Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
There have been a lot of players who served in the military, either before or during their career. Almost all of them, however, did so either during wartime or when we still had a draft.
Since the end of the Vietnam War, however, not many have. Mitch Harris, who pitched for the Cardinals last year, is a graduate of the Naval Academy and served. There may have been some other guys who served in the reserves, but not many. And in all cases, these guys did so before becoming established players, if indeed they ever did so.
Cardinals catcher Brayan Pena is an established player. A 12-year veteran, in fact. At age 34, it’s probably safe to say that his career is winding down. But don’t worry about him getting bored:
Pena is a Cuban native who defected when he was 16 years-old. You can read his account of that and his journey from being a poor, possibly marginal player in Cuba, to becoming a major leaguer and, eventually, a U.S. Citizen here.
It’s not common for a veteran athlete to go join the army. It’s not common for a 34 year-old to do it in any case (the age limit for the army reserves is 35). But don’t tell Pena he can’t do something. He’s already done more than anyone thought he could. He’ll probably end up a general.
Bill covered the whole Zack Hample/Fort Bragg game controversy yesterday. The upshot: famous foul ball/home run ball collector who enjoys promoting himself as much as he enjoys catching foul balls begged his way into the Braves-Marlins game at Fort Bragg which was to be for military personnel only and caught major hell for it. For what it’s worth, I am in 100% agreement with Bill about (a) Hample being kind of a skeeze; and (b) the outrage over him getting into that game being somewhat overheated, likely because of the politics of patriotism and supporting the troops.
Against that backdrop, Hample himself issued an apology yesterday afternoon. As far as apologies go, it ended well, with Hample calling his behavior “oblivious” and “idiotic,” though the 90% of it beforehand was devoted to trying to make it sound like what he did wasn’t that big of a deal.
I don’t know. Except for extreme cases, I don’t much go in for the apology policing thing. Most public apologies are bad. A good number of them are aimed at the wrong people. We take what we can get. If you care about Hample or his antics, you can judge for yourself if his was any good:
The Kansas City Royals placed Wade Davis on the 15-day disabled list today with a strained right forearm.
Not something the Royals needed, even if they do have Kelvin Herrera to take his place. Davis has been fantastic this year, saving 19 games and posting a 1.23 ERA in 30 games. The Royals still have the best bullpen in the American League, at least as far as ERA goes. They’re in the top 2-3 in a lot of other categories as well. But losing Davis will certainly be a blow.