Time to go cyclin’

Last night was like very old times for me. I sat on the couch watching the A’s-Red Sox go into extra-innings, and when Mark Ellis batted twice with a chance to get the cycle, I found myself yelling at the TV. First, I was ticked that his sharp grounder to third in the eighth that Kevin Youkilis snagged was ruled a fielder’s choice and error. Then I found myself cheering loudly and clapping when he blooped a broken-bat single into center in the 11th.

You see, Mark Ellis is one of the truly good guys in this game, and you can’t help but love to see great things happen to good guys. This was the sixth cycle in A’s history, and the second ever at the Coliseum, and believe me, you couldn’t select a candidate who deserved it more.

First and foremost, Ellis is a lunch-pail guy. Comes to work everyday. Nothing flashy. Nothing spectacular. Just does everything right. He’s a guy who will immediately make any team better, but not one you’re going to notice right away. I get the feeling that Mark Ellis could care less about whether he ever shows up on SportsCenter. What he cares about is doing whatever is necessary to win that night, and if you need somebody to do something fundamentally right to aid that cause, you won’t find anybody better than him.

Second of all, he’s a terrific guy. He hails from South Dakota, and has the quiet humility that you often find from people who come from that area. Mark Ellis is the kind of guy who will ask a visitor about his family, about his interests. In the world of professional baseball, this makes him as rare as a complete game.

I was especially looking forward to chatting with him tonight about the birth of his first child, because being a father myself, I understand the high he’s experiencing. But I never combined that by hitting for a cycle, so I can’t wait to find out what must be going through his mind. My guess is that he’ll already be focusing on the task at hand, namely tonight’s game against the Red Sox. Baseball offers precious little time to reflect. That’s best left to those of us who watch, and it was great for a night, to be whisked back into a fan.

For that, Mark Ellis, thank you.