September 08, 2011
Now, I'm not normally in the business of describing things as "cute," but there's no doubt this qualifies. We so often lose sight of our ballplayers as actual people and I love those opportunities when we get to see behind the curtain.
Sure, the Texas Rangers catcher might wield a big bat, own a deep bank account and possess an ability to attract beautiful women, but he's really just still a guy with a proud grandfather who does things like make a homemade sign for a pro game like it's high school level and then gets plenty excited when his progeny parks a ball over the left-field fence.
It's not too hard to imagine my grandfather doing the same — perhaps it's the same for you — and it's exactly what happened to Napoli when he hit a homer during the Rangers' 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday afternoon.
At least I assume that's Napoli's grandfather. I'm really not sure why anyone else at Tropicana Field would have made a sign alerting Mike to the fact his grandfather made the drive two hours south and was sitting elsewhere. (Judging from the crowd, a sign probably wasn't necessary to stand out to the players on the field.)
While we're on the subject, has there been a more underrated offseason acquisition this year than the Rangers scooping up Napoli from Toronto after he was traded from the Angels as part of the Vernon Wells(notes) deal? After Wednesday's game, he's hitting .302/.398/.597 with 24 homers and 62 RBIs over 97 games. Despite missing some time to an oblique strain, he's already compiled a career-high WAR of 4.4, a total that's more than the current difference in the AL West standings.
In other words, his grandfather has plenty of reasons to proudly announce his presence at Wednesday's game. Maybe the upcoming postseason, too, if he can make the trip from Ocala.