Paul Konerko Takes A Selfie, GIFts A Memory
Paul Konerko may not be a member of Generation Y or Z, but that does’t mean he’s not fond of the occasional selfie. This weekend in Tampa Bay, one lucky lady was fortunate enough to take a pic that she almost certainly shared via her favorite social networking site right away. MLB GIFs shared the heartwarming moment on Twitter Sunday morning for everyone to see.
It’s somewhat fitting to be writing about a “selfie” that Konerko took with a fan, because in reality, Major League Baseball has employed few players as selfless as Paul Konerko during his 18 year career. This display is yet another example of why the south side of Chicago will sorely miss their captain after this season. Konerko has always played for, and given back to, the city and its fans.
He is, without a doubt, one of the most universally respected players in MLB. He has never sought the limelight, deferring praise to his coaches and teammates when that light is cast upon him, but he has never shied away from the fans or city that appreciates him the most.
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He has gone about his career with a blue collar determination that has endeared him to his Midwestern fan base. When Paul Konerko strikes out, he doesn’t argue, and when he homers, he puts his head down, briskly jogging around the bases. No complaints, no showboating. Just business as usual. He’s doesn’t jaw at pitchers and umpires, but he will have a friendly conversation with a familiar opponent on first.
These, and a plethora of others, are actions that speak louder than any words of his ever could during his sixteen years in Chicago. Even his fiercest rivals voiced their respect for him. Paul Sullivan, from The Chicago Tribune, wrote about Konerko’s Top 10 Moments this weekend. A couple of those moments spoke volumes about Konerko’s professional legacy. It’s one thing for White Sox fans and the organization to give ringing endorsements of their own player, it’s something else entirely for his competition to do it.
As a member of the cross-town rival Chicago Cubs in 2012, Jeff Samardzija hit Konerko in the side of the face with an 85-mph splitter, forcing the first baseman to exit the game. MLB.com reported after the contest that Samardzija conveyed his regret for plunking Paulie and his opinion of the White Sox slugger.
"“There are a lot of superstars in this league who put up big numbers and get paid a lot of money and Paulie is one of those guys who does that and is a superstar and does it the right way. He’s not about the show or himself… The ball got away and unfortunately it hit him up high. If I could take it back I would.”"
Two years earlier, in 2010, Minnesota Twins’ pitcher Carl Pavano tagged Konerko with a pitch to the mouth that would have had this writer crying for his mommy. What did Konerko do? He stuck a piece of gauze in his nose and took his base, as reported by ESPN.com. Two innings later he came back to the scene of the crime and hit a solo home run off Pavano. How did Carl react? He sent a note of apology to Paulie after the game.
Someday very soon, amidst the remembrance and memories, the Tom Verducci’s and Buster Olney’s of the world will fill their columns and air-time debating Konerko’s Hall of Fame credentials. He doesn’t own a .300+ lifetime batting average like The Captain, Derek Jeter, who has garnered a lion’s share of the retirement tour attention this season, but he has totaled 439 HR, 1412 RBI, and a lifetime OPS (On-base plus slugging percentage) of .842 to date; all better than the famous shortstop was able to produce.
After 6 All-Star appearances, 3 division titles, and Chicago’s first World Series title in 88 years, our captain still feels the need to live up to his end of the bargain until his very last out. In a recent interview with Chuck Gafrien, from CSNChicago, Konerko conveyed a level of concern while commenting on his last upcoming game as a professional Sunday, September 28th, intimating that, “I just hope I don’t let anybody down.” To that sentiment I can’t help but answer his concern as a fan.
Don’t worry Paulie, you could go 0-5 with 5 Ks next Sunday and there would still not be an ounce of disappointment in the heart of any fan, there would only be appreciation. Appreciation for your loyalty, hard work, dedication, skill, your toughness, and for one lady in St. Petersburg, Florida, last Saturday evening, your selfie.