Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Utility player

MoneyLaw loves utility players. From the New York Times' profile of the Chicago Cubs' any-position factotum, Mark DeRosa:
Mark DeRosaDeRosa, 33, is the major leagues’ only former all-Ivy League quarterback and the only player with a degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Yet he remains less white-collar Wharton than blue-collar Jersey. He is a thinking-man’s player not thinking too much, a late bloomer who has graduated from reserve to utility man to an everyday, versatile player.

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DeRosa rarely arrives at the ballpark knowing where he will play, although second base and right field will be the primary spots when the Cubs begin the postseason next week. A natural shortstop, he plays down the mental preparation his nomadic existence requires; he has relied as much on survival instincts as athletic ones.

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The few Ivy League graduates who reach the majors are usually greeted by barbs equally playful and suspicious, from Professor to Pocket Protector. DeRosa pre-empted that by playing hard wherever he was told and being the first to joke about his background. He flaunts his smarts only while figuring out pot odds in poker games.

“He’s a little self-conscious about the Ivy League thing,” Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson said with a smile. “I figured he’d be a straight-edge guy, not as funny or hard-working. He said to me, ‘What, did you think I was a geeky, sweater-tied-around-my-neck Ivy League guy?’”
Further evidence, albeit again from the world of sports, that instinct often / usually / always outweighs intelligence.

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