Relive Mark Kotsay's 2006 ALDS inside-the-park homer -- a master class in hustle
To have watched Mark Kotsay play baseball was to see the physical embodiment of hustle on the field, every day. In 17 Major League seasons, Kotsay posted a cumulative 21.5 WAR for his efforts, even earning some AL MVP considerations for a strong 2004 season with the A's.
Today, Kotsay (who will be the A's Major League quality control coach in 2018) celebrates his 42nd birthday, so it's as good a time as any to revisit arguably the finest example of his all-or-nothing hustle and determination. Injuries limited him to just 129 games for the 2006 AL West-winning A's, but he had plenty in the tank during Game 2 of the ALDS against the Twins in Minnesota.
With the game tied at two in the top of the seventh, Kotsay laced a line drive toward Torii Hunter in center field. Hunter dove but came up short -- and the ball began rolling ... and rolling ... all the way to the wall. With catcher/fellow hustle advocate Jason Kendall leading the way, Kotsay put on the afterburners and soared around the bases for a clutch go-ahead two-run inside-the-park homer. He celebrated in kind after crashing into home plate:
That's some well-earned jubilation, capitalizing on a great opportunity in what proved to be the game-changing moment of the afternoon. The A's won the game, 5-2, and then wrapped up the series in Game 3 back in Oakland two days later.
The one-two punch of Kendall and Kotsay put on a hustle clinic throughout their time with the A's. Here's Kendall doing his thing in 2005, winning a game by scurrying home after Francisco Rodriguez dropped the ball:
Remember, kids: Always hustle. Always.