Ed: Kirsten is most likely on a beach in Cabo drinking a margarita and reading a book that has nothing to do with law at the moment, which means that our guest-written series of Player In My Pocket posts continues once again this week. Today's post is written by Jason Chalifour, well know commenter in these parts and the man who previously brought us A Villa Festivus. Thanks Jason!)
I spent a summer in college as a Merchandise Intern for the Aberdeen Ironbirds in Aberdeen, MD. My duties consisted of working in the team shop 90 hours a week and spending 75% of my time doing absolutely nothing. Out of sheer boredom I was following the MLB draft.
My Red Sox did not have a pick until the 2nd round that year. MLB.com had scouting videos and thumbnails on all of the top prospects. With their pick the Sox selected a diminutive shortstop from Arizona State that I had never heard of. The scouting videos showed he had a natural line drive swing and soft hands. Mildly intrigued I read the thumbnail scouting report. Initially it confirmed what I saw in the videos, but the last line was "Guy you want on your team."
That is why Michael Bradley is the Player in my Pocket. Player in my Pocket does not mean the best player, and it does not have to be a person’s favorite player. That line from the scouting report stayed with me. As fans we all want that type of player wearing our colors or representing our city. The guy who plays his ass off 110% percent of the time, earns the undying respect of his teammates, never quits, and would seemingly die for the uniform. When I watch the United States play he’s the player that fits that description the most.
While skilled on the ball and in finishing, Michael’s favorite part of the game is tackling. It is cliché to say that somebody cares more about the team than individual glory when they are praised, especially by the media, but in this case it is true. The son of a coach, football is practically his life. This is often the case with the children of players and coaches. When you grow up with the game around you all the time, maybe hang out in the locker room and during practice, that passion can stay with you.
Sadly many of these qualities that landed Michael in my pocket have been lacking from our beloved Villa. As a fan I love to have the player on my team that needs to be held back by teammates and about half a dozen stewards after a match as he challenges the other team to defend a teammate. Unfortunately I can’t see anybody on Villa doing that. Our players seem to prefer confrontations with the manager and staff as opposed to the opposition. If I am carrying anybody in my overstuffed pocket (I refuse to put my wallet in my back pocket) it is going to be somebody who is a warrior on the pitch.
That is not to say that the players are not passionate and have lacked effort, however it is alarming the frequency that a club with the quality and ambition of Villa do capitulate. We all know about 7-1 at Chelsea last year and 6-0 at Newcastle this year, but this has also manifested in the innumerable points dropped from winning positions. It is to the point that even when things go well the players, and even the fans expect things to go poorly. If and when they do go poorly I will have Michael in my pocket and can watch him in one of the dozen or two meaningful matches the United States play every four years. His club in Germany, Borussia Mönchengladbach appear doomed to relegation, with any luck we will see him in the Premier League next year.
As for the Shortstop, he turned into a fairly decent Second Baseman.