The Ultimate Teammate

On this day where I celebrate the eighteenth anniversary with my ultimate life teammate, it is time for some audience participation. Readers, show us what you have. How do you define a teammate? Is the ultimate teammate one who always comes through in the clutch when the game is on the line? Or is the ultimate teammate one who consistently does the dirty work – that player who makes all the little plays that contribute to the common good? Is the ultimate teammate the player who takes the pressure off the rest of the team? How does that player deflect the pressure? Pick one player and define the ultimate teammate.

At the risk of stunning everyone on the Clipboard – Tino Martinez fits my description of the ultimate teammate. Constantino went from the player who hurt the opposition when they ‘least expected it,’ to the guy his teammates could rely on to make the play his team needed. In ’95 Martinez led the Mariners over the Yanks in the ALDS. He hit .409 with a round-tripper and 5 RBI. Those numbers didn’t make Tino the next Mr. October, but his efforts earned a contract with the dreaded Bronx Bombers. There Martinez anchored a lineup that won four World Series’ rings.

Tino never won a batting title, never led the league in HR’s or RBI, never won a Gold Glove. He did lead the league in sac flies in 1997 and finished second in MVP voting that year (others have been able to parlay a second place in MVP voting to a contract worthy of a hall-of-famer). Not Tino. He just went about his business winning chan’ships. As a Sock fan I was happy when the Yanks’ front office decided to let the thirty-three-year-old first baseman go. Tino always managed to keep a rally going whether with a single, walk, or HBP. He did what the team needed. Tino never won a Gold Glove, but he always made the late-inning stab of a hit destined for a double.

Since Tino’s departure from NYC, the Yanks have been counting the days ‘til #27. Sure other bigger names have left the Bronx. Headline grabbing free agents have come to the Bronx, but none have been able to bring a title. The Yanks brought Martinez back for a swan song in ’05. It was a case of a ‘little too little; little too late.’ The Yanks have tried to find a first baseman who can field his position AND hit like Tino, the ultimate teammate.

Who is your ultimate teammate?

3 Responses to "The Ultimate Teammate"

  1. The Thrilla in Manilla   November 11, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Derek Jeter, Is by far the ultimate teammate in the last 15 years,

    Not far behind and gaining ground however Big Papi

    In Football, Moose Johnson of the Dallas Cowboys, Or Teddy “Brewski”

  2. Z Dubbs   November 11, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    I would say that the best teammate is one who not only performs at a high level, but one who also makes everyone else around them better.

    Jordan and Duncan come to my mind: proven winners who are not only amazing in their own right but make everyone else on the court better as well.

  3. Aaron   November 11, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    If you talk about Tino Martinez, I think you have to mention Scot Brosius and Paul O’Neil in the same sentence..

    For me, Jason Varitek comes to mind. Numbers are not flashy and his value goes well behind the numbers. His teammates love him, pitchers come to Boston to pitch to him and the fact that Red Sox organization is talking extension at his age – speaks volumes.

    Never is a rah-rah guy an may never be a HOF. But by the time his career is done in Boston he will be a legend and his number might be hanging in right field.

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