Just when it appears that the Donald Sterlings are going to drown the sports world in their moral quagmire along comes someone who embodies everything we love about athletic competition. Mike Trout is that someone.
In his too-brief visit home last week, the Millville, N.J. kid disappointed no one with his stunning skills on the field and his humble demeanor off it. At 22, he may still develop the arrogant detachment from fans that so many rich baseball players adopt, but it is far more likely that Trout will be honoring the game – and the Delaware Valley – for the rest of his life.
Six years ago, Trout had to celebrate the championship of his beloved Phillies outside Citizens Bank Park because he couldn’t afford a ticket to the fifth game of the World Series. Now, after signing a $145-million contract and earning the distinction as the best player in baseball, he is the game’s proudest representative.
His best moment during the two-game sweep by the Angels came when he approached the plate for his first at-bat and the astounding crowd of 41,959 gave the hometown hero a standing ovation. He said the reception gave him “chills,” and brought back memories of the time, not so long ago, when he was sitting in those seats himself.
The next day, I was there when he launched a towering drive to center field, and I found myself rooting for him, even though he was facing the Phillies. When he reached third base with a triple – running hard every step, of course – I found myself cheering, as did thousands of others.
If Mike Trout truly is the future of baseball – and of all sports, for that matters – everything should be just fine after all.