Jeff asked for some pinch-hitting this week, and so I thought I'd throw out a couple of new things together with something that I never got around to publishing last spring ... all along the same theme.
Clearly, the difference between a Michelangelo and a mediocrity is in the margins -- in the fractions of inches.
The whole "lump-of-marble-to-something-relatively-humanoid" trick may not be that easy, but it's a lot easier than the "make-it-a-masterpiece" part.
We can posit that every pro team and major college program gets access to the marble or the clay or the blank canvas.
But who will be Van Gogh and who will be some guy named Vinnie?
First, a bit that was buried near the end of a sidebar on college signing day, from the coach of the Friendly Neighborhood Big Ten Institution of Higher Learning and Football in my state. But I found it fascinating.
I had never seen a coach go into such detail about the importance of cornerbacks, in particular, but also such detail about what specific traits he looks for in a cornerback. Here's the whole quote:
“You don’t have to be the fastest guy, but you have the great ability to transition,” he said. “How you handle your body (and) your feet is really the key. How fast you can basically go from backwards to transitioning to running and being full speed is a real key issue. You do not have to be the fastest guy, but you have to be a good, fluid athlete.
“We like a guy with ball skills. I know that he doesn’t have to have the ball skills necessarily to be a receiver, but he has to have great hand-eye coordination. A lot of times, they are in awkward situations and their ability to get one finger on the ball and make a play can be the difference in a game. They have to be able to handle their body and have good ball skills, great feet, and body control.
“Probably what trumps everything is they have to understand the position they are playing. The ramifications of a mistake or a not very smart play at corner are very, very costly. It might cost you 5 yards in the defensive line and it may cost you a game at corner.”
Second, a commercial from Julian Edelman, who plays (let's face it) "Welker" for the Patriots (maybe one of the few positions in sports defined by a person who played it?). It turns out Edelman is kind of a jerk in the real world and maybe not the sharpest arrow in the quiver, but the video itself -- involving Edelman reading negative scouting reports from when he was an undersized quarterback entering the 2009 draft -- is priceless.
Of course, everyone passed on Edelman except the Patriots.
Finally, an unpublished bit from last spring that I wrote up about Andy Van Slyke: