He strikes out a lot. For a leadoff hitter, he doesn't draw nearly enough walks. Against left handed pitching, he is essentially useless, batting around .150. And yet, when Curtis Granderson plays, it's a thing of beauty to watch.
His swing - when he's not swinging and missing, that is - is fluid and smooth, Griffian in a sense. His stride is potent and purposeful. Like the cheetah chasing down the gazelle, Curtis Granderson chases down doubles and triples when on the basepaths, and flyballs when in the field.
And at times, like today, his excellence cannot be restricted to the ground. At times he must take flight, obligated to dazzle the eye and illuminate the mind with his graceful, understated dominance. And beneath it all is the mind of a child simply playing in the backyard. After scaling the heavens to fetch the flyball, he comes down laughing, the goofy grin of a 12-year old plastered on his face like even he cannot believe the level of greatness he has reached, and the level of greatness that lies ahead. And when all is said and done, the masses give him not one, not two, but three standing ovations, worshipping the center field superstar.
It is like Comerica Park was designed for him, designed so that his swings send the ball into the gap, into the alley, designed so no flyball is out of reach, designed so that it provides enough of a challenge for Curtis Granderson to show off his powers, designed so that at any given moment, lightning might strike.
In a lineup where Sheffield and Ordonez hijack the souls of opposing pitchers, where Polanco and Guillen spray basehits to all fields, where Pudge's desire to win smothers all other emotions, it is always Curtis Granderson leading off, leading the charge, leading the Tigers into battle.
A wise man once said that when learning to fly, coming down was the hardest thing. Soon, Granderson's throne may be threatened from within, as the heir to the throne is groomed to prowl center field for years. But as he once again showed today, he will not surrender his position quietly. He will swing away, and he will sprint and run and leg out extra basehits, and he will chase down flyballs, and he will lunge at the wall, and sacrifice his body in the field.
All while smiling. Always the boy within.