This is a long, engaging and at times horrifying read. And it’s only tangentially about baseball. But if you have the time you should definitely check it out. If you don’t have the time, make the time.
It’s about Billy Dillon, a young man who, in 1981, had a promising tryout with the Detroit Tigers. They called him back for a second tryout which, back in those days, was a pretty good indication that the team was going to offer you a contract. The second tryout never happened, though. Dillon was arrested for a brutal murder. He was later convicted and served 27 years in the worst maximum security prisons Florida had to offer.
Only problem: Billy didn’t do it.
Read Brandon Sneed’s harrowing tale of how Dillon found himself in and then made his way through his ordeal. Memories of baseball, transferred into prison league softball played a big part. But mostly it was about will and inner peace, the likes of which most of us don’t have and, hopefully, will never need.
Everyone knows that Giancarlo Stanton is now a New York Yankee. Everyone knows the Marlins traded him to New York. Most people also know that, before that trade happened, the Cardinals and Giants had deals in place for Stanton that he rejected via his no-trade clause. Now, for the first time, we get some real flavor of how all of that went down from Stanton’s perspective, courtesy of this profile of Stanton’s eventful offseason from Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated.
The best part of it comes when Derek Jeter and Marlins president Michael Hill had a sit down with Stanton while the Giants and Cardinals offers were pending. In that meeting, Reiter reports, Stanton was told in no uncertain terms that he’d either accept one of those deals or else he’d be stuck in Miami while the roster was dismantled. Stanton responded thusly:
“This is not going to go how you guys think it will go,” Stanton said. “I’m not going to be forced somewhere, on a deadline, just because it’s convenient for you guys. I’ve put up with enough here. Derek, I know you don’t fully understand where I’m coming from. But Mike does. He’s been here. He can fill you in. This may not go exactly how I planned. But it’s definitely not going to go how you have planned.”
Even adjusting for the likelihood that it wasn’t put quite as smoothly as that in real time as it was in Stanton’s recollection of it to Reiter, it’s still pretty badass. Stanton had the power in that situation and he did not blink when the club threatened to call his bluff. In the end, he got what he wanted.
Beyond that, it’s a good profile of Stanton as he’s about to begin his Yankees career. Definitely worth your time.