Baseball is a funny game. A team can load up on all the elite talent in the league, but still not win the World Series. Superstars do not ensure success on a baseball diamond. Rather, teams must have a certain edge in order to be successful. Last year’s Boston Red Sox showed the world that bringing energy to the ballpark every game can transform an organization seamlessly overnight.
With the acquisition of Adam Eaton over the winter, the Chicago White Sox acquired their leadoff man for years to come. With his ability to get on base and play quality defense, Eaton provides the most rock solid center fielder the Sox have had since Aaron Rowand. While Eaton’s superior athletic talent is a plus for the Sox, it’s something that won’t appear on the scorecard that should excite fans the most.
In 2005, as the White Sox were on their way to a World Series title, the organization released a marketing campaign centered on “Grinder Ball Rules”. Each “rule” described how that year’s team was different because they did whatever it took to win a ballgame. Whether it be running into a wall or throwing at an opposing hitter to send a message, the 2005 Sox symbolized the “win at any cost” frame of mind.
As the players on that team left the organization, so did that approach. By 2010, teams like the Minnesota Twins would throw at White Sox hitters, and the repercussions would not follow. With the exception of A.J. Pierzynski, no one was willing to lay their body on the line. Enter Eaton.
Eaton, or Spanky as teammates like to call him, is a grinder in every sense of the word. His charismatic approach to the game livens up every clubhouse he walks into. When the dog days of summer come around, Eaton will be the one modeling to his teammates what the game of baseball is all about.
The 2013 White Sox had a whole host of issues, one of them being the lack of desire they showed when the losing seemed like it would never end. This lack of focus translated into baserunning gaffes and defensive lapses that added to the pile up of losses.
Eaton’s approach to the game translates into him being the spark plug in the top of the order that can ignite the flame of the guys behind him. His .450 OBP and 105 stolen bases in four minor league seasons display his knack for getting on, getting over and getting in. In a lineup that features Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu, having a guy ahead of them that can get on consistently is key.
Spanky is destined to help in the turnaround of White Sox organization while having some fun in the process.