With players reporting for Spring Training... I find myself thinking of the last team that in the Major Leagues that one could call blue collar...
Player have reported to the spring training locations for the 30 teams that make up the Major Leagues, as a sign that the 2016 Baseball season is nearly upon us. And I can't help but look back at the last team of characters that baseball had... the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies.
Think of every cliche 'team sports' film you can think of, from the Bad News Bears to Major League and beyond... the 93 Phillies were the real life embodiment of that. A group of guys who on the whole, did not resemble what we've come to accept as 'athletes' in baseball. That's because they weren't athletes... they were ball players. These were guys, just on appearance alone looked like they belong playing softball, hanging in a bar, or in jail (ironically enough Lenny Dykstra ended up doing prison time), basically they did look like guys who should be on a major league roster.
And that's part of why they are still fondly remembered, particularly in the Philadelphia area. They weren't like everyone else. While the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays of 93 were on the fast track of being the 'white collar' look that has become the standard image of MLB in this day, the Phillies were more 'blue collar', both in appearance and how they played.
Sure every team plays 'hard... but there was something about the 93 Phils, that to this day still resonates with me, but it always looked like they had that got to fight tooth and nail, day after day feel about them. These were guys who played as if they had something to prove... and come hell or high water (or a bloated fastball in Game 6 of the World Series), they were going to prove it, and it showed.
That's why I call them the last 'blue collar', because in the years since then, as Major League Baseball has become more about corporate image and presentation, teams don't seem to give that same effort. As soon as a team is down 3 or more runs early in a regular season game, they basically phone it. Unless it's of course a 'big stage' like a nationally televised game on FOX... who pays big money for the rights to broadcast those games, and of course the teams have to put on a good 'show', but the rest of the time, they could care less about giving a full effort over the course of 9 innings.
Of course... this just my opinion... I could be proven wrong this season.
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