The other night D.J. pointed us to Barry Svrluga’s heart wrenching story about Chad Cordero, who lost his infant daughter to SIDS back in December. Yesterday, Moshe Mandel of The Yankee Analysts — himself a father of three young girls — reflected on Cordero’s loss and how that changes the nature of the player-fan relationship for him:
We have no idea what is going on in the minds of most players. Some will say that MLB players are paid a lot of money to perform, and I agree that by accepting those salaries they do put themselves into a position that requires performance no matter the circumstance. That said, no amount of money can force a human being to shutter his personal life into a small area of his mind and simply forget about it when taking the field. I wonder how quick we might be to jump to conclusions regarding things like effort and character if we knew more about players, if we knew about the guy struggling with a poor or abusive marriage, or a dying parent, or a child on drugs. Would we be so quick to judge?
We’re so quick to boo. Or to mock. Or to snark. And when we do so, we often do it in personal terms despite the fact that all we know about most of these players is how they perform on the field. I think most of us don’t think about the distinction between the player and person very often so it’s not like we’re trying to be jerks. But sometimes, yeah, we’re jerks.
Moshe’s suggestion: to not say or write something about a player that we wouldn’t say to his face. I think that may take things too far as, in practice, face-to-face interactions are often pretty bad vehicles for honesty, and sometimes you need to be honest about a player and his performance. But I do take Moshe’s meaning. A little civility and understanding goes a long way and we’d all be wise to apply those things liberally.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.