Colby Lewis succeeds because of family, not despite it

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Craig has been all over the Richie Whitt-Colby Lewis story, rightly pointing out the absurdity of the whole thing.

If you’re unfamiliar with this story, the writer (Whitt) thinks that the Rangers pitcher (Lewis) should be ashamed of himself for missing a start to witness the birth of his child because …

(a) It’s Lewis’ second child, making it somehow less important.

(b) And Lewis for some reason owes the fans and his team more than he does his family.

I agree with everything Craig has written on the topic, but would also like to add a bit of insight I gained by sitting down with Lewis for an interview at spring training. I spoke to Lewis as part of a feature package I wrote on the difficulties of making it to the majors. Lewis talked at length of his own journey, including the injuries he endured along the way, and his two-year detour to professional baseball in Japan.

During our talk, he frequently sprinkled in references to his family, some of which did not make it into my story. He mentioned how in the spring of 2007, the Washington Nationals released him on the day his son was born. He said that was a blessing, however, because Oakland signed him a few days later and assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento, near his Bakersfield, Calif. home.

He also spoke about how lucky he was that his wife, Jenny, and son could accompany him to Japan, and how important it has been to have her support. And Lewis said this about how much family means to him:

“(It changes things) when you have a baby you have to support now. It’s something that clicked for me and took over my life. It’s a blessing. It kept me a lot more focused on the task of what I wanted to do.”

Richie Whitt says he doesn’t care if Lewis is a good dad, he just wants him to be a good pitcher. But those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Lewis not only understands that, he claims that having a family made him a better pitcher and made him happier.

That’s what should matter most.

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Minor League Baseball eclipses 40 million in attendance for 14th consecutive season

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Minor League Baseball announced on Wednesday that, for the 14th consecutive season, the league has eclipsed 40 million in total attendance. 20 teams set single-game attendance records and seven teams set franchise records for single-game attendance in their current parks.

ESPN’s Keith Law, who has been covering the minor leagues for quite a while, did the math:

Minor League Baseball president and CEO Pat O’Conner, whose most prominent stint in the public eye involved him disingenuously justifying the underpaying of his players, said, “Minor League Baseball continues to be the best entertainment value in sports, and these numbers support that. For us to top 40 million fans for the 14th consecutive season despite the weather challenges our teams faced in April and May is a testament to the continued support of our loyal fan bases and the creative promotions and hard work done by all of our teams across the country.”

Major and Minor League Baseball are quite happy to make money hand over fist on the backs of their players, but are too cheap to pay them adequately for their labor.