Dustin Pedroia and Baseball's Most 'Old-School' Players in Today's Game
Old school baseball. It means no batting gloves, choking up on the bat and not being afraid to get your uniform dirty. Over the years, the game of baseball has lost some of that "tough-as-nails" mentality, as players hide behind body armor and pitch counts.
But even in today's game, there are some players that embody the old-school approach, players such as Dustin Pedroia. The Red Sox second baseman is just one example of a player that is a throwback to yesteryear. Here's a closer look at Pedroia and some other old-school ballplayers.
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At 5'8" and 165 pounds, Dustin Pedroia doesn't exactly strike fear or intimidation into his opponents. But he is the epitome of tough, and plays with the biggest heart in the game.
The second baseman for the Red Sox, Pedroia is not above playing with a broken finger, or a sore oblique. Heck, you can probably take away one of his legs, and he'd still be out there at second base.
His uniform is always dirty, even if he's not in the lineup. His playing style resembles that of Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, and Cooperstown-hopeful Craig Biggio. He's a gamer, and it takes a great deal to not have the 29-year-old in the Boston lineup.
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For the longest time, the New York Yankees were not exactly a "small ball" team, which pretty much speaks for the American League as a whole. With the designated hitter position in the AL, bunting has become somewhat of a diminished art.
But Brett Gardner has not let that stop him from being an old-school type player, slapping the ball around to all fields. And he's not afraid to lay down a bunt for a base hit every so often.
Gardner can also be seen often laying himself out in the outfield, having no regard for himself, to catch a fly ball. His speed is a bonus. But it's his hard-nosed effort that gives him a very Lenny Dykstra-esque feel.
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Arguably the best starter in the game today, Justin Verlander is an absolute force on the mound. The right-handed ace of the Detroit Tigers does whatever it takes to win, and he has won...a lot.
Verlander, just 30 years old, already has two no-hitters on his ledger, to go along with an AL Rookie of the Year award, MVP and Cy Young award (the latter two coming in the same season in 2011). Verlander has a career .657 winning percentage, and well over 1,500 strikeouts.
What makes Verlander such a throwback is his ability to throw as many pitches in a game as necessary. For instance, if his club is up 3-0 in the ninth inning, Verlander will most likely be back out on the mound, even if he's well over the "average" pitch count for this day and age.
And his velocity seemingly increases as the game goes on. Even at 120 pitches, he can rear back and let loose a 95 mph-plus fastball. He's a dominant force, and features similar intimidation to legends such as Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan.
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Bryce Harper is only in his second season in the big leagues. But already, he's left an impression of do-or-die, of play hard or go home.
In mid-May this year, Harper went face first into the scoreboard in right field at Dodger Stadium, trying to track down a fly ball. Harper's unsuccessful attempt resulted in a jammed shoulder and 11 stitches to his chin/neck region.
And though he left the game, you can be sure that Harper would have preferred to remain in the game, with his battle wounds and all.
Harper is also an intimidating presence in the batter's box, particularly on days when he wears his mask-like eye paint. He's unique to today's game, but the 20-year-old's rough-yet-arrogant playing style can be compared to the likes of Rickey Henderson.