Gotta Have Heart, Hablamos Ingles, A-Rod

YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART

In the top of the second inning Wednesday night at Parkview Field, it looked like it was going to be a long night for the TinCaps. They were down, 7-1, against Bowling Green, and Fort Wayne starter Matthew Shepherd was knocked out of the game after just one inning. But then, they scored three times in the second, twice in the sixth and again in the eighth, coming back to tie the game at seven. And after the game, someone used the phrase “heart” in describing the TinCaps comeback effort, which fell just short in extra innings as they lost, 8-7. The word “heart” reminded me of this song from the classic show, “Damn Yankees”:

Side note: I was also in “Damn Yankees” in the Highlands Middle School production of the show in 2003. That was the high point, and also the end of my acting career. I think my high-pitched solo at the beginning of the show as old Joe Hardy might go down in the record books as one of the worst songs ever performed.

With the way the team has scuffled in the second half, there were more positives than negatives after the game. They erased a 7-1 deficit, got great pitching from the bullpen–especially the five innings from Colin Rea–and were never out of the game, although it would have been easy for them to feel that way.

Tonight the TinCaps host Bowling Green for the second game of a three-game set, and we’ll have a special visit from former WWF star Sergeant Slaughter. It’s also a Thirsty Thursday and there will be fireworks after the game.

PODCAST

Although it has been rare in the second half, Jose Valentin was a (mostly happy man) after the game last night:

“I think we lost the game in just one inning, the second inning…After that, I was happy with the way we played. (Colin) Rea went up there for five innings and gave us a chance. Our offense finally showed up…I’m very happy with the way we came back. We fought all the way but we just ran short,” said Valentin.

Of his team’s fight he said, “I’d like to see that more often…I’m happy with the way we swung, our approach at the plate was good.”

Listen to his full post-game comments in today’s TinCaps Report Podcast:

HABLAMOS INGLES

Playing in the minor leagues doesn’t just mean an education in baseball, especially if players come from non-English speaking countries. In this case, the TinCaps players from Latin America–Jorge Guzman, Bryan Rodriguez, Miguel Del Castillo, Reynaldo Bruguera, Diego Goris, Gabriel Quintana, Luis Tejada, Luis Domoromo and Alberth Martinez, and Ruben Mejia–have been working on their English skills. Several times a month, the Padres pay to have an English teacher come in and work with the players, mostly on phrases that will be useful to them in baseball situations. Today was the culmination of their studies, as they recorded a video showing off their newfound proficiency to send back to San Diego.

Tejada Spanish

The English language can be a big barrier for many players, and in clubhouses across baseball Latin American players will congregate with other Latin American players, and American-born players will hang out with other American-born players. I’ve seen, at times, one player–last year it was Adys Portillo, who was proficient in English–order meals for an entire group of Latino ballplayers at a fast-food restaurant because the others could not speak enough English, or do it with enough confidence, to get their intended message across.

I’ve done a few post-game interviews in Spanish this year, and even after having studied the language for seven years, I am still only at a conversational level. This is a small step for these players, that will hopefully make a big impact and make them more comfortable.

A-ROD

As if we haven’t heard enough news about Alex Rodriguez and his 211-game suspension lately….believe me, I know. It’s a tired story at this point. But….but, I ask you to read this Sports Illustrated story by S.L. Price which views Rodriguez’s career holistically, even including a peek back at his 1994 season in the Midwest League with the Appleton Foxes. An excerpt, discussing his rehab assignments throughout the Yankees minor-league chain:

As he has throughout his tour—which has seen him suit up for Yankees affiliates in Tampa; Charleston, S.C.; Trenton, N.J.; and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre—Rodriguez declined to talk specifics about Biogenesis, PEDs or reports that he was considering a deal. On July 12, he met with MLB investigators on the matter, then didn’t show up for that night’s rehab start in Tampa. He says he can’t waste time and energy now worrying about all he may lose, or the distance he has traveled down. Yet the fact is, Rodriguez, once seen as baseball’s great clean hope, is now viewed as hopelessly dirty.

Others have come back from such stigma: Mark McGwire is the hitting coach for the Dodgers; Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte, old teammates and admitted users of PEDs, are treated these days as elder statesmen. Rodriguez figures to be different—and knows it—but last week maintained the front of a blissed-out Candide. He insisted that he doesn’t wonder, Why me?

“I never say that,” Rodriguez said. “But maybe there are a couple chapters where I can become that person again. I’m not giving up. I have tremendous faith, and hopefully there’s a couple more chapters to this book. And hopefully there’s a happy ending somewhere. I have faith.”

The closing paragraph perhaps sums up the entire Rodriguez deal perfectly:

Rodriguez’s gift, his unprecedented completeness, was never really his; it’s called a gift for a reason. Sports is a collective of time as well as talent. Six generations of baseball players and fans, billions of dollars worth of stadia and TV time, an infinity of minor and major leaguers working for untold lifetimes—all of it combined to create the game, the numbers, the interest and hothouse environment in which Alex Rodriguez was going to be the best.

People care so much about sports greatness because, deep down, they know that it’s a reflection; something there belongs to them. We gave Rodriguez his chance. We urged him not to waste it. Cashman knows, better than anyone: We hate when we make so big a mistake.

MUSICAL GUEST

Florida Georgia Line…take it away!

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

MCsig

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