The off-season in baseball is a live example of mountains and valleys, flurries of action and silence for days. There are often periods of rapid signings and trades, and then while the market readjusts and teams reorganize their wish lists, we have silence. The Holiday season is a prime example of this silent period, and thus I look at some recent stories that have brightened up my day in another volume of The Change-Up. Get at me on Twitter with any stories that you’ve enjoyed this off-season @simplemanbrook
1) Right handed reliever Heath Bell has had a rough couple of seasons. He’s had a rough three seasons to be precise. Once one of the top closers in major league baseball, Bell has bounced around six different teams over the past four seasons. From 2009 – 2011, Bell had 134 saves and appeared in three straight All Star games. From 2012 – 2014, Bell has 34 saves, has been traded, released and worked on a couple of minor league deals. So where the hell is the positive spin on this dreadful story? WELL, Bell has inspired me with his honest, humble and passionate essay he recently released on Derek Jeter’s media website after being signed by The Washington Nationals to a minor league contract. The following is a quote from it, I hope it makes you smile the same way it did me.
“I wouldn’t want to do anything else; you live and die by your last outing, by your last at bat, by your last pitch. It’s what it means to be a closer.”
2) Another member of The Washington Nationals was in the news recently for positive reasons. Right handed starter Doug Fister was in the Christmas spirit this year as he tweeted out a barcode on a Starbucks gift card he owned with simple instructions. Fister invited his followers to show this picture at their nearest Starbucks location and ask the barista to scan the barcode for a free coffee. His only request was that no one be a “Scrooge” and use it more than once. I understand it’s not necessarily a huge, grand, gesture, but I think it’s a really cool move. Often times in a world of big egos and “one up” competitions, it’s nice to see a relatively low key humble guy do something simple to make his fans and follower’s day. He’s certainly got a new fan and follower in this guy.
3) One of the reasons I love the sporting world so much is how the athletes, management and fans, rally to support each other and their communities in hard times. A couple of weeks ago, the Policing community in New York was rocked by the tragic deaths of officers Rafael Romos and Wenjan Liu in an unprovoked attack. The New York Mets veteran All Star third baseman David Wright whose father was police officer growing up heard the news and made a very touching gesture. He called the two young sons of officer Romos, spoke to them for 15 minutes and invited them to be his guests in Florida next year for Spring Training. A nice gesture for kids who need some happiness right now. People close to Wright said that he was deeply moved from his call to the kids. It’s refreshing to see a million dollar athlete think about and reach out to unsolicited to the people that really matter in these tragic moments. Wright has always been a character player on the field and it’s awesome to see this character off the field.
4) In a related story, another nice gesture by the baseball community in New York was done by the George Steinbrenner established Silver Shield Foundation. The charity which was set up in 1982 after Steinbrenner attended a funeral of a fallen officer, helps set up educational funds for the children of slain police officers and fire fighters. Since 1982, they have given scholastic aid to over 830 children. Officer Romos’ sons will have $40,000 set aside in a college fund for them when they’re ready. It’s really nice to see the New York sporting community rally and support these families through this tragedy and know that a financial burden such as education has a huge head start already in place.
5) To wrap this column with a lighter piece, we turn to a baseball/football crossover story. On the weekend the San Francisco 49ers played their final game of the season in a win over the Arizona Cardinals. The game would end up being the final of Coach Jim Harbaugh’s tenure in San Fran. In a touching (insert sarcasm) gesture, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was on hand for the game, and made a point after its completion to find Harbaugh and congratulate him on his time with the team. Apparently A-Roid invited Harbaugh to come as a guest of his to a game any time he’s in New York. Can you imagine all the pleated khaki glory all over the huge jumbotron at Yankee Stadium? Just imagining those two d-bags together in the Bronx makes a fella well up with tears of joy.
Photo Credit: nydailynews.com