Some people can turn their charisma on and off. Some know how to play the game. Some will seek out the cameras, wink, and bank an empty gesture, knowing they can eventually monetize their persona somewhere down the line. And some people -- those rare people -- are like Yankees shortstop prospect Anthony Volpe.
Those people? They just live it. They're genuine, in both small moments and under the spotlight.
By all accounts, Volpe has the "it factor" that will allow him to shine in the Bronx when the stakes are the biggest, but that's ... hard to quantify. The lack of metrics for star quality are the singular reason why a generation that wasn't raised on Derek Jeter still fancies him overrated. Meanwhile, everyone who came before them seems to understand that being the most important person in the game for over a decade was probably for good reason.
But late last week, Yankee fans actually got a rare piece of evidence that Volpe truly is what everyone claims he is behind closed doors. Take a look at what happened when Volpe was introduced to '70s Yankees icon Lou Piniella before a spring game at George M. Steinbrenner Field, and what he did without batting an eye or looking for a microphone.
Yankees top prospect Anthony Volpe tips cap to Lou Piniella
If you're cynical and want to wax rhapsodic about how Volpe's "act" is getting old, this probably isn't the site for you. With so much phony and fraudulent behavior and so many social media veneers being put up in 2023, it's rare to see such an effortless gesture in a world where even "candid" moments take hours to perfect. If you can't separate instinct from act, or you'd rather spin yourself into an angry circle about how the "Volpe Myth" has already gone too far, then there's the door.
Clearly, Volpe was carefully taught, as a lifelong Yankee fan, to respect the franchise's (and the game's) history. Look at the ease of this split-second moment. It's muscle memory.
And yes, it certainly helps his budding reputation that he's displaying every purported skill in the book so far this spring, making it exceedingly difficult for the team to make the demotion decision we all know is coming (unless Peter Gammons is onto something). Volpe can run, throw, hit and tip the cap. He can travel to Fenway South and mash a double and home run in yet another showcase in front of the Yankees' enemies. He can hang with Judge and Stanton and talk '78 tiebreaker game with Sweet Lou and Bucky. And he can blush internally while projecting confidence on the outside.
Save the Jasson Dominguez conversation for another day, but Volpe's clearly ready in more ways than one. Hopefully, his waiting period before officially joining the Yankees History he's long embodied doesn't last too long.