(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Crash Davis Gets Called Up

Okay, so he's not a career minor league catcher, but he's making it to the bigs because he can play the position.

You probably haven't heard of this guy, and chances are that you'll forget about him shortly after he's gone. And the bet here is that he might not last out the season, because his team is pretty good and, with a few timely hits and key pitches here and there, could contend for a wild card spot. But here he is, at the ripe old age of 33, making his debut in the majors for the Philadelphia Phillies. His name -- Chris Coste.

No, he wasn't shot as a young boy headed to Rookie League, didn't drift for a while and doesn't have a customized bat he carved out of a tree that was hit by lightning that he carries around in a violin case. He's a career minor-leaguer, a guy who hit .463 in spring training only to lose out on a roster spot because the Phillies traded for David Dellucci right before the season began. It's just the case that if you didn't get to the majors earlier in your career, a team that thinks it could contend doesn't opt for 33 year-old rookies whose best days are in the rear-view mirror.

So they sent Chris Coste down to Scranton-Wilkes Barre, the Phils' AAA affiliate, to catch and play other positions. While he didn't fret about the demotion, he hasn't excelled at AAA, either, hitting .177, ratifying the big club's decision not to promote him for a spring's worth of torrid offense. Yet, with starter Mike Lieberthal on the DL and catchers Sal Fasano and rookie Carlos Ruiz not making anyone forget about Mickey Cochrane and Andy Seminick, let alone Bo Diaz and Bob Boone, and with Fasano taking a ball into his cup region the other night and ailing as a result, and with back-up infielder Alex (the former Blue Jays' starting SS) Gonzalez deciding to retire, the hometown squad had a roster spot open.

Enter Chris Coste, especially because he can catch.

It may be that he's up for two weeks, or it may be that he's up for two months, but this is a feel-good story for 2006 for Major League Baseball. For every veteran who doesn't appreciate what he has, there are dozens of Chris Costes who never get there and who would give anything to get on a Major League roster, even if only for one game. The promotion of Chris Coste is a tribute to the determination of the workmanlike player, no matter how short-lived his stay might prove to be.

Welcome to the big leagues, Mr. Coste.


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