i was listening to a pre-game show last night, before a baseball game on the radio. the guy interviewed was a higher-up in the angels' scouting system. he talked about how he would show up early to games in nowheresville, you-name-the-state, and watch players for things having to do with attitude, work ethic and how the players got along with the coaches, some of whom might give up on a player lacking, for example, "natural" talent.
this scout had snagged a couple key players from other teams' organizations, seeing in them intangibles missed or dismissed by other teams. he said - and this i know to be true - most players in AA (and AAA, of course) have the TALENT to get to the bigs; but what gets a player there, and what will keep him there, almost always boils down to how badly he wants it, which translates to work ethic.
david eckstein, for example (a player this scout had signed from the red sox system because they thought he might've plateaued at AAA pawtucket), has been instrumental in the angels' success (as has chon figgins, another signee under similar circumstances), and went 4 for 4 last night against pedro martinez.
eckstein looks like your small kid brother. showing it's not quite so easy to gauge heart as it is to time someone's 40.
incidentally, there is a story in today's LA Times, sports front page, on the problems with tiger woods' swing. in a quick perusal of the article it seemed mark o' meara was catching some flak, pertaining to the going-away of tiger's swing.