For North Texans, praise for Michael Young is such a longstanding practice that it often seems trite, an unremarkable statement of the obvious.
Since 2003, Young had posted 200 hits and a .300 average each season for Texas, including a 2005 campaign that saw the then-shortstop post 221 hits and a .331 average to capture the batting title. This streak ended in 2008, as Young had a (ahem) "down year," hitting .284, with 183 hits. He redeemed himself however by winning his first career Gold Glove that season.
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Young has played at least 150 games since 2002; he played in all 162 in 2006. He has been an all-star each season since 2004.
Okay, we get it, Michael Young is good at baseball. And, considering these numbers (Young has 100 hits and a .313 average as of 7-7-09), the fact that Young is an all-star again is not particularly noteworthy. It is no surprise, whatsoever.
What makes this year remarkable, in short, is that Young changed positions almost seamlessly--for the second time in his career--and almost silently, nodding his head, as he always does, to what's best for the team. There was some talk of Young throwing the gauntlet at the feet of Rangers' management initially; this was both short lived and understandable. Texas seemed for a short time perhaps, to have asked too much of Young, who felt, rightfully so, that he had earned the starting shortstop spot if he so chose.
The controversy was predictable, considering Young's resume, and the fact that he was coming off a Gold Glove season at shortstop to make room for an unproven 20 year-old. However, equally predictable was Young's ultimate decision to rescind his trade demand.
Young, of course, put his head down, providing leadership and an all-star third baseman for a young team that, a week away from the break, is in the thick of a ultra-competitive AL West race.
Indeed, what makes this all-star selection remarkable is its utter predictability, at least for the North Texans who have spent an immoderate amount of time watching him play over the last nine years or so.
In that vein, we should take care not to take the predictably-awesome, exhaustingly-consistent Young for granted. What this season would have looked like had Young decided to leave in January, no one knows. Lucky for us, we won't ever know.
Because Young put any issue of pride or entitlement aside for the betterment of the team last winter.
How very heartening.
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