Shohei and the Juniors

The 2021 Major League Baseball season has been full of surprises both on and off the field but the very first mystery that needs be cleared up is, without doubt, why the heck are all of the umpires wearing those weird patches on their shirts that say FTX? I kept waiting for an announcer to clue me in, but so far even the great Hall of Fame guy, Jon Miller, has let me down. Unless, of course, I missed it. According to the corporate robots at MLB, my tedious research has revealed, “FTX is our first ever umpire uniform patch partner.” They go on to add that sports have been a proven marketing tool and that FTX is a cryptocurrency exchange. They don’t give us nickels for empty pop bottles, so here’s hoping that their enterprise goes right down the sewer.

Really, though, the most exciting development of the season so far, the Yankees losing notwithstanding, has been the emergence of Shohei Ohtani. The Babe Ruth comparisons don’t really jibe but oh my! as Dick Enberg would say. Since 2018, when he began his Anaheim career after a few good seasons in Japan, he has clubbed 81 home runs in 344 games. Currently, he leads the majors in homers this year. Plus, he pitches very well. I sincerely hope that all of you advocates for the universal DH are taking note of that. Now, as a member of the Baby Boomer generation that is beginning to crowd the cemeteries nationwide,I realize that we can’t go back. We can’t go back to the way things were before 1973 or even 2020. Designated sitters are entrenched in the game now, just like popcorn, beer, and mountains of statistics. People have been successfully brainwashed that pitchers batting is boring, even more boring than Dave Kingman. Coaches don’t teach bunting or the hit and run et cetera. It would take years to re-establish situational batting and all of that. Still, it does the heart good to see any pitcher that can rake. Thank you, Shohei.

Another very fun thing has been the juniors. Specifically, I mean Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. and Fernando Tatis, Jr. They are both 22 years old and they are both very good. Guerrero has 32 homers and 79 runs batted in for the Toronto-Buffalo-Florida Blue Jays, playing corner infield spots and DH. He is big, six feet and two inches tall and a reported 250 pounds, so maybe his career won’t last as long as his dad’s, but he sure is fun now. Since 2019, young Tatis has hit 68 homers in 223 games and he does everything well except stay healthy. Plus he is a gifted shortstop, so the Padres are happy.

Those two are the best, but there are several sons of former major league ballplayers around these days. Toronto has kind of cornered the market. Besides Guerrero, they have Bo Bichette, a 23 year old shortstop who is the son of Dante Bichette, and Cavan Biggio, a 26 year old second baseman whose father is Craig Biggio , who was once a Killer Bee. Pittsburgh boasts Ke’Bryan Hayes,23, whose father also played third base for the Phillies, Giants, and Rockies. Cam Bedrosian, 29 years old, is a pitcher now for Oakland but previously for Anaheim since 2014. Raul Mondesi has a son named Adalberto, 25, who stole 24 bases for Kansas City last year and plays a good shortstop when healthy. Another junior, Delino DeShields, is at AAA Round Rock currently but has played for the Rangers since 2015. Daz Cameron, son of Mike Cameron, is playing some outfield for the Detroit Tigers at age 24. Ryan Weathers, the son of former pitcher David Weathers, has made eleven starts pitching for San Diego.

Why do I feel old sometimes? Well, there is also a grandson. Mike Yastrzemski is 30 and playing well in the Giants’ outfield, and I remember when grandpa Carl Yastrzemski was a rookie replacing Ted Williams for Boston.

So it looks like we will have interesting races for the next two months if the killer virus remains somewhat under control. If so, it will help us forget the runner on second in extra innings, sticky stuff, the horrible thing being done to Oakland Athletic fans, 7 inning doubleheader games, and how boring ESPN Sunday nights have become. I’ll save my rant about Joe Buck talking to All Star players while they are playing for another time.

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