Bay Area baseball has completed its transition into a new era. Gone are superstars like Jose Canseco and Barry Bonds, who seemed more focused on individual numbers than the success of their teams.
As Tuesday's award of American League Manager of the Year to the Oakland A's Bob Melvin and Thursday's National League Most Valuable Player honor to Buster Posey demonstrate, our new heroes are leaders who check their egos at the door in pursuit of excellence.
Melvin and Posey symbolize great work ethic and humility that turn excellent players into stars, and stars into role models. Melvin and Posey were in different leagues on different teams with different outcomes to the 2012 season, but they both led by example.
Melvin lacked great talent as player. He was a journeyman. He survived in the big leagues on his tenacity and grit. He would do what it took to help the team, not himself. That selflessness enabled him as a manager to motivate a team of young no-names to unbelievable heights.
The A's were tailor-made for Melvin. He had to make things work with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. No problem. Melvin didn't need superstars. He needed hard workers and positive thinkers who could emerge from adversity. In short, he needed, and had, a team full of Melvins.
As for Posey, while his talent was great, he came to the Giants in 2010 as a humbled rookie grateful for a shot in the bigs. That was 2010. His enthusiasm and down-to-earth nature in the clubhouse made him an instant leader and a model teammate.
A horrific injury last year on a collision at home plate left many wondering if he would ever play catcher again. Posey would have none of that. He worked hard in rehabilitation. His sheer will and guts not only got him back on the field, but also returned to his spot as one of the majors' top players. This year, Posey won the batting title, hit a grand slam that put his team on the road to the World Series and then helped lead them the rest of the way to the world championship.
By the way, he played 114 regular season games at catcher, not only the most physically demanding position, but also the place of leadership on the field. He engaged not only his brawn but his brain on a daily basis as he called the pitches for one of baseball's best pitching staffs. And he did it all with no sign of the self-centered psyche that epitomized the Bay Area stars of a decade or two ago.
Melvin and Posey are great role models for all of us. They represent what we want our children to aspire to. They are not flamboyant or full of themselves. Instead, they get the job done brilliantly while sharing glory and compassion with those around them.