Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Eagle of Medford: Marcus Stroman and the United States of America

Marcus Stroman lists his height in his twitter bio. Five feet, seven inches. He declares 'breaking stereotypes' there too. He's the most likable pro athlete from Duke University since Grant Hill. Last night, he pitched for the United States in the World Baseball Classic Final. Two years removed from tearing his ACL, Marcus Stroman tossed one of the most brilliant games in recent memory. He did it on a stage that needed a virtuoso, signature performance from an American. He did it against one of the greatest lineups the world could muster.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The World Baseball Classic Comes of Age

The fourth iteration of the World Baseball Classic has been a godsend. The passion and flair usually reserved for Latin American nations has spilled over to the usually stoic Americans and Japanese. The drama of upsets and close games and close plays has brought baseball out of hibernation a month early. Emotions are high, and most importantly- people care. Players care. For all of the formality of the first two tournaments in 2006 and 2009, and even the entertaining climax of 2013, the World Baseball Classic of 2017 no longer feels like a niche interest chore. It has arrived as a true platform for the growth and progression of the game.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Chosen Ones: Scott Burcham, Team Israel, and the Opening Shot of the World Baseball Classic

In the pre-dawn of early-March, not much baseball of consequence is played. Most, if not all of Spring Training is asleep. On the other side of the planet, baseball did matter. The World Baseball Classic, the MLB-funded baseball version of soccer's World Cup, was starting in South Korea. The home team, one of the planet's great baseball powers, was matched up with tournament newcomers Israel. It was supposed to be a relatively easy game for Korea. With a roster comprised of mostly fringe Major Leaguers and Minor League hopefuls with Jewish heritage, Team Israel was meant to pick up their participation medals and go back to their Spring Training camps. All preconceived notions of how this WBC was going to go were soon tossed out of the window. The game was knotted at one, and Scott Burcham stepped into the box with runners on first and third

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Opacity of Modern Tragedy: Jose Fernandez, Yordano Ventura and the Ides of Growing Old

"Was" is the word that is used. In written articles, news broadcasts, and conversation, it signifies something that has come and gone. A simple online search of a deceased actor or other such persons of enough interest to warrant a profile will likely show "was" right after their name, even before presenting a date of death. It is an indicator. Something generally, and hopefully, reserved for those who lived long enough lives to outlast an early grave. Yet death cares not for our plans or intentions. We are the sum of our choices and the choices of the company we keep. Jose Fernandez was. Yordano Ventura was. Youth, life, broken and gone in an instant. In the moments after their deaths, there was grieving, condolence, and other warm sentiments spread to and around those directly affected by the tragedies. Then time passed, police reports became public, and public opinion shifted from heart-wrenched to casting stones and resignation of fait accompli. Why is that? Nothing can undo the choices those young men made now. In the deaths of these two young men, we have the full dichotomy of modern tragedy: support and blame.

Carpe Noctem: The Geoff Blum Story

A baseball season can seem so long that a single plate appearance can seem largely insignificant. As summer's long days turn cold and th...