My Jackie

Every April 15th, Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day but due to Covid, that celebration had been moved to August 28th, and it couldn’t have fallen during a more appropriate time.  Although the date itself is significant in Jackie’s history as the day that he met Branch Rickey in 1945 to discuss joining the Dodgers, it proved to be a day when racial injustice was again the main topic of the day and fitting that it was also the 65th anniversary of the lynching of 14 year old Emmett Till. Protests have sparked across the county this week after the August 23rd shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rioting began that night as the Kenosha County Courthouse, and the violence continued into Tuesday, when an armed “militia” arrived to “protect their city”. Video shows that the police department encouraged the vigilantes while the department publicly said that they were not invited and not welcomed. The violence would lead to 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse from Illinois shooting three protestors, killing two. It has been reported that after the shootings Rittenhouse tried to turn himself into police, and even approached them with his hands up. The police did not stop or question him even as other witnesses were telling them that he was the shooter.

Outraged, players from the NBA and WNBA protested by not playing their games scheduled for that evening as a sign of solidarity with black communities, by using their platforms to raise awareness to this ongoing problem, and demand change. Six Major League Baseball teams, the Reds, Brewers, Mariners, Padres, Giants, and Dodgers also decided not to play. Although the Oakland Athletics would decide to not play their Thursday night game, it did not go unnoticed that the team from a city with such a large black population, and historically known for its vocal and demonstrative fights for social justice, did not postpone their game on Wednesday night.

On Friday Jackie Robinson day was celebrated across the league. Every team wore the #42 on their jerseys as a remembrance, and even more so players told their stories of racial inequality and injustice. I personally learned about Posy Lombard, mother of Dodgers first base coach George Lombard, and her civil rights activism throughout her life until her tragic death in 1985. Oddly enough the Athletics found themselves not playing again as the Astros, whose previous two games had been postponed due to Hurricane Laura, chose not to play their game Friday night as it was their first opportunity to show their support for the Black Lives movement. In a memorable pre-game ceremony, the two teams went on to the field and placed an Astros and an A’s #42 jersey in the batter’s box with a Black Lives Matter shirt on home plate as they observed a moment of silence before exiting the field. Coincidentally Jackie Robinson Day came to a close with the news that actor Chadwick Boseman died after battling colon cancer for four years. Boseman will be most remember for his role as Black Panther, but he is also known for portraying Jackie Robinson in the 2013 Brian Helgeland film, “42”.  All of this took place while Rittenhouse, who was charged with first degree intentional homicide, first degree reckless homicide, and two counts of first degree recklessly endangering safety, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18, had his extradition hearing originally scheduled for Friday the 28th pushed back to September 25th.

On Jackie Robinson Day, La Vida Baseball (@lavidabaseball) asked in a tweet, “What does this day mean to you”? I had never considered the importance of this day and how it affected me. I kept the question in the back of my mind as I went about my day when it finally hit me that Jackie Robinson was bigger than breaking the color barrier in baseball. I replied to the tweet in this manner, “As we approach the 50th anniversary of the death of Ruben Salazar, Jackie Robinson reminds me that there are many more Jackie Robinsons in many different fields. As a Mexican-American striving to be a journalist that matters, I’m remembering Salazar and his contribution for us”. Ruben Salazar was a Mexican-American writer for the Los Angeles Times, and today, August 29th, marks the 50th anniversary of his death while covering the National Chicano Moratorium March in 1970.

The March began as a protest over the disproportionate number of Latinos who served and were killed during the Vietnam War.  Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputies were already on the scene for the rally after the march, and as the protest became more violent, Salazar went to take a break and get a drink at a local bar. As the rioting escalated, the Sheriff’s Department bussed in untrained cadets for backup, and a tear gas projectile flew into the bar striking Salazar in the head and killing him. The death was ruled a homicide, as many believed it was actually an assassination, but Deputy Tom Wilson was never prosecuted. Gustavo Arellano of the Los Angeles Times recently described Salazar’s writing as “the Chicano version of the Gnostic Gospels”. He was a pioneer in journalism for Mexican-Americans, our Jackie Robinson if you will.

Salazar’s headlines could fit into any news story we read today, and while much has changed since his death, we are still dealing with the same problems we faced as a nation 50 years ago; war, police brutality, racial tension, and civil unrest, it all remains the same. The 70s would go on to produce a new wave of Mexican-American activists who challenged our values of the past. The Chicano Power Movement was strong leading to many more Mexican-American voices joining forces to be heard, to include the Brown Berets who were inspired by the Black Panthers to bring attention to police brutality against Latinos. So why aren’t more people today talking about Latinos killed by police? They represented 16% of those shot by police in 2016, second only to blacks at 25% according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. I’m not trying to cry foul, but to point out that Latino civil rights issues are too focused on immigration issues, and mainly that of the undocumented. Unfortunately, immigration only makes the issue of police brutality that much more difficult for Latinos as the media seems to only focus on black and white incidents. This in turn takes the focus away from all other cases of police brutality, and if the focus is small, that can only mean that the attention given to other injustices will also be small.

Baseball, with all the good its trying to do now by supporting Black Lives Matter, and their programs to make the game more accessible to inner city kids, still has a problem with minorities. On August 9, 2020, Jim Passon (@PassonJim) tweeted stats showing the teams that had the lowest percentage of plate appearances by players born outside of the United States. While teams like the Yankees, Padres, and Giants boasted numbers over 30%, the Rockies had 3.9%, while the Mariners had 0% as of August 9, 2020. Some speculate that this is intentional by Mariners ownership and cite the gender and racial discrimination case filed by their former high-performance director Lorena Martin.

Minorities all have a right to equal justice, and if you have a problem with what is going on in our country, think about this quote by Ruben Salazar, “The point is that whatever one may think of the merits of either side of these cases, grassroot movements such as the school walkouts bring out these important overall issues. And that is what democracy is about”. Salazar is remembered as a martyr, but we must rediscover, and remember him as a reporter.

Stone to Mayeux to Nakken

The love of baseball spans generations and with that ethnicity, social status, and gender. Alyssa Nakken was added to the San Francisco Giants staff in January 2020 making her the first woman to be named as a full time coach for a Major League team. She further made history on July 20, 2020 when she replaced Antoan Richardson as the first base coach for the San Franciso Giants becoming the first woman to coach on the field of a Major League Baseball game. This is the most recent chapter for women in baseball as women have been playing baseball for years, but it feels like no one seemed to notice until Penny Marshall made, “A League of their Own” in 1992.

The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), which is featured in the film, existed from 1943-1954 and came into existence during World War II when men were being sent to war, and Major League team owners were looking to try and replace their lost income by keeping baseball fresh in the public’s eye.  The AAGPBL paved the way for women’s professional sports, but the Negro Leagues turned out to be much more progressive as the boys came back from the war. Two years prior to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, Toni Stone suited up for the San Francisco Sea Lions of the West Coast Negro Leagues, and in 1949 the New Orleans Creoles until before finally getting a break in 1953 to play second base for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro League, who interestingly enough featured a man by the name of Henry Aaron as their second baseman the year prior.

Twenty years after the AAGPBL, and Toni Stone played their last professional games, the Little League Federal Charter was amended in 1974 to finally allow girls to play Little League baseball. Many women have come through the Little League system, and while most seemed to be steered away into fastpitch softball there are a few who kept pushing forward such as Victoria Roche who in 1984 became the first girl to play in the Little League World Series (LLWS), Krissy Wendell who also played in the LLWS and went on to Captain the U.S. Women’s National Hockey team to Olympic Silver and Bronze Medals.

There of course have been other trailblazing women in baseball such as the Colorado Silver Bullets who played from 1994-1997 barnstorming against men’s amateur and semi-pro teams. The team was managed by baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro and included Julie Croteau who was the first women to play and coach at the collegiate level. Ila Borders would go on to become the first woman to pitch in a Men’s NCAA/NAIA game, as well as one of the first women to pitch in professional baseball after Mamie “Peanut” Johnson who also played in the Negro Leagues. Justine Siegal would get the honor of being the first woman to throw batting practice for a Major League team as she did for the 2009 Cleveland Indians, and in 2015 the Oakland Athletics hired her as a guest coach for two weeks during the Arizona Fall League. Justine’s accomplishments would not be the only major accomplishment for women in baseball in 2015.

Melissa Mayeux a 16 year old girl from Trappes, France burst onto International headlines by becoming the first women to earn a spot on Major League Baseball’s International Registry and becoming eligible for the Draft. Growing up playing baseball, Melissa first caught the attention of Major League baseball scouts while playing in a showcase tournament in Barcelona, Spain. “The first time I got noticed I was playing in Barcelona, and I got a base hit off a pitcher who was throwing 91…I hit the ball hard, but I was just being me. I wanted to be a smart player and try to hit in the hole all the time”, Melissa said. Ultimately the International Draft came and went, without Melissa being selected by any team. She continued to play baseball for the next two years and even spent time at International Baseball Camps organized by Major League Baseball for elite prospects abroad.  Looking back on the experience Melissa said of the attention that she got, “I was just playing with the guys. For me it was just like too many people talking about it when it really wasn’t a big deal”. Melissa is grateful for her experience, but she feels that women still have a long way to go in breaking into baseball and being accepted as equals, “I think (women have) come a long way but there is still a long way to go in baseball. I remember when I was in the academy no girls were allowed to play baseball at first but with the advancement that we have seen with American women, in France we now have a Woman’s Baseball National Team”. Melissa discovered how hard it was to break into baseball as she looked for scholarships in the United States, “I had always wanted to come to the United States when I was done with high school, and I was looking for a scholarship in JUCO (Junior College) Baseball and a lot schools told me that they couldn’t give me a scholarship because I was a girl. So my goal since I was young was to always come to the States and the only way I could do it was by getting interest through softball”, which is what brought Melissa to Miami-Dade College.

The transition to softball did not come easy for Melissa as she and her coaches worked for days on end teaching her how to properly throw and catch a softball, but she never gave up. After spending two season at Miami-Dade the time had come for Melissa to transfer, and although she was having a good season with the Sharks, and there were plenty of teams showing interest in her playing for them, she wasn’t happy with the offers that she was being given. Luckily she had an in with Louisanna-Lafayette, “We had an American coach for the international team one year and he was a good friend of the coach at Louisiana and he just showed him videos and that’s how I came here”. One of Melissa’s teammates on the Rajin’ Cajuns softball team was also no stranger to baseball. Sarah Hudek, daughter of former Major League pitcher John Hudek, has been a member of the United States Women’s National Baseball team and won Gold at the 2015 Pan American Games.

Melissa came out swinging in her 2020 debut with the Rajin Cajuns going 2-2 with 3 RBI including a homerun against Texas-San Antonio during a nationally televised game, she showed everyone that the hype around her was real. Unfortunately, the pandemic shut down the season, and like so many of us she is left in limbo, “Right now its hard because all the fields are closed, so my roommates with me at the house are trying to stay healthy and in shape but its really hard because we just don’t know, we’re waiting for something, anything”. Melissa lost more than her softball season as the worldwide pandemic forced the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed until 2021, and the qualifying European Championships which Melissa had intended to participate in were also cancelled.  

Melissa will be a senior next year and decisions will need to be made about her future, “I want to keep playing after college” Mayeux says, “but it all depends on the opportunities that I’ll be given. Its hard for several players here and its getting harder, the level of play is just much better than in Europe. You have to get better every day if you want to be on the field. I know if I don’t have any opportunities, I’ll go back to Europe and find an opportunity there, but I would really like to stay in the states because I would really like to make my life here”. The difficulties that all college students face have been compounded by Covid-19, but even more so for student-athletes like Melissa who are here on visas. Early in July the Trump Administration required that International students must take classes in person to stay in the country legally this fall despite the global pandemic, and schools opting to deliver their classes through online video services. This would cause an extraordinary hardship on Melissa, “Its stressful because we don’t know what’s going to happen. I have been here since before the virus started and I don’t understand why, it just doesn’t make sense to me. So basically when school was cancelled, I thought about going back home straight up, just to do something, but then the whole virus got crazy, and the school wanted me to sign some paperwork that said if I’m leaving, I’m willing to leave my scholarship, and I couldn’t do it”. Luckily for Melissa, and the thousands more like her, after this interview had been conducted the Trump Administration has walked back its controversial decision to force International students to take at least one face to face class to remain in the country.

Melissa’s story is just one woman’s experience with baseball, but day in and day out young women are fighting to show that they belong in baseball, the board rooms, and the front office. Women continue to make strides in baseball, yet when they suit up to play ball, the resistance faced by early pioneers like Toni Stone are still faced today 70 years later, and girls are told that they can’t or shouldn’t play baseball solely based on their gender. On the subject, Melissa shared part of a discussion she had with Sarah Hudek, “I asked her what she liked better (baseball or softball), and she said, softball because she wasn’t looked at like an object”. Society needs to change how girls are seen in the game of baseball especially as they continue to excel on the field. A new generation of women playing baseball has arrived, and the U.S. National team has stars in Kylee Lahners, Danae Benites, and Megan Baltzell, among others who blaze the path and face obstacles head on. These obstacles don’t phase Melissa either as she looks ahead she sees herself, “Living in Miami Beach, playing in a professional softball league, and maybe training people in baseball and softball, but I was thinking about this the other day, and I’d love to get into MLB and be a coach”. Well Melissa, you’ve been knocking on the door for 5 years, and Alyssa Nakken has just opened it.

One Year Out

Today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Finally! I’m finding it very hard to be excited about this season and I’m not sure why. Maybe its life; our lives in general that have me down. Maybe its the way the owners treated the players and the drama they caused before they started Summer Camp. Maybe it’s the mere fact that we are even playing baseball during the pandemic. We need some normalcy in our lives so I’m grateful for the game, but at the same time, the exhibition games I’ve watched are rather eerie, or maybe, just maybe, it’s the fact that sports once again is a reflection of our lives and society. While baseball is about to start, the Tokyo Summer Olympics which were set to start yesterday are now scheduled to start a year from today.

Olympic Softball was set to return yesterday. After a 12 year hiatus, USA Softball would once again be on the world stage and show its dominance in game 1 of the tournament, but it could not happen because of the pandemic. I was lucky enough to see that last team play in 2008. The team was STACKED with Jennie Finch, Cat Osterman, Monica Abbot, Caitlin Lowe, Laura Berg, Crystal Bustos, Vicky Galindo, Andrea Duran, Natasha Watley, and others who led the team to a Silver Medal in Beijing. This past Spring Team USA lead by Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman, and featured Sacramento area natives Ally Carda (Elk Grove) and Ali Aguilar (Orangevale) were set to make a stop at Sutter Health Park before COVID shut us all down.  The 2020….umm…2021 team features some amazing players as well such as former Cal star Val Arioto, Florida’s Aubree Munroe, Alabama’s Haylie McCleney, and Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts.  It’s a bit sad to think of what could have been, but that stage will be there again, one year out.

And There Goes Rickey!

I first met Rickey Henderson the winter of 1989 at a baseball card show held at the Holiday Inn off J st in Sacramento. It was cold and raining when my mom dropped me off. Admission was $5 and there was a $10 fee to meet Rickey and get his autograph. I’m grateful that my parents foot the bill, but it also cut into my baseball card allowance. I waited in line for what seemed like an eternity to meet Rickey and although I was fifty feet away from him at most, I couldn’t see him because of the crowd. When I finally got to the front of the line I handed Rickey a card to sign and shyly asked, “Mr. Henderson can I get a picture with you?” Without looking up he simply replied “yes.” I handed my camera to the gentleman behind me and sat in the folding chair next to Rickey. A quick snap and it was done. I was excited to meet Rickey and to that point getting a picture with him was the highlight of my life. This was long before digital cameras so once I got my photo back from being developed I was greatly disappointed. I had a weird look on my face, my mouth was open as though I was saying something, and Rickey was still signing my card. Oh bother!

I would run into Rickey again 30 years later during the summer of 2019 while covering the Bay Bridge Series between the A’s and Giants. That weekend included a reunion of the 1989 World Series Champion Oakland A’s. I was standing near the A’s dugout when Rickey appeared and walked right by me on his way to do a radio interview on the field. I
followed close behind and took a few quick photos. Once the radio interview was over Rickey came back to mingle with his old teammates and answer a few questions from the media. Sadly I wasn’t fortunate enough to get a question in, but behind his sunglasses we appeared to make eye contact. After 30 years I never expected Rickey to remember me but ever since that day….

Rickey Henderson is in the Hall of Fame and deservedly so. His career spanned four decades and he is considered to be the greatest lead off hitter of all time. Rickey is also the all time stolen base leader with 1,406 which far easily eclipsed Lou Brock’s previous mark of 938. I don’t follow crime rates but it’s easy to see that Rickey was a master base stealer.

We live in a fairly quiet neighborhood, we have two cats and a dog, and are pretty happy; but when crime hits home it hurts. Since that day in Oakland last summer, my things are going missing around the house and I think it’s Rickey. As a matter of fact, since I sat down to write this my pen disappeared. It was right next to me on the desk. The door is closed and I didn’t even hear Rickey come into my office! Why would Rickey want my pen?? Wait a minute…
here’s my pen, it rolled under my printer. Sorry about that. Okay, maybe I was wrong about the pen but there are other things missing that I’m sure Rickey must have taken.

I don’t think Rickey takes my stuff maliciously but more so to irritate me. I get why someone would steal a car, but why my car keys? My wallet is regularly stolen but conveniently returned and hidden in the back pocket of yesterday’s pants. The funny thing is that Rickey never takes anything of any value.

I wear reading glasses now and it really upsets me when I can’t find them. There isn’t a day that Rickey doesn’t swipe a pair of glasses from me, he is 60 years old now, but it gets worse. The other day I went for some leftover pizza in the fridge, and when I opened the door, it was gone! Obviously “someone” stole this in the middle of the night. I guess if he is so hungry he must be in a pickle.

Living in the capital of the Golden State, along with the recent protests, civil unrest, and looting over the murder of George Floyd, I hear politians talk about getting “tough on crime.” When it comes to Rickey and his habitual stealing, I, like the catchers during his career, would like to lock him up and throw away the key. Better yet, hang them on the key rack where they belong and I’ll never find them there.

Disclaimer: This post is all in good fun. In no way am I claiming that Rickey Henderson is
taking my things, I just have a wild imagination. Maybe one day I’ll write about my dream where Junipero Serra stole my goat.

Draft Day Rewind


Draft week is upon us and as the tension mounts let’s go back in time to an interview I had with former Yankees #1 pick Slade Heathcott. This article was originally published on Bridget Mulcahy’s “Cheap Little Swing” Blog:


Slade Heathcott was drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft by the New York Yankees and spent 10 years in professional baseball with the Yankees, White Sox, Giants, and A’s. He retired on January 15, 2019. Below is a transcript of this interview:

DE: When were you first considered a prospect and start having scouts get in contact with you about the possibility of being drafted?

SH: My junior summer after having lived in Dallas and playing for a travel team, teams started coming to see me that summer and throughout the rest of the year.

DE: You were as they say a “bonus baby.” How did that impact the life you knew, and how did it help shape who you are today?

SH: I was a mess right after being signed. I was bouncing in bars the first couple weeks after signing, staying out all night partying, and so many other opportunities all of which I am very thankful for because they were a part of the process to get where I am today. I think it definitely gave me a sense of entitlement that was quickly calmed due to all my injuries and surgeries.

DE: Who told you that you were first going up, and how did they do it?

SH: My manager Miley, I was holding my son feeding him late after a game one night. I didn’t have phone on me, so they actually called one of my roommates and relayed that I needed to call.

DE: Can you tell me about your first day up, and what your favorite memory is of your time with the Yankees?

SH: It was surreal, it happened all so fast. I packed overnight and was in DC the next morning. My time with the Yankees was full of so many incredible moments; my first roll call, first home run on Memorial Day of all days, and the home run to put us ahead in Tampa Bay.

Slade Heathcott
Slade played for the Sacramento River Cats during the 2017 season. He appeared in 26 games and had a .290 AVG, .435 SLG, and .837 OPS.

DE: What was it about your Minor League experience that made you want to get involved with More Than Baseball?

SH: Jeremy and I had something in common, in that we wanted to make the lives of Minor League players better right now. Minor League players are in the top one percentile of their profession and get paid as a season intern title. Food and equipment are some of the biggest challenges when you are getting $7,500 a year before taxes and expenses. Other challenges are paying for an apartment at your affiliate, living on the road eating fast food because that is all players can afford, and the worst is guys having to retire because they do not have a bat to play with.

DE: Looking back at your experience, what advice would you give to this year’s and future draft picks, and would that advice change if they went in either the 1st
or 40th round?

SH: Go to college, get prepared for life and then come out ready to tackle the world and to tackle the game of baseball. Baseball allows for an amazing opportunity for players to build their own personal brands and use connections around the game to make things happen on the entrepreneurial front. Take full advantage of that and use your platform to impact as many lives as possible.

You can follow Slade Heathcott at @heathcott_slade. For other projects that Slade is involved with and that support the betterment of Minor League Baseball and its communities, please check out and follow:
MoreThanBaseball.org — @MTB_org

Thank you to Slade Heathcott for his time and cooperation. This interview was conducted by David Espinoza in May 2019. Published by Bridget Mulcahy on Cheap Little Swing.

Darth Dinger

May the fourth be with you… and also with you. Wait, are we in a galaxy far, far away or at church? Nevermind that, Happy Star Wars day everyone!! Who else agrees with me that Episode IX, The Rise of Skywalker, was the best film of them all? Pew! Pew! I’m glad your shooting is as good as a stormtroopers, that was close. Really though, I love Episode IX.

One month of what would be 2020 baseball season is in the books, and virtual baseball games just don’t cut it for me. This week I decided to turn back time to what was April 2019 for the Sacramento River Cats.

Opening night 2019 would start the season with a wild extra inning game. It would be the first time in River Cats history that the home opener would go into extra innings, and ended with catcher Aramis Garcia sliding head first into home to just beat the tag and walk-off the game! Little did we know that this would be the making of an amazing season, especially as the Las Vegas Aviators would dominate the entire Pacific Coast League in April.

The first homerun of 2019 would come the next day off the bat of Stephen Vogt, and Carmichael native Zach Green, who came in to replace an injured Ryder Jones on opening night, would get off to a blazing start by hitting .500 with two home runs in the first four games. April would also start to put the name of some guy named Yas… Ya… Yaz… Uh… Yastrzemski in the minds of River Cats fans, and although many could say it, not a whole lot could spell it… for now.

Despite the hot offensive start in all of baseball, River Cats pitching was ice cold. Six of the first seven starting pitchers would fail to pitch more than four innings. Then there was Tyler Beede whose dominance was overshadowed by a bullpen that couldn’t hold a lead, and players who couldn’t field or throw a ball.

Halfway through the month of the River Cats were a dismal 6-7, and four of those losses were to the Aviators who were an amazing 10-2 at this point of the season. April would also mark the return of Mac Williamson to the River Cats lineup after being sent down early by the Giants to make room for Kevin Pillar. Williamson was a favorite of manager Bruce Bochy and barely made the Giants roster out of Spring Training. Although the writing was on the wall that the front office no longer wanted Williamson, Mac would go on a tear that would force the Giants’ hand to bring him back to the big leagues.

Saturday April 20, 2019 was one of the most memorable nights of the young season. The River Cats celebrates 20 years of baseball with throwback jerseys which featured the classic pinstripes they wore from 2000-2002. This was also the first locally televised game of 2019 and the fans in the stands and at home were treated with a total of eight home runs between the two teams which included six River Cats home runs between five different players. This would be the most homeruns the River Cats had hit in a game since June 17, 2009 when they hit eight! The best catch I’ve ever seen at Raley Field happened that night as Mike Yastrzemski climbed the wall in right centerfield on the run and extended his body halfway over the fence to rob Salt Lake’s Matt Thaise of his second home run of the night. It was a catch that should have been on sports center. The fans also got their first look at Sam Selman who worked two innings and struck out four. 2019 would become a dream season for Sam that would include a Triple-A all star game appearance and his Major League debut later that summer.

There were some promising moments in April, but there was also a lot of bad. How bad you might ask? On April 27, 2019 the River Cats FINALLY ended a 10-game streak in which they committed at least one error, which included a game with three errors, and a league leading 30 errors. The game on the 27th was only the fifth time that season in which the River Cats had not committed an error. To make matters worse, the River Cats were 4-1 in those games.
The River Cats ended April 2019 atop the Pacific Coast League Pacific Northern Division, two games ahead of the Fresno Grizzlies, with a record of 13-12. Tyler Beede was without a doubt the team’s best pitcher as he was 7th in the league in both ERA with 1.99, and WHIP with 1.06. Mac Williamson was the team’s hottest hitter and ranking 10th in the league with a .373 average, and leading the team in both home runs and RBI.

I hope you enjoyed our little trip down memory lane. It was a tough start to 2019 but in the end it was a dream season. On a side note I attended the May 4, 2019 game as both a journalist, and a fan. My Aunt Francis, and cousins Florence and John came out to enjoy the game with me as the River Cats took a no hitter into the fifth inning. It was an interesting insight to view a game from both perspectives in the same night. Look for my book in the fall to see how it all played out.

Bubble Gum Baseball

Doctor, doctor, give me the news! I’ve got a bad case of loving baseball! Well there’s nothing much to say I guess as it’s just the same as all the rest, and I’m trying to wrap my mind around a summer without baseball as we know it. May is just around the corner though and that gives us some hope of a baseball in a bubble.

Major League Baseball has considered holding baseball in a bubble of the Cactus and
Grapefruit Leagues Spring Training Facilities to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Can
baseball be played safely in a bubble? Dr. Fauci thinks it just might work… if we aren’t there.
The idea is simple. Teams would play in empty stadiums, players would be restricted to the
ballparks and their hotels, and the fans can’t be there to watch. This move should open
everyone’s eyes to the fact that baseball is a business. Professional baseball is not always run
for the love of the game, but for paychecks and profits. There is nothing wrong with that, and
there is nothing wrong with loving the game. Would baseball in a bubble be worse than no
baseball at all? Are my hopes for baseball in a bubble just selfish? Maybe so.

Players appear to be in favor of the baseball in a bubble idea, as I’m sure they are anxious to get paid, I mean play. Yet this plan gives no mention as to what to do with the players’ families if they are on a strict lockdown? Talks have not determined if families would also be put up in the players hotels and there is no telling how the body of players would respond to the situation. Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers said it would be easy for him because although he is married, he and his wife Kourtney do not have any children. He sees how difficult and lonely it would be for single players, as well as the additional burdens the players with children will carry if they are gone for so long. Turner’s teammate Clayton Kershaw said last week that if his family were not with him, he wouldn’t play. Kershaw’s reasoning is that their 3 month old child has done so much in that time that he would hate to miss out on all he would do in the 4 months that he would be away, and he simply wouldn’t do it. How many more players feel that way, and what would the game look like without superstars like Kershaw? Having children myself and having spent some months away from them even as young adults is difficult, and it’s much worse for everyone when they are younger

I miss baseball. I want to watch baseball games, and I want to go to baseball games; but I don’t want to be selfish. I would watch baseball in a bubble, but I would think of the players and coaches if they are left without their families and friends. No, their lives would be far from those serving in the military, or anyone serving time in jail; but anytime your freedom is taken from you that burden wears on your spirit, and would ultimately change the game.

Beede Spurns Blue Jays

Ever since the debacle that was Matt Harrington, I’ve been fascinated with baseball players who decide not to sign after being selected in the first round of the MLB draft. So in 2011 when Tyler Beede decided to attend Vanderbilt over signing with the Blue Jays, it instantly piqued my interest and I started to follow his career. Opting not to sign as any draft pick, let alone one selected in the first round, comes with many risks. See Matt Harrington, and even more recently Brady Aiken. Beede gambled on himself, his ability, and his health during his three years with the Commadores; but his gamble paid off.

Beede would have a stellar career at Vandy which led to the San Francisco Giants to select him with the 14th pick overall pick of the 2014 draft. This selection would actually be higher than when the Jays selected him in 2011. Beede’s career was a mixed bag between 2014-2017 when he earned his first promotion to Triple-A Sacramento. There were some setbacks in those first few years but he continued to progress steadily through the Giants’ minor league system.

Beede would start 2018 in Sacramento for his first full season in Triple-A. Although he would make his major league debut, 2018 was nothing short of a nightmare for Tyler. After two starts with the Giants, Beede was sent back to Sacramento and relegated to the bullpen. Tyler’s new role suited him well. His second half showed much more promise as he was used in the middle innings by manager Dave Brundage as a stopper. Beede had appeared to
make a slight adjustment to his delivery and revamped his arsenal. The transition to the bullpen looked like a success. The changes and newfound confidence looked like the Giants had found his niche for 2019 and beyond.

When Opening Day 2019 rolled around, Beede was back in Sacramento and in the starting rotation; he would dominate the Pacific Coast League. Beede’s eventual return to the Giants was disastrous and he would last less than two innings against the Reds. Tyler would go up and down between Sacramento and San Francisco the remainder of the season with mixed outings for the Giants, and continue to dominate the River Cats in Triple-A. Beede would eventually earn his first Major League win on June 17, 2019 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. This was bittersweet for me as I was so excited for Tyler, but I’m also a Dodgers fan.

I was lucky enough to be on hand to see Beede’s final outing of 2019. Beede got the ball on a beautiful sunny afternoon in San Francisco against Nolan Arenado and the Colorado Rockies. It was a big weekend for the San Francisco Giants as they were honoring Bruce Brochy’s retirement at the end of the season. Tyler would make it memorable as he was literally perfect that day.


The dominance he had shown in Sacramento, and the reason he was a two-time first round pick was on full display for all to see; unfortunately something happened after one pitch to Trevor Story to start the fifth. Beede would be pulled from the game because he felt some discomfort. He would later say that it was a precautionary measure, and that with a little rest he would be ready to go for 2020. The Giants had a star who was ready to shine.

The stars were not aligned for Beede in 2020. He would suffer from a strained UCL and a strained flexor in Spring Training. He is potentially looking at Tommy John surgery and will visit Dr. Neal Elattrache on Monday March 9th. 2020 is all but done for Beede; he will return in 2021 at the age of 28 in hopes to regain the dominance he showed in 2019.

Cheers Tyler, you got this!

And now we wait….