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.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.