: July 1, 2004 against the Sox aka The Jeter game)
8. If he's a veteran, he'll help the kid out, discussing pitch selection, footwork, and how to not be a dick.
9. He'll help the coaches out, offering insight on the opponents and strategy.
10. He'll be in the bad baseball network shows (read: Kids on Deck, YES Network) when all the other superstars don't want to be.

All I can say is that John Flaherty fulfills this role. He goes about his business professionally, with grace, and without complaint. He helps out the younger guys when needed. He'll cover up a pitcher's bad outing or even take the fall himself. He's the consumate team player. I salute you John. Like I salute a trusted wingman.


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