So torn here. I love what Evan Gattis has done with the Braves so far. Highlight reel moments, power when it has been needed and he is a great story. But I almost wonder if he’s too great a story.
We cant’ seem to go a day without hearing some new Gattis-is-Kane-from-Kung-Fu tale. Stuff about him walking the Earth, smashing baseballs, dispensing wisdom, being legendary. The latest, from Mark Bradley of the AJC, on a conversation between Fredi Gonzalez and Gattis in spring training:
The manager had sought to tell Gattis, who was on the brink of making the Atlanta Braves’ 25-man roster, to relax. Whereupon Gattis said, “Do you want to win?” Whereupon Gonzalez said he did. Whereupon Gattis said: “If you care about winning, you need me on this team.”
That’s such a great story the day after he hits a big grand slam. But when, inevitably, he goes into an extended slump, it’s not gonna mean a lot.
Sorry if that makes me a killjoy. I just hate to see stories and myths and personas built up with respect to ballplayers. The game is gonna humble everyone at some point and all of the meaning in those stories is gonna evaporate pretty quickly. And it will cause unnecessary backlashes among certain kinds of fans and it’s all just so much noise about a person we really don’t know as well as the storytellers would have us think we do.
The Kansas City Star has covered the death of Yordano Ventura and its aftermath in a thorough, thoughtful, respectful and admirable fashion and it has all been compelling to read, even if it’s often been difficult to read. Their latest story may be the most difficult, though it is nonetheless essential.
It covers the final year of Ventura’s life which, sadly, was tumultuous. He had become estranged from his family. He was married to a woman who, at the time of the ceremony, was still married to her first husband and whose family, allegedly, later made threats against Ventura that we’re only now learning about. This includes allegations of armed men accosting Ventura at his home near the Royals spring training facility a year ago. An incident which led to him missing time due to “flulike symptoms,” but which, in reality, caused him considerable mental distress. He was again threatened, it is claimed, in Kansas City during the season. There is also an allegation that Ventura attempted suicide via an overdose of Benadryl, though that is disputed.
Beyond that, there is an arc to the end of Ventura’s life which sounds unfortunately familiar. It’s a story of a young man whose life changed dramatically in a very, very short period of time and who struggled at times to process the changes. Were it not for a fateful drive on a dark and winding road one night in late January, they all could’ve been things that, as his career matured, he could look back on as learning experiences. Now that he’s gone, however, they form the final, tragic chapter.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.