Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago
Josh Hamilton’s story was told with a beginning, a middle and an end. It was told neat like that. He was the gifted young ballplayer who fell about as hard as a man can fall and still get up, and then he did get up. Hooray for Josh Hamilton. Hooray for the human spirit.
That was his story. It was worth telling. With every home run, every day spent sober, every moment he held his wife and four daughters, it was worth re-telling, because none of that was guaranteed after he fell. And fell. And fell.
Through a clear lens, it was impossible not to root for Josh Hamilton, who woke up every morning expecting to do the right thing by himself and his family, and then getting through most days.
But not all of them. The story wasn’t that neat. It wouldn’t ever be.
When he was in his early 20s, several years after being the first overall pick in the 1999 draft, Hamilton spent three seasons on baseball’s suspended list because of his addiction. As a condition of his return in 2006, Hamilton was to be tested three times a week. He was known to have fallen off the wagon twice, once in 2009 and again in 2012, when he was with the Texas Rangers.
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Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago
MESA, Ariz. – This is not Mike Trout’s most comfortable arena, first day back, standing on the right field warning track, arms folded over his chest, feet planted shoulder width, cameras and questions invasive, and some dude asking if he has a name for his glove.
A name for his glove.
At 23, he is a unanimous MVP and twice a runner-up. He doesn’t play the game as much as he catches it under his shoe and stubs it out. He’s got a little face stubble going, which is noticeable when the sun hits it just right. He’s got a Corvette in his garage in Jersey, a gift – the car, not the state – for being the best player at the last All-Star Game.
There’s hardly ever been anyone like him, this young and this decorated and this aw-shucks, and it doesn’t seem to matter we’re in a severe offensive downturn, as Mike Trout just keeps running against the trend. So he comes to camp and it’s kind of an event, which means a temporary backdrop and a mic stand and, man, he shoulda answered “McGlovin” or something but he didn’t, because the questions come fast, and the next is about filming a sandwich commercial the day before with Clayton Kershaw, who, for the record, is “a great guy.”
So there you go.
Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Really, what it had come down to for Andre Ethier is timing, a problem when camp is only just getting started and he’s stuck in a circle of reporters clarifying his wishes while dozens of his teammates are watching his explanation bleed into their team meeting.
He is coming up on 33 years old, which isn’t so young anymore. He is guaranteed another $56 million over the next three seasons. The man who guaranteed that contract has been reassigned. The new man won’t be asked by anyone to justify that money.
And then, all this happened when the Los Angeles Dodgers were overrun with outfielders, young ones and older ones, so Ethier – not a loud complainer by nature but also moved to defend himself and his game – found he’d been cornered by circumstance. And timing. He could wear it or not.
So he stood Tuesday morning picking over his words, unwilling to surrender regular at-bats or his position on the matter without a tussle, unable to stop believing in the ballplayer he was or can be, and fairly sure he’ll be cast as the villain if and when this thing is resolved.
His plan is to be a regular outfielder. You know, somewhere.
And you see where this gets tricky.
Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago
TEMPE, Ariz. – They were six across on a line of pitcher’s mounds Monday morning – lefties, righties, big ones, little ones, old and young. Rain was coming: the air heavy with it. The sky was gray. Their work wouldn’t take long, though, not in the last week of February, when pitchers are merely reminding their arms this is what they do.
So they thud-thud-thudded across a 40-pitch reacquainting, 20 fastballs to the arm side, 20 more to the glove side while a pitching coach announced the time they had left. “Four minutes!” he said.
Beyond that, the chatter was generally limited to those who observed from outside the chain-link fence, those being coaches and staff and the plain curious.
“Dang!” Garrett Richards shouted, except it wasn’t exactly “Dang.”
He’d come out of one, and his fastball had drifted high and loose.
“Keep yer head up,” the catcher, Chris Iannetta, said, meaning literally keep your head up, not the hang-in-there-you’ll-get-it keep your head up.
Butcher would laugh.
Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago
PEORIA, Ariz. – The sun was barely up on Saturday. The Seattle Mariners were only just arriving. Jesus Montero, you remember him, was at his locker. His head was down, his eyes red and watery. There's a place a man goes when he must forgive himself for having been a boy, somewhere out past the weight rooms and ballfields and empty choices. Jesus Montero, you sense, goes there a lot these days.
When he returns, it's past the same weight rooms and ballfields and empty choices. Past his wife, Taneth, and his daughter, Loren. Past the father who paints cars for a living in Venezuela. Past the people who believed in him, and then didn't, and want to again. Past the boy.
These are good journeys, if still painful.
He looked up.
"I don't want to be a loser," he said.
Maybe the game was too easy for too long. Maybe when the game got hard, and it always gets hard, he no longer recognized it. Or himself.
Hold all that up against the man at his locker Saturday morning. He was humble and apologetic. He was thankful for another chance. He also was a lean and proud 230 pounds, the result of an offseason spent in reflection and, day after day after day, in the gym.
Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Bruce Bochy on Thursday underwent a heart procedure, the layman's term for which is, "It's scary, but these things happen sometimes."
Or, if you will, "Routine, long as it's not happening to you."
Bochy, who will turn 60 shortly after opening day, had two stents inserted in his heart. He'd experienced what the San Francisco Giants termed "discomfort" over a couple days. When it did not subside, they lugged their manager to the hospital across the street from their complex. By Friday morning he was resting and eager to get back to work, said Brett Bochy, his son and a pitcher for the Giants. And, other than the door to Bochy's office being closed all morning, the routine of camp was largely unaffected.
The Giants could not say when Bochy would return, but did not expect him to miss more than two or three days.
Because the club seemed concerned but wholly optimistic, and because Bochy was well enough to trade text messages with about anyone who sent along best wishes, players seemed satisfied their manager would be quick to recover and resume his duties.
Brett visited his father Thursday night and again Friday morning.
Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago
MESA, Ariz. – There was this afternoon a couple decades ago, when Tommy Lasorda was still throwing the occasional batting practice. What his pitches lacked in oomph they made up for with an amazing failure to reach the catcher, especially his curveball, which he’d flick up there with the introduction, “Know where I live? 643 DP Lane! That’s right, 643 DP Lane!” And he’d bounce another.
On a back field at Dodgertown, the cool evening air coming, a new baseball season just beyond the outfield knolls, everyone laughed along.
It was great theater. Great fun.
For all except the bullpen catcher.
He was expected to block every lollypop flung from the fingertips of this 70-year-old born-again Koufax. Tommy was tireless. So the young catcher took these 55-foot spinners off the shoulders and elbows and thighs and neck, picked himself up, knocked the dirt from his shin guards, squatted behind the plate, and dutifully allowed the beating to continue.
Well, one pitch bounced over his shoulder. With half a smile and still playing to the crowd, Tommy blasted the young man.
“You gotta block that ball!” he shouted.
“I’m tryin’ , Tom.”
The half-dozen players leaning on the batting cage moaned in unison.
Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – I don’t know Chris Lincecum, but I know some fathers. And after you get your boy upright on the potty, then on the two-wheeler, and then in adulthood (which may be wobbliest of all), you one day realize a good portion of fatherhood is spent watching the boy fall.
You wish he didn’t fall so much. You run alongside as long as you can. But pretty soon the whole thing picks up a little too much speed, and your legs don’t go like they used to anyway, so the boy goes off and if he falls – and he always falls – it’s going to be somewhere where strangers will have to catch him or not and it will be you in the distant background with your hands on your knees.
There’s even a time when the boy stops looking around wondering where you are, when his uncertainty has instead become courage. And that’s good. That’s what you were there for.
“We’re both stubborn,” he said.
“I went to him,” Tim said. “That was tough. It’s like a kid with a bad report card.”
He smiled. The numbers were the numbers. The results followed.
Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago
If there is something to be taken from the handwritten letter, the cursive loops upon bunched words upon a reach for public clemency, it is that each line is tilted slightly, ending higher than it started. And so, like everything else Alex Rodriguez anymore, it's all running uphill.
I don't think it bothers him, either, other than it maybe being a little hard on the hips.
Rodriguez apologized on Tuesday. Nineteen months after being suspended, 14 after embarking on that suspension, he wrote out a few well-crafted paragraphs meant to draw a line between what is past and what lies ahead. The man does have a knack for the earnest do-over.
He's sorry, he writes. It's "on me." After lots of idleness, a handful of lawsuits sprayed into the wind, a few good college football games and some hours in the batting cage, it is time again, he writes, to "play ball."
After all the complications of the past couple years, Rodriguez's life becomes simple again. He can hit or he cannot.
The road from here is long. It is uphill.
Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago
In the visitors’ clubhouse, which seems to have borrowed its architectural elements from a school bus, Curtis Granderson was dressed in the yellow of Jackie Robinson West. He’d swiveled his chair toward the rear of the room, where a TV hung from the ceiling. Those kids from Chicago were up there, dressed in yellow, too, winning again, and Granderson was just going to be late for stretch if that meant seeing them through to the final out.
He cheered and others in the room did, too, because there was something cool about what was going on in that little ballpark, and there was something cool, too, about this adult being so far away and still wrapped up in it.
I’ve never watched much. Perhaps because I was 12 years old once, or because I raised two sons who spent some time as 12-year-olds (and on Little League fields), the idea of putting the Little League World Series on national television always seemed – I don’t know – intrusive. The first kid to have his lower lip go soft, I’m done. The first shot of a parent dressed ankles to forehead in team colors, nope, I’ll edge the lawn.
Not outrage. Not legalese. Not rationalizations.
And an apology.