Miguel Cabrera and Baseball's Team Mentality

Baseball is heating up, and New York Times contributor Doug Glanville says that even star players have to calibrate their talents to complement their teammates.

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Miguel Cabrera (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

On Friday night, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers earned a Triple Crown, but New York Times sports contributor Doug Glanville says that his real strength lies elsewhere. During a game that eventually led his team to what may ultimately become a championship win, Cabrera's natural talent had to come second to playing in unison with his teammates.

Baseball doesn't allow you to start at the top and get the idea that you're a one-man show. You must work your way through the minor leagues, honing skills both big and small, surrounded by players who are similarly adjusting. Then you must do it every day — not twice a week, not for just the summer, but when your arm hurts and you're missing a wedding and you haven't gotten a hit in five days. There are days when even someone as productive as Miguel Cabrera will look lost, overmatched, or just tired. Like anyone else, he has weaknesses. Pitch him up in the zone, and you may have a chance to get him out.

I had the pleasure of playing with Scott Rolen, currently on the just-eliminated Cincinnati Reds, when I was with the Philadelphia Phillies. I knew quickly that this was one of the most talented players I would ever see. One day, when we were playing the Expos in Montreal, Scott was leaning on the cage watching their star, Vladimir Guerrero, take batting practice. Everything Guerrero hit sounded as if he was swinging a redwood tree and hitting glass baseballs. Rolen stepped back from the batting cage and said, "He is so much better than I am it is ridiculous."

By that point in my career, I knew I was not going to be the guy hitting 40 home runs a year. I had to find a way to thrive with speed, defense, making contact and being smart on the bases. I would have to create my own "Triple Crown," based on my strengths, but without limiting my sense of possibility. Yet here was one of the best admitting he was only a shadow of our opponent.

Read Doug Glanville's entire piece in the New York Times.

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