The Royals hire Willie Aikens

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The Royals hired a former player as a minor league coach yesterday. No biggie. Happens every day. Except this minor league coach is Willie Mays Aikens, who spent nearly 14 years in federal prison for selling crack in the mid 90s.

Aikens — who had a breakout performance in the 1980 World Series — has been working in construction and giving anti-drug talks in the Kansas City area since his release from prison in 2008.  Now he has a chance to finally get back into baseball.  Aikens made a lot of mistakes in his life, but he has paid for them. More than paid for them, actually, given that his original prison sentence was held — along with many others — to have been too long given the government’s unconstitutional treatment of crack cocaine offenders compared to powder cocaine offenders.

I last thought about Aikens when Ron Washington got in trouble for taking cocaine last year. At the time I wrote a longish post about cocaine in baseball. It’s a part of the game’s recent history relatively few people know about.  They should learn more (and here’s an excellent and entertaining book about it all if you want to learn more).  Unlike steroids or amphetamines in baseball, cocaine destroyed the lives of many players. Even ending at least one.  It was serious business that has largely been overlooked since the PED stuff took off.

Anyway: good luck Willie Aikens. I hope you and the Royals take full advantage of your second chance in the game.

Video: Gleyber Torres slugs a home run in his fourth straight game

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Yankees rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres has a fun streak going right now: He’s homered in four straight games, becoming the youngest American League player to do so.

The historic knock arrived in the seventh inning of Friday’s series opener against the Angels. With two outs and the bases empty, Torres pounced on a 1-3 fastball from Jim Johnson and posted it to the right field bleachers for a go-ahead run:

It was just the Yankees’ second run of the night (the first having also been provided by Torres on an RBI single in the second inning), but the only one they needed to maintain an edge over the Angels.

Torres, 21, is off to a torrid start this season. Following Saturday’s 2-1 win, he now carries a .333/.393/.646 batting line, nine home runs and a 1.038 OPS through 106 plate appearances. In the past four games alone, he’s gone 7-for-15 with five homers (including a pair of solo shots, a two-run homer and three-run homer) and nine RBI. He’ll have to collect a home run in his next five games if he wants to set a new all-time record, however: Dale Long (1956 Pirates), Don Mattingly (1987 Yankees), and Ken Griffey Jr. (1993 Mariners) currently share the record for the longest home run-hitting streak, at eight games apiece.