Insightful Insights, w/ Tracy Ringolsby

Tracy Ringolsby, the 2005 recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, presented at the Baseball Hall of Fame, has covered Major League Baseball since 1976. He offers his insight on MLB.com and MLB.com/live.

Recently, Tracy Ringoldsby offered his insight on the career of Mark Kotsay, with the help of some choice quotes from Kotsay himself.

Let’s savor a few of these insights together in a scintillating session of Insightful Insights, w/ Tracy Ringolsby:

Mark Kotsay is a baseball lifer.

And the game is better for it.

So here’s some of that insightful insight already — this insight is about how to write good articles: Open with not one, but two one-sentence paragraphs, no more than seven words each. Classic dramatic bomb dropping. Get the readers’ panties wet.

At the age of 37, Kotsay is getting ready for his 18th season in pro ball, including 17 in the big leagues. He has become the sage in the San Diego Padres’ clubhouse.

Whenever a position player has a question, Kotsay has a life experience he can relate.

Like when Padres’ minor leaguer Shakey Bertson asked Kotsay about crack cocaine, and Kotsay said, “I tried crack once.” Bertson was floored. “I’d never met someone who’d tried crack before,” Bertson said. “Now I have. Now I feel like I know all about crack, thanks to Kots’y.”

Kotsay has been a regular. He’s been an extra man. Kotsay was a first-round Draft choice of the Marlins in 1996, the ninth player taken overall. He won the Golden Spikes Award as the best player in college baseball, and was the Most Outstanding Player of the ’95 College World Series, when he was the center fielder and closer on Cal State Fullerton’s third national championship team.

Kotsay has played for seven big league teams, and he is spending the spring preparing for the second season of his second tour of duty with the Padres. He was part of the Marlins team that lost a franchise-record 108 games in 1998, and was part of postseason teams with Oakland in 2006, Boston in ’08 and Milwaukee in ’11.

Thank you for listening. This has been another edition of “Tracy Ringolsby Reads Facts from a Baseball Player’s Wikipedia Page.”

Kotsay has batted leadoff, eighth and every spot in between.

Also, Mark Kotsay has 150 Plate Appearances batting 9th in a Major League lineup. It seems funny to leave that out when you’re trying to make a point about a guy playing in a lot of different contexts, but maybe this is yet another insightful insight that Tracy Ringolsby is trying to share: when a player bats 9th, that doesn’t matter. In fact, it literally doesn’t count towards his career stats.

…”The game has been good to me,” Kotsay said. “I respect it. I respect the people involved. My career has given me a chance to experience different situations. I have experienced the highs and lows. I have been injured. If I can help a teammate, it’s the least I can do.

“I usually let them approach me, unless it’s an in-game situation.”

Once the approach is made, the guidance is delivered.

I get the sense that Tracy Ringolsby, who has written about baseball since 1976, identifies with Kotsay. Ringolsby, like Kotsay, delivers guidance on how to think about baseball once a person approaches his mlb.com articles.

Additional insight for writers: One good sentence structure, to let the reader know you’re establishing a cause and effect relationship, is “Once something is something, something else is the something else, too.”

As Padres teammate Kyle Blanks put it, Kotsay is “someone who has absolutely mastered his craft.”

Kyle Blanks must be referring to the craft of being an average baseball player; Kotsay, what with his career tOPS+ at exactly 100, is the perfect example of said.

Kotsay isn’t close to being done yet. He wants to play as long as he can, and once retirement beckons, he will have plenty of opportunities to extend his career.

“I might take maybe a summer off,” Kotsay said. “I haven’t had a summer to myself since I was a freshman in high school, so that would be interesting. After that . . . the game has blessed me with an incredible life.”

“He has that innate sense for the game,” said Boston special assignment scout Gary Hughes, who was Florida’s scouting director when the Marlins originally signed Kotsay. “You watch him and say, ‘He’s a baseball player.’…

If you watch him while he’s playing baseball, yes, it’d be pretty hard not to say that about him, and if you are watching him otherwise — why are you doing that?

…And Kotsay enjoys the game, so much.

“I love what I do,” he said of his continuing pursuit of a big league job. “I know the competitive aspect of life drives me. The game fulfills that. It’s better than a round of golf.

Insight: Kotsay loves the game of baseball so much that he thinks it’s better than a round of golf. Whew!

Additional insight for writers, here, on how to pick an illustrative quote and extrapolate from it.

Thank you, this has been Insightful Insights, w/ Tracy Ringolsby.

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