Knowing a ‘scrap-pah’ when you see one
Out here in the boondock bleachers, calling a player “scrappy” is the equivalent of placing a halo around his head and putting a “Saint” in front of his name. If you see anyone disagree with that assessment, you can bet he was exiled from his field level box seat for being too snooty even for the folks sitting there sipping champagne and noshing on escargot.
I imagine that scrappy originally had something to do with the willingness of a junkyard dog to fight anything or anyone to a standstill for the merest scrap of something that looked like food. Players with that sort of intensity will get approving nods and pronouncements from any “bleach-cheering” crowd.
“Yessir, that boy is a scrap-pah, he is.” Notice that this judgment, as all serious judgments should be, is uttered in something like a New England accent. You can always tell a “prop-pah” New England accent because everything that should end in -er always ends in -ah, or -aah if you’re from Maine, thus making your pronouncement, no matter how full of bunk it happens to be, sound like home-spun, Down East, honest folk wisdom rather than the total rot it probably is.
That doesn’t mean, though, that the scrappy fellow in question is undeserving of his bleacher sainthood. In the case of the Yankee’s Brent Gardiner, he may be the only one on his team who is.
Gardiner is a South Carolina boy who was undersized and undervalued throughout his amateur career. That didn’t stop him, and now the 38 year old has spent a long career, ironically, with the Yankees.
In the first inning of a recent game with the Mets, he showed why he has been able to stay in the bigs. He hit a good pitch, hard, the other way, into the left field corner. The ball rattled around a bit, but Gardiner put the jets to his middle-aged legs and made it to third when just about anyone else would have been satisfied standing up into second. Aaron Judge, the next batter, grounded out to second, but with the Mets playing back, Gardiner scored easily.
The fact that the Yankees got blown out didn’t matter to us in the bleachers. “Yessir, that boy is for sure a Scrap-pah.” Too bad there’s not a Delta variant to make it more infectious; the Yanks could use a solid case of scrappiness to push themselves into the post-season.
Millerton resident Theodore Kneeland is a former teacher and coach — and athlete.