A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jason Heyward

Enjoy it while it's here.

I admit it. I want in on the ground floor on this guy. I’m not there to the point where I’m paying $275 for a Bowman Chrome 2007 rookie card that is gem mint, but I want to say that I saw the laser shot he put out of the park yesterday and I felt the rush. Of course, he “only” went 2-5 in his debut, but the 3-run jack to open the game on his first at bat… “oh hell yeah!”
What better way to open a new season than to have new blood do something meaningful? Sure, he could end up being Super Joe Charboneau and end up selling for $1 on E-bay nearly 30 years after his only good season, but isn’t one memorable season something? Isn’t it worth it as Steve Stone said to destroy one’s arm with a lot of curveballs to go 25-7 in a season where he won the Cy Young award and to pitch for only part of 1 more sea son than to never have tasted greatness at all? All the same, "When you can throw the ball left-handed and get it over the plate with regularity, you're a very valuable commodity," former Cy Young winner Steve Stone said. That’s why I’m going to have a son and raise him to be a southpaw: left-handed situational relief pitcher. One season will always be in the record books – even if his 1972 rookie card is only asking $1-$2 on E-bay.
One has to wonder about the other 13 players selected before the big guy. As Matt Wieters already went pro last year and so did David Price, Madison Bumgarner, and Matt LaPorta, one can only wonder what the teams who didn’t draft him were thinking. Of course, these guys are all of about 20, so it’s not like we’re rushing to get them in baseball, but how many are floundering or having Tommy John Surgery? The reality is more than you would imagine. That said, how do we find and develop the rookies of today into the stars of tomorrow?
Hearing the tales of Heyward being “brought up right” seem sort of unsettling, but at the same time, it sure beats hearing stories of Elijah Dukes, another rookie with a potential upside and a Milton Bradley downside. Somewhere in his gifts, we heard more about his domestic abuse and threats to his school teacher wife – while she was teaching than we did his homeruns and baseball talent. In the end, he was released by the Nationals, a team so bad that we’d have to wonder if they would let almost anyone make the roster. After all, John Lannan is their opening day starter and it’s not like he shows a lifetime of promise – despite a sub 4.00 ERA last season. But there was no room at the inn for Dukes, a man whose verbal eloquence once stated, "Hey, dawg. It's on, dawg. You dead, dawg. I ain't even bulls-------. Your kids too, dawg. It don't even matter to me who is in the car with you. N-----, all I know is, n-----, when I see your m-----f------- a-- riding, dawg, it's on. As a matter of fact, I'm coming to your m-----f------ house” to his wife’s answering machine.
Love is a many splendored thing.
So despite the creepiness of telling me that another African American is eloquent and well-behaved, which is something we never hear about white athletes, I’m just taking this at face value to say that this guy is going to be another class act like Albert Pujols or Joe Mauer. He’s going to represent a sport with a dwindling fan base, especially in the inner city, in a way that carries it solidly into its next form, whatever that may be, and to become a great talent for many years to come. Maybe he’ll be the next Ken Griffy, minus the injuries. Maybe he’ll fizzle fast, but I hope not.
Quite simply, if the sky is the limit, I’m hoping that he could beat Alex Rodriguez’s all time homerun record, which I’m not ready to see come to be and to exist any longer than it has to, when that time does come. And yes… I’m accepting it, even if I don’t want to.

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