In honor of Nick Punto Day, I am submitting my very first FanPost for Twinkie Town to post my thoughts on possibly the most hotly-debated Twin for the last few years: Nick Punto. You either love him or you love to hate him. It's tough to fall really in the middle on Little Nicky Punto. (And if you do fall in the middle, be prepared to hear it from BOTH the lovers and the haters.) But one thing is true for all; Twins fans love to talk about Nick Punto, as evidenced by the fact that we are all dedicating a whole day to talk about LNP, when we still don't even have the Joe Mauer extension done. I mean seriously, think about all of those hours you yourself have spent talking about this guy, or reading articles about him. The Punto-lovers will channel Ron Gardenhire and tell you about his scrappiness and his hustle. The Punto-haters will pound you with every stat in the book (and then some that aren't).
Let me start off by telling you a little about myself. I am 25 years old. I just graduated from college, and now I work at a desk job, building websites all day. I don't have any particular skills that are amazing or awe-inspiring, but I still show up to work each and every day, put everything I have into it, and try to do the best job that I can do for my company.
And I think this explains why I like Nick Punto.
One thing that the lovers and the haters can all agree on, I think, is that Punto is not the most amazing baseball player ever. I don't think anyone is trying to make that argument, and if you are, I don't know if we can have a conversation, because I'm pretty sure you must be living in some alternate reality (have you seen Lost?).
But the point is, I like Nick Punto because I can see a bit of myself in the way he plays. He's not massively talented. He's not the fastest guy, or the strongest guy (exception: forearms), or the most athletic guy. But he shows up to work every day and (ready for some Ron Gardenhire?) "battles his tail off." He does the best that he can do and tries to help the team win however he can.
Yes, he is inconsistent (to put it nicely) with the bat. Yes, he dives into first base (which I still see the logic on). Yes, he will strikeout or bounce into that double play and make you shake your head and yell at the TV, causing everyone else in the room to look at you strangely and wonder if you need medication (....what?).
But once in a while, he makes that amazing defensive play (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) that makes your eyeballs pop out of your head. Once in a while, that dive into first base keeps a rally going late in the game, or just takes a lot of pitches and gets on base with a walk. Once in a while, he drops down that picture perfect bunt, or at least one good enough to drive in a run. And sometimes, he even gives you the lead in the eighth inning of an ALDS game against the Yankees. But he always shows up to play. And he's almost always going to make the right play at the right time. And he doesn't make excuses when he's not on his game.
We all know that he's not going to be winning any MVP awards. Hell, he might not even have a starting job this year. And he knows it, too. But I guarantee you one thing. Whatever role he plays this year, he's going to work his butt off, play hard, and try to make the team better. He's not going to whine if he is on the bench. He's not going to make drama in the clubhouse. He's not going to blame something or someone else if he sucks. He's just going to do the best he can in whatever role he gets placed. And there is something admirable about a guy who just shuts up and goes about his work.
Or at least I hope so, for my sake.
Now go on. Try the Kool-Aid. You'll like it.