Bless you, Nick Swisher.
With the self-inflicted mess that baseball has made of its image in recent years, the innocence of the game, and the joy many of us always got from watching it over the years, has been lost. For too long we have been disappointed by one player another, from Mark McGwire to Alex Rodriguez.
Now, along comes Swisher. In the corporate, business-like, image-conscious world of the New York Yankees, Swisher sticks out. But not like a sore thumb. More like that guy in your office with the magnetic personality who seems to make every day just a little easier to get through. He always looks like he's having more fun than everybody else.
How can you not love this guy?
The first time he got to hit third in the Yankee lineup he exulted like a little kid, amazed at his good fortune.
When Andy Pettitte pitched 7 terrific innings a few nights ago, Swisher, a millionaire teammate, referred to him as 'Mr. Pettitte.'
When Xavier Nady got a night off recently Swisher wrapped him in towels on the bench to make sure he was comfy while watching the game.
The guy sits in the dugout chugging 'Red Bull' throughout games, and always looks and sounds wired. Like maybe someone should hide the Red Bull.
YES broadcaster Michael Kay related a story the other day in which he had asked Swisher how he always managed to look so relaxed on the field. Swisher, Kay said, told him that he simply envisions himself running around the backyard playing a glorified game of whiffle ball.
How can you not love that?
Back when Swisher was with the Oakland Athletics I can remember a friend of mine, a diehard Oakland fan, telling me how much he loved Swisher. I've always known Swisher was a good player. Now I know that my friend was talking about more, much more, than what Swisher does with a bat in his hands.
Swisher doesn't pose. He doesn't posture, taunt the opposition or go through a bunch of rehearsed, planned gyrations aimed at drawing attention to himself.
He is simply exuberant. He loves what he does, and he lets it show.
Swisher, even with the millions he has already made, has remembered that baseball is simply a game, and that many of us would give anything to have the opportunity to play it at the highest level.
The sport needs more players like him.