I had the opportunity to do a story on Tom Wilhelmsen this spring as part of a seven-part series on players chasing their big-league dreams.
In case you’re still not familiar with his story, the 6-foot-6 pitcher quit the game in 2004 after being suspended for a second failed test for marijuana. He traveled the world and became a bartender, and generally gave up on his childhood dream.
But he eventually decided to get back into the sport, and spent last season in the Seattle Mariners system, topping out a mid-level Class-A ball.
Today the word came down: Seven years after quitting baseball, Wilhelmsen was going to the major leagues, landing a spot in the Mariners bullpen. The Mariners coaches admired the 27-year-old’s poise on the mound, and his 97-mph fastball didn’t hurt, either.
Geoff Baker has a nice story on Wilhelmsen’s big moment over at the Seattle Times, including an emotional interview with Wilhelmsen’s father, John.
“I’m so relieved as a father, because I didn’t want him to be 35 and saying, ‘I shoulda,’ ” his father said. “I didn’t want him to live his life like that. I wanted him to know for himself that, whatever happened, he gave it 100 percent. After that, whatever happens, happens.”
Wilhelmsen made it to the majors, but what about the other players I featured this spring? Let’s take a look:
- Scott Rice, reliever, Cubs: Optioned to minor league camp on March 15.
- John Lindsey, first base, Dodgers: Optioned to minor league camp on March 14.
- Corky Miller, catcher, Reds: Will likely be optioned to minor leagues unless Ramon Hernandez’s elbow becomes more of a problem.
- Dustin Ackley, second base, Mariners: Optioned to minor league camp on March 23. Will likely be with Mariners at some point this season.
- Torii Hunter, outfield, Angels: Starting right fielder for Angels.
- Colby Lewis, pitcher, Rangers: No. 2 starter for the Rangers.
Hunter and Lewis are, of course, established big leaguers who shared stories of their past struggles. Ackley is a rising star who was chosen No. 2 overall in the 2009 draft. Of the others, only Wilhelmsen is likely to stick in the majors this season, and his cause was aided by playing for a team in transition that entered spring with lots of bullpen questions.
It all just illustrates how difficult it is to play this wonderful game.
You can follow Bob on Twitter, and get all your HBT updates here.
It started with a no-good St. Louis Cardinals fan being a troublemaker. That no-good Cardinals fan was Drew Silva, who began things innocently enough, noting that, despite their dominance this season, any team can theoretically beat the Chicago Cubs in a short series because that’s just how baseball goes:
Cubs fans started giving him guff for that, so Drew gave some back:
And with that it was on like Donkey Kong (a super old video game which was not invented for another 73 years after the Cubs last won the World Series). I tweeted this:
And with that, my followers went crazy. Here’s a sampling of some of the best ones:
And, for that matter . . .
Too soon. Unlike the last Cubs World Series title.
Like I said, this was just a sampling. I’ve retweeted a ton more on my timeline and those I didn’t retweet can be seen in the replies here. My favorite one may have been “literally the invention of sliced bread,” which debuted in 1912, but I can’t find that tweet.
Please, Cubs fans, have a sense of humor about this. You have a wonderful ballpark that is not named after a third tier mortgage company, a grand history that is fantastic even if it hasn’t featured any championships and a future that is as bright or brighter than any other team out there. Maybe even come up with some of your own in the comments! History is fun! As is self-deprecation! What I’m saying is don’t be salty about this sort of thing. Salty is a bad look.
In other news, the Morton Salt Company was incorporated in 1910, two years after the Cubs last World Series victory.
Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers have “rebuffed offers” for Yasiel Puig.
Heyman says teams “appear to be bottom feeding for Puig,” making lowball trade proposals. The Dodgers may not have big future plans for Puig, but nor are they gonna sell low on him. And heck, maybe they have bigger plans for him now than they did a couple of weeks ago. He’s batting .396/.448/.698 with four home runs and 12 RBI in 14 games since his demotion to Triple-A Oklahoma. The guy who replaced him, Josh Reddick, is hitting .143/.211/.157 in 20 games since the Dodgers acquired him.
I doubt Puig steps foot in the Dodgers clubhouse before the end of the year, but it’s not like they can’t hold off and trade him in the offseason when teams can imagine him looking good in their uniform next spring.