Griff's View O'The Game: 8/8-Hard-Nosed Play

Mo Vaughn and Jeromy Burnitz both have reputations as hard-nosed players. Vaughn earned my respect and a bit of head-shaking on my part when he tried to keep playing through a fractured bone in his hand early in the season before Bobby Valentine caught it with a handshake. I've never faulted Burnitz for his play on the field, and he's a hustling baserunner when he gets on, which has been altogether too infrequent this season.

Vaughn showed his grittiness when Jamey Wright threw a pitch that appeared to hit him in his back foot. I watched the pitch, thinking That hit him. Vaughn stood there at the plate, nonchalantly, acting like he'd moved his foot in time and the ball had hit the dirt. The announcers couldn't believe it hadn't hit him either , and they showed a replay and it showed it clearly hitting him in the foot. Vaughn, in his macho ethic, decided that hitting would be better than getting a free base. He got on first anyways on the next pitch, lacing a single.

Burnitz, who while being derided by the fans for his lack of productivity at the plate, has earned my respect by playing hard in the field every inning, and has made tough slides to try to break up double plays when he does reach base. In today's game, he made a great catch off a hard line drive, catching it while running nearly full-force into the wall. Granted, the wall was padded, but still, Burnitz risked a possible injury.

In this season that is becoming more and more a shadow of the high hopes that people began the season with, it's heartening to see people go out and play the game hard. While it's easy to pitch well with a large lead, Steve Trachsel went out and pitched nine great innings and Timo Perez hustled out two triples as well. Perhaps at the end of this season, I may be able to look over this bunch of players and find one who is worthy to take Len Dykstra's old nickname, "Nails."

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