What an event. Yesterday, several MLB ballplayers, including recent Cuban defectors like Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu, hoped off a plane in Havana. After risking their lives to flee their homeland, leaving behind countless number of family and friends, they returned. And like children who move far away from home, they made a pilgrimage that brought emotions and tears. Initially, though, I think awe was their first thought. Certainly, they never imagined they'd have an opportunity to come back. Via Alden Gonzalez at MLB.com:
Puig stepped off the plane, and a smile began to form, his eyes began to water.The photo above, via a tweet from Los Dodgers, shows an emotional Puig with his Baseball mentor Juan Arrechavaleta Cardenas. Via Jesse Sanchez at MLB.com:
Puig boarded the bus, one headed straight for the heart of Cuba, and finally some words spilled out.
"Smell that?" Puig asked, cheerfully. "That's that Cuban aroma!"
Puig was accompanied on the trip by his father, Omar, and the Dodgers outfielder embraced an old friend in the hotel lobby, the mentor he affectionately refers to as "Tata," and it looked like he didn't want to let go.I cannot image what this kind of homecoming would be like. We are no doubt in a changed world, and hopefully the folly of politics doesn't get in the way of allowing families to reunite once again.
Below are more links to check out:
- There is early news of a trade for the Dodgers that includes the Reds and White Sox, via MLB.com:
The White Sox have acquired All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier from the Reds as part of a three-team deal that includes the Dodgers, according to sources.
None of the three clubs has confirmed the deal.
The Reds get prospects Jose Peraza, Brandon Dixon and Scott Schebler from the Dodgers in the deal while prospects Frankie Montas, Trayce Thompson and Micah Johnson go from Chicago to Los Angeles.
- Via One Nación at ESPN, "Wonder if Clayton Kershaw threw the 12-6 curveball in Cuba?" There's a great interview with Kersahaw worth checking out.
Kershaw told ESPN: "I think for me, just understanding the culture a little bit more. It's so important," Kershaw said. "I have, obviously, a lot of teammates who are Cuban, so just for me to understand what they've been through, some of the hardships that they've gone through, understanding how they grew up."
- Via Cyd Ziegler at OutSports, "Los Angeles Dodgers executive Erik Braverman comes out as gay to inspire youth."
Even with the lingering questions, Braverman is talking about being gay in MLB now so that every LGBT person who might wonder if they can be out and work in professional baseball never again has to ask themselves that question."I did not have that when I was growing up," he said. "I think that's part of why I struggled personally. I didn't have any role models or examples or anyone to look up to as a possibility."
- As you may know, Japanese ace Kenta Maeda has recently been posted by his team and is currently soliciting bids from MLB teams for his services this coming season. Apparently, he had arrived in LA for a meeting with the Dodgers, per a tweet by F.L.:
Japanese RH pitcher Kenta Maeda arrived to Los Angeles a couple of hours ago. #Dodgers #MLB - Thanks @2011MLBASG! pic.twitter.com/9AzIGxWA7h— F. L. (@dgaijin) December 15, 2015
- If you don't know who Maeda is check out this excellent biography by Steven Sypa at Amazin' Avenue.
In studying Maeda's PITCHf/x data, one can see that Maeken is a cerebral pitcher. Aware of his lack of overpowering stuff, the right-hander uses what he does excel at–mainly his control and pitch repertoire–to keep batters off balance. Maeda keeps the ball away from hitters' power zones, throws pitches in counts you wouldn't expect them to be thrown in, and relies more heavily on his breaking pitches and off-speed offerings than his fastball. This would seem to be a definite plus for Maeda from a scouting perspective. Rather than succeeding against inferior hitters with below-average stuff, only to struggle against superior hitters, he should be able to adapt and continue using the approach with which he is familiar.
- Great stuff. Albert Flannery at Agate Type takes a close look at a couple photographs of the 1906 Brooklyn Royal Giants. Check it out here.
* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Like Dodgers Blue Heaven on facebook *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *