Corey Koskie had a lot to say the other day.
Some of it I included in my column on Justin Morneau's ominous comments on his first day in camp.
He had a lot more to say. I've known Koskie for a dozen years. He's a good man, very honest and loyal to his friends.
When I called him to talk about Morneau, the first thing he did was say he didn't like my column in which I criticized Joe Mauer. He said he used Twitter to criticize the column, and he wanted me to know about that up front.
One thing he was insistent upon, whether the subject was Morneau's worries or Mauer's limited playing time last year, was that he believes that all elite athletes are driven to compete, and if they don't play it's because they can't play.
Koskie said he remembers only one player during his career whom he wasn't sure wanted to play as much as possible. He defended Mauer against my criticism and Morneau against anybody who might want to believe that Morneau isn't committed to playing if he's healthy enough to take the field.
Background: Koskie's career ended because of a concussion and concussion symptoms that left him unable to drive, or read, or watch TV for a long time. He's healthy and living a good life now, but he might not be if he had tried to extend his career.

Because this a blog with unlimited space, I'm going to simply run Koskie's lengthy thoughts on the subject:

Corey Koskie: ``I can't emphasize enough how much frustration there was. One thing people have trouble understanding is, they look at it as a guy making $100 million and has all that money and he doesn't want to play. But what they don't see or understand is that nobody plays baseball because of the money. I know people won't want to believe that, but it's true.

``Everybody plays the game because they absolutely love it. They’re competitive. Now that ‘m done with baseball, do I miss the paydchecks? Yeah, of course. But what I miss most is that feeling of being in the batter's box, bottom of the seventh with runners on second and third and they just brought a lefthander in to face you. That me-against-you competitiveness is what drives you. Diving down the line to make a big play and stop a big inning. That's what you play for.

``I miss the challenge of trying to get better every day. You're not going to go 4-for-4 every day. There's always something to work on. That's the reason I played, becuase I loved playing the game. All these athletes love playing the game.

``It's the same with Joe. I know these guys. They play because they love it. I've seen the same kind of passion in guys like Justin and Joe as I saw with our group coming up, and these guys are a lot better players than I ever was.

``I didn't like all of the baggage outside the ballpark that came with being a player. I just loved playing the game. You take the money out of the equation, and these guys would still be playing baseball.''

I believe I've been around athletes who love the money or the lifestyle more than the game itself. But I wanted to give you Koskie's heart-felt perspective.


Upcoming: I'll run Sunday Sports Talk on 1500espn from Hammond Stadium, from 10-11:30 today. Terry Ryan will visit me in the booth and Tom Pelissero will join me from the NFL scouting combine in Indy.

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