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Likeability

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I forgot to mention this earlier, so I'm mentioning it now.

One of my favorite things about this Marlins team is just how likeable so many of the guys are. Last night was a great example:

After the playing of the national anthem, but before the game started, Miguel Cabrera (who wasn't playing, but was still in uniform) came out of the dugout and signed autographs for as many people as he could before the game started.

Apparently Cabrera hasn't received his "major league cool" training yet, as most major leaguers of his stature would have been hiding out in the clubhouse at that point - watching a movie or playing Playstation. Not Cabrera though - at least not last night - and I thought that was cool.

It also reminded me of the first time I ever saw Dontrelle Willis in person (not in a game he pitched, just the first time I saw him at the park after he'd been called up). This was the infamous Saturday night game in May, about two years ago, against the Rockies - the game that would be Jeff Torborg's last as Marlins' manager.

Willis had just been called up and had already pitched a game or two (yes, I know I could look up all the specifics on Retrosheet but I'm not going to). Apparently he hadn't gotten his major league cool training by then either (actually, I still don't think he's had it). Not only did he do what Cabrera did last night (signing autographs right before the game) - he actually went one step farther.

After batting practice ended and all the other Marlins retreated into the dugout, Dontrelle stood just outside the Marlins' dugout and soaked in the scene. Eventually he, and a group of nearby kids, realized what was happening and they started to ask for his autograph. This was May of 2003 though, so there weren't many people there and fulfilling all the autograph requests didn't take long. Dontrelle hung around anyway. Eventually a little kid walked up - apparently just to sit in his seat. With apparently nothing better to do, Dontrelle asked the little boy if he'd like an autograph. The little boy, obviously stunned, took him up on it.

Dontrelle was so new to the majors at that point and the boy was so little that I doubt the kid knew who the D-Train was. Still, it was refreshing to see a major league ballplayer take the time to do something like that. It's not exactly everyday that you see something like that.

But when we do (like this, or the stories of Todd Jones and Jimmy Rollins entertaining the fans in Philly with gum and baseballs during the rain delay), the stories should be told and shared - if only so that we don't think of these guys as overpaid, pampered prima-donnas. The reality is that they're often not that at all (certainly Cabrera and Willis aren't overpaid) - it's just that we don't get the chance to see it.