Barry Larkin Elevated The Shortstop Position

Barry Larkin Elevated The Shortstop Position

By Devon POV Mason | Contributor 

Barry Larkin wanted to be a shortstop ever since he was a kid watching his idol, Ozzie Smith, on television. Growing up in the Cincinnati suburbs, Larkin wanted to play for the legendary Cincinnati Reds and replace Dave Concepcion at short.

He says his dream was to replace Concepcion and then become the greatest shortstop in Reds history.

Via baseballhall.org:

“Born April 28, 1964, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Larkin was an honor student and athletic star at Cincinnati’s Moeller High School and enrolled at the University of Michigan with the idea of playing both baseball and football.

But when legendary UM football coach Bo Schembechler advised Larkin to redshirt his freshman year, Larkin’s path to Cooperstown began.”

 

After college, Larkin played on the 1984 US Olympic Team. When he got to the Reds, he eventually replaced Concepcion.

Larkin also wanted to wear No.1 to honor his idol Ozzie, but the equipment manager told Larkin the number was retired and permanently reserved for Fred Hutchinson.

Larkin had no idea who Hutchinson was, but he asked for No.11 to reinforce how much he admired and idolized “The Wizard of Ozzie”

 

Barry eventually wrestled the Gold Glove away from Ozzie, won an MVP Award, and had his number retired by the Reds also.

Of the great shortstops, Larkin possibly has the best compilation of skills: He could run as fast as teammate Eric Davis, he possessed the strongest arm among the shortstops of his generation —  and only Ozzie was better with the web.

 

 

A multi-faceted batter, Larkin concentrated on hitting for average, stealing bases and setting the table. But he was capable of going deep when the situation called for it. He stole 51 bases in 141 games, while winning the NL MVP in 1995, but for some reason was criticized for not driving in enough runs, so he came back the following season and banged all his critics in the head with 33 home run and 36 steals at the age of 32.

The Injury Bug

It’s hard to discuss Larkin without mentioning his injury-riddled history. He was placed on the disabled list fourteen times in his career. He only had 6 seasons where he didn’t spend time on the DL.

Those injuries  (legs, thumbs, knee, shoulders, and even his toe), sidelined him for 450 career games. That alone probably cost him another 450-500 hits with his batting prowess. The talent was always evident, but despite his HOF swag, and championship pedigree, he always faced criticism, and was even referred to as “Mr. Glass.”

He had to continuously prove himself and relied on a strong will to overcome setbacks.

Cooperstown Worthy 

Larkin was a 12-time All-Star, including his final season when he was still a valuable player. Despite his frequent absence from the lineup, Larkin was always a great teammate and team leader.

He was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012, following a career also garnered him an  MVP (1995), World Series Title (1990), three Gold Glove Awards and nine Silver Slugger Awards.

 

 

He was simply a stud up the middle and one of the finest examples of MLBbro excellence at the shortstop position.

Black Knight Tim Anderson Misses Consecutive Games With Body & Thumb Soreness

Black Knight Tim Anderson Misses Consecutive Games With Body & Thumb Soreness

There was a notable absence in the Chicago White Sox lineup on Wednesday and Thursday. Team spark plug, emotional leader, and perennial batting title-contender Tim Anderson has missed the last two games and Chicago has split those games. They were shut out by the Cardinals and defeated the hapless Orioles.

Anderson’s absence was notable as it came after a rare off day for the shortstop Wednesday.  With one of the most consistent players on the White Sox missing consecutive games, people started asking questions.

 

 

Manager Tony La Russa attributed Anderson’s absence to the typical toll a baseball season takes on a player’s body.

“He’s got a couple of sore spots, so we’re going to get him un-sore. Should be temporary,” La Russa said. “Just general soreness, the way I see it.”

The White Sox later relayed a message from Anderson, who described a bit of thumb soreness in addition to the general soreness and said he expects to return to the lineup Friday. Anderson isn’t a big guy, but he plays with a lion’s heart and he sacrifices his body to enhance the potency of his team on both sides of the ball. Let’s hope he gets the rest he needs to be back on the attack real soon.

With the White Sox leading by just one game in the AL Central, the franchise needs their MVP back in the fold soon. They can withstand a few games with TA, but any extended absence will be damaging to their current standing.

Tim Anderson| The Heart and Soul of Chicago Baseball

Tim Anderson| The Heart and Soul of Chicago Baseball

As shortstop Tim Anderson goes, so do the White Sox.

Once considered a raw power-hitting prospect with all the tools but lacking experience, Anderson has blossomed into one of the best pure hitters in baseball. He’s currently on an 11-game hitting streak and is batting .316. In fact, he’s hit in 22 of his last 25 games.

The rise of Tim Anderson as a face of baseball comes at a time where Black fans are longing for a reason to get back into the game. Tim has embraced that challenge, and the South Side of Chicago all in the same breathe.

“Every corner, you’re going to see a White Sox hat,” said Anderson. “I’m here to change the game. I’m here to show these kids that it’s OK, baseball’s cool, and you can play it.”

 

 

Since Opening Day, the Chicago White Sox have been one of the most discussed teams in the MLB. After years of rebuilding, Chicago is loaded with talent and poised to challenge for the American League pennant. 

The White Sox have the 5th-best hitting and pitching squads in baseball.  They also have a former batting champion and consistent party starter in Anderson and a Hall of Fame manager (Tony La Russa) who was called back into action to lead this squad to glory. 

But even with a roster loaded with 2020 AL MVP Jose Abreu and Cy Young contender Lucas Giolito, TA is one name that fans keep in mind when monitoring the success of these White Sox. 

And no, it’s not simply because of the bat-flips.

Over the past two seasons, the 2019 batting title winner has blossomed into one of the best pure hitters in baseball, and his charisma, talent, and emotion have had a drastic impact on the success of the White Sox. 

 

 

“I want to be the best, so I practice like it, and I think like it,” Anderson told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Confidence is always at an all-time high. I never lose. A guy might strike me out, but I got myself out. He didn’t get me out.”

Anderson’s swagger has been infectious, and as a result, the White Sox always look like a completely different team with him in the lineup.

On Saturday he swagged out his cleats in a Laker’s color scheme in honor of the late Kobe Bryant’s Hall of Fame induction.

 

 

The power he was originally known for is still there, but his approach at the plate has evolved. He can hurt opponents in a multiplicity of ways.

His ultra-aggressive hitting style is complemented by his silky smooth base running, as Anderson is currently 4th in the MLB in stolen bases. Let’s not forget his lethal glove. 

 

 

Since his return from the IL on Jackie Robinson Day, the White Sox are in first place in the AL Central and one of just two teams with a winning percentage greater than .600.  A team that once looked lost offensively has rebounded to have the highest run differential in all of baseball.

He continues to walk the walk and contribute to the culture and future of the game.  

LEOVICI x JP Crawford “42” Hoodie Honors Jackie Robinson

LEOVICI x JP Crawford “42” Hoodie Honors Jackie Robinson

In honor of Jackie Robinson Day on April 15th, the newly launched LEOVICI, is hooking up with Seattle Mariners Gold Glove shortstop J.P. Crawford to drop a limited edition LEOVICI x JP Crawford “42” hoodie. 

The garment features a black and white portrait of Jackie Robinson on a bone-colored hoodie. All proceeds will be donated to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

“As a company that prides itself on innovation, excellence, and its promise to disrupt “the way things are”, Robinson is not just one of our inspirations, but also one of our greatest heroes. His performance on the field speaks for itself,” says Brent Wheatley, founder of LEOVICI, a luxury menswear athletic brand manufacturer. 

 

Wheatley is a former professional baseball player who used his family’s career path as inspiration. Brent’s father, Bob was a co-owner of the golf apparel & lifestyle brand, TravisMathew, and Brent’s grandfather William was an original board member at Nike and was actively involved during its formative years.

Reflecting on Jackie Robinson and his legacy has inspired the brand to partner with the 26-tear-old Crawford. The rising star represents the next generation of legends in the making, as well as the continuation of the past 74 years of Black baseball excellence, dating back to 1947 when Robinson integrated the game, opening up the flood gates for Black talent that would go on to dominant baseball’s record books.

While also pushing the limits of what’s possible on a baseball diamond.

 

Crawford has also been impacted on and off the field by the life and actions of Robinson. When asked about his impact, Crawford, a descendant of interracial parents started off by stating, “without him I probably wouldn’t have been born, he broke barriers that were larger than baseball. That man changed the course of history… BY HIMSELF! He took on what so many people can’t even bear to take on a piece of.” 

That “42” hoodie is proper drip, from everything it represents to the face on the front to the company and the young Black Knight associated with the tribute wears.