FPF: My baseball crush - Forget long balls, I want leather

I'm guessing no one will be surprised that my favorite player that no one else likes is Paul Janish. He's my current baseball crush.

Why? I dunno, he's just my type. I tend toward "Second Banana Syndrome" - I'm more interested in the secondary characters, rather than the primary one(s). The backups, not the stars. I guess I carry "rooting for the underdog" a lot farther than most.

I've been following Janish's career for quite a while. He was on the Rice University World Series Championship team.


("Wiess" is the name of his house. Rice, like Harvard - and Hogwarts - has different houses students are sorted into. No magical hat involved, so far as I know.)

Wayne Graham, Rice's long-time head coach, has said Janish is the best defensive infielder he's ever seen, in college or the pros.

Shortly after he was first called up to AAA.


Man, I was a sucky photographer back then. I think I was still shooting in sports mode.

Spring training, 2009. The last year the Reds had spring training in Sarasota.


I don't think the Reds ever really expected Janish to be a starter. He was drafted with the idea that they could convert him to pitching if the shortstop thing didn't work out. (He was Rice's closer.) He hit just well enough to stick at shortstop, and eventually did get a chance to be the starter. It didn't go well, and Dusty Baker was probably not the right manager for that experiment.

Among the highlights: the 4th of July game when Joey Votto was ejected in the first inning for arguing balls and strikes, Janish took his spot, and went 4 for 4 with a home run. And a couple of games where Janish volunteered to be the disaster relief pitcher, sparing the pen when the game was hopelessly out of reach. He put up a 49.50 ERA, but Driveline Mechanics thought he had enough zip and movement that the Reds should convert him to pitching.

Me, I'm not that into pitching. Perhaps because I was a late convert to baseball, and pitching is harder to appreciate if you're not a hardcore fan. This chick doesn't particularly dig the long ball, either. I like defense. Plays like these are the reason I'm a Janish fan:

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