Archive for January, 2013

In Homer Feast Magallanes Reigns Supreme; Advances to Series del Caribe

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

There were eight homeruns hit in yesterday’s game seven match between Magallanes and Lara.  Magallanes crunched five of them giving them the edge in their 11-9 win.  Luis Jimenez started the fireworks off, launching the first of his two homeruns of the game, a 2-run shot in the first inning to give Lara a 2-0 lead.  Magallanes responded back in the bottom of the first with a leadoff homerun by Endy Chavez, his fourth for the round robin.

Magallanes then pulled away, Carlos Maldanado hitting a 3-run bomb in the second to give Magallanes the lead and Juan Rivera a 2-run blast in the third.  After three Magallanes had the upper hand 7-2.  Lara rallied for three in the top of the fourth, but Pablo Sandoval crushed his seventh homerun of the round robin, a 2-run shot and it was 10-5 after four.

In the fifth Hector Gimenez hit a solo shot for Magallanes to extend the lead to 11-5.  Luis Jimenez hit a 2-run homer in the sixth, his second of the game and Oswaldo Navarro added another 2-run shot in the ninth, but the Cardenales fell short losing 11-9.

Magallanes advances to the Series del Caribe to face Obregon, defending champion from Dominican Republic Escogido and Caguas from Puerto Rico.  The games will be played next week in Hermosillo, Mexico.

Yankees (cont - 5)

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Hall of Fame. Those words were flung so casually from his lips but they resonated clearly inside Kevin’s ears as if he caught the words cleanly in the fat part of his glove. He would be catching a ball going into the Hall of Fame, provided the hitter did not swing at the first pitch and deposit it over the fence. They would have a hard time retrieving the ball if that happened.

Kevin watched Jason scribble his name onto the predestined ball, placing the two smiling faces at the end of the two o’s in his name. He had to make the “o’s” large enough to accommodate the two dots and the curl underneath the dots. Kevin only hoped when Jasmine was old enough he could take her to Cooperstown to see the ball displayed there, to proudly tell her he caught that ball sitting in a glass case for all to admire. But they had millions of objects in the Hall. Only a few items get displayed for the public to see. What if the ball was not on display when they visited? Even if the ball was displayed only the signature of Jason appeared on the ball. The man in black did not ask Kevin to sign the ball. Anyone could brag they caught the ball. He imagined the narrative would read “This is a ball thrown by Jason Woo, the first pitcher born in China to throw a pitch in a major league exhibition game.” It would not be important enough to mention who caught the pitch.

They finally got the courage to step out of the locker room to take the long stroll towards the right field area that would take them to the field. Their metal cleats clicked rhythmically along the cement ground with each nervous step bringing them closer to the field of play. Kevin could feel the electricity from the buzz of the distant crowd. The atmosphere felt different from the minor league games the two had played in, where the people flocked to the field out of curiosity to see Jason pitch. It had a picnic in the park softball feel to it. No one was really keeping score. Results did not matter. It lacked the order and sophistication of a real ball game, of being in an arena surrounded by seats filled with adoring fans waiting in anticipation for your arrival. Kevin could feel the goose bumps crawl along his arms the closer he got to the right field area. His mouth felt dry. The bag he carried in his right hand grew heavier with each step he took, getting them closer to the field.

A few of the players ran past their leisurely pace, wishing the two luck as they slapped their gloves on their backs, the numbers on their uniform turning to a blur as they raced past. As they got closer to the field they could see the seats in the stadium filling with excited faces milling about, some still trying to find their seats, others seated looking out at the field. The buzz got louder the nearer they approached. Kevin’s mouth got drier.

It was when they reached the right field gate area, stepping onto the dirt warning track to enter the field the buzz turned into a roar as loud as any jet engine could produce. It was not hard to notice a large Asian figure stepping onto the field, especially since the video board captured their arrival. Once the crowd noticed his figure arrive on the field a wave of fans began sprinting wildly towards the right field foul line, some of them flying over seats to get to their destination, tripping and stumbling to the ground, cell phones held high in the air as they tried to capture Jason’s entrance, shouting and screaming garble Kevin could not understand or even try to figure out the words they were trying to say. From the home plate area and the first base side of the dugout a group of photographers came rushing toward them, surrounding them and taking their pictures making it more difficult for them to move forward, the flashes from their cameras blinding them to their forward progress.

A man carrying a video camera pointed his lens at Jason and his 6’5” frame. Kevin glanced up at the right centerfield video scoreboard to see Jason’s image displayed there. This created another large roar from the crowd as they watched Jason Woo, his face appearing stoic and calm as he walked toward the dugout, a slight grin appearing on his face after Kevin tells him not to look too bored because he was on the video scoreboard.

The two picked up their pace, turning a walk into a jog to find sanctuary inside the first base dugout, trying their best not to look at the fans screaming for Jason to stop and sign his autograph, balls, hats and programs extended out towards him. Fathers were carrying their kids on their shoulders, fans began to proudly wave red Chinese flags high in the air, the stadium had turned into a sea of red as more fans whipped out their red flags and began waving them proudly. Some even waved the red flag from China in one hand and the red, white and blue stars and stripes of the United States in the other. A group that had not rushed toward the right field foul line began singing a Chinese folk song. Or perhaps it was the Chinese national anthem. Kevin was not familiar with the song, but it could barely be heard over the roar.

The first person they ran into when they reached the dugout was Troy. “See what I mean. Crazy man. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Photographers were still poised outside of the dugout, cameras flashing as they tried to capture the movement of Jason in the dugout. There was no privacy on the major league field. No matter where Jason moved the cameras followed.

The players on the field had all stopped what they were doing, whether it was running quick sprints along the outfield grass, stretching on the field or throwing a baseball. They had heard the roar when Jason and Kevin first stepped onto the field. They too took notice of Jason Woo as he walked down the right field foul line. It was a spectacle none had experienced. Even the Yankee players could be seen staring in wonder at the adoration of the crowd. These were not Yankee fans. They were not even Oriole fans. They were fans of Jason Woo. It was hard to fathom a rookie player getting this much adoration.

WBC Roster - Spain

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

We did some analysis on Spain a couple days ago and posted it but during the posting all the information disappeared.  So myworld attempts to recreate it here.

Overall WBC Record: 3-1, achieved through winning a qualifier in Florida.

Previous Finishes: This is their first participation.  In the World Cup they were 9-34 but this is a better team with Cubans, Venezuelans and even Americans on the roster proving some Spanish descent in their background.  Spain finished in third place in four of the last five European championships, failing in only 2010.

World Ranking: 16

First Round 2013 Opponents: They will be playing the baseball giants in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Dominican Republic, Venzeula and Puerto Rico will be a good test.

Preliminary Roster:

Catcher: Adrian Nieto, Salomon Manriquez

First Base: Barbaro Canizares

Second Base: Paco Figuroa

Third Base: Jesus Golindano

Shortstop: Yunesky Sanchez

Utilty: Jesus Merchan

Outfield: Rafael Alvarez, Engel Beltre, Daniel Figueroa, Yasser Gomez, Fernando Martinez, Gabe Suarez

LHP: Ivan Granados, Ricardo Hernandez, Chris Manno, Antonio Noguera, Paco Rodriguez, Richard Salazar

RHP: Richard Castillo, Jose Cruz, Rhiner Cruz, Eric Gonzalez, Eddie Morlan, Leslie Nacar, Nick Schumacher

Team Summary:

This is an interesting mix of players dotting the global map.  Only two of these players played in the Spanish League (Golindano and Nacar) and two played in the Italian League (Jose Cruz and Noguera).  The team hit well in the qualifiers with every player in the starting lineup except for one hitting over .300.  Three of the four starting pitchers also pitched well, giving up only one earned run in their three combined starts.

The catchers are a current National and an ex-National mix.  Adrian Nieto played for Spain in the qualifier, hitting .313.  He was a high school teammate of Eric Hosmer when they were rated the number one high school team in the United States.  Nieto came from Cuba with his parents.  Salomon Manriquez did not play for the team but has more minor league experience, signed by the old Expos franchise.  He may have the better bat with more experience handling a pitching staff.

First base belongs to Cuban defector Barbaro Canizares.  He was the only player not to hit over .300 in the qualifier (.238) but he did hit their only homerun.  He plays in the Mexican League and is usually good for thirty plus homeruns.  He could also move to the DH spot where he is better suited.

Paco Figueroa is a scrappy player who fills the lead off spot by getting on base.  Myworld is familiar with him from his days with the Bowie Bay Sox.  He hit .438 with a .550 OBA in the qualifier.  Not a great stolen base threat but he does have some speed.  Yenesky Sanchez is another Cuban who now sees his baseball in the Independent Leagues.  He hit .368 during the qualifier.  Jesus Golindano was born in Venezuela, but at least he plays in the Spanish League.  He will play third.  He hit .357 in the qualifier.  Jesus Merchan is a career minor leaguer and can fill in at any position except for first base.

The outfield will have their star player in Engel Beltre patrolling centerfield.  Beltre is a top prospect in the Rangers system with both speed and potential power.  He hit .375 in the qualifier and was 3 for 3 in stolen bases.  The Astros may not be pleased with the brittle Fernando Martinez playing for Spain.  Injuries have prevented him from reaching his high prospect hype but he could patrol left field or play DH.  Yasser Gomez, another Cuban who won the rookie of the year award in Cuba before defecting and signing with the Braves will play another outfield spot.  He is normally a centerfielder, now playing Independent ball.  He hit .357 in the qualifier.  He will play left if Martinez DHs.  Their top hitter in the qualifiers was Gabe Suarez (.500, .647 OBA).  He played nine seasons in the minor leagues and last year played briefly in the Mexican League.  They have to find room for him in the lineup.  Rafael Alvarez is another player who hit well in the qualifiers (.375).  Of the outfielders only Suarez hits righthanded and Paco’s brother Daniel, but he only got one at bat in the qualifier.

The starting pitching will be led by Richard Castillo, a Venezuelan who pitches in the Cardinals organization.  Not a top prospect, but he did win nine games with a 3.27 ERA.  Spain will then probably go with what got them here using Ricardo Hernandez, Nick Schmacher and Richard Salazar to finish their rotation.  They only gave up one earned run (two unearned) in 17 innings of work.  All three pitched in various Independent Leagues last year.

The bullpen could be tough with major league Rhiner Cruz as the set up to 2012 draft pick Paco Rodriguez being used as the closer.  Paco became the first 2012 draft pick to reach the major leagues.  Rhiner throws hard, hitting the mid-90s with his fastball but has very little command.  Paco throws soft, from the left side, but has great command.  They will be joined by two pitchers who had great success in the qualifiers, Jose Cruz and Eddie Morlan.  The two pitchers did not give up a run in their three appearances covering seven plus innings.  Cruz struck out six in his four innings of work.  Chris Manno is another new addition to the team.  He pitched in the bullpen for the Reds AA team in Pensacola.

Projected Finish: If they win a game against the big three they should be happy.  While they hit in the qualifiers they will be facing different pitchers in the WBC.  The key will be the bats of Canizares, Martinez and Beltre.  If they can provide some offense and the starting pitching repeats their qualifier performance they could surprise.

China Trains in Arizona for WBC

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Team China is training at the Seattle Mariners spring training complex beginning January 31.  The MLB is funding the Seattle Mariners for access to their field.  While there the team will play games against junior college teams in the area.  The team will train in Arizona until February 21 when the major league team arrives to use the facilities to begin their exhibition season.  Team China will fly back home to spend four days with family before heading to Japan to play a couple exhibition games to prepare the team for the WBC on March 3 in Fukuaoka, Japan.

You can read the article here:

Myworld provides some analysis on Team China here:

Sandoval Leads Magallanes to Game Seven

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Pablo Sandoval is looking for another championship.  His three run  homer in the fourth inning gave the Navegantes a commanding 7-2 lead in a game they would win over Lara 7-3.  The less heralded Mario Lisson hit a three run homer in the second inning to give the Navegantes a 4-1 lead.  Gustavo Chacin worked five innings to pick up the win.  The seventh game will be played today to find out who from Venezuela advances to the Series del Caribe.

Yankees (cont -4)

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Kevin sat in his chair and swiveled it around like a merry go round, pretending to address questions from the press. He had always imagined what it would be like to suit up in a major league locker room. Many a player had come back and tried to describe it, but they said you had to experience it to appreciate the feeling. Now he could experience their awe.

“When I was little and playing in Little League there was this neighbor who played on the same team as I. We made a pact that if we ever got separated when we turned 18 we would meet in front of Yankee stadium to try out with the Yankees. They were both our favorite team when we were kids. As you grow up, present company excluded, you soon learn you just don’t walk up to a team and say you want to play for them. It is a long and complicated process of getting recognized by the scouts then getting drafted by a team and finally agreeing to a contract. You don’t choose who you get to play for. The whole process of cutting rosters down to 25 or 24 is a process that weeds out the weak. If Darwin were alive today he could use baseball as an example of his theory of evolution.”

“Do you still see friend?”

“He stopped by at a ball park where I was playing a couple years ago. He was very envious of what I had accomplished, even though it was obvious by this time I was a career minor leaguer. He joked with me by saying he had waited at Yankee stadium for me, but after hours of waiting when I failed to show up he bailed. He said his baseball career had ended because of me. In actuality he quit the game when he was cut by his high school coach his freshman year. He never went back to the game. He was in his senior year in college, majoring in international business or something like that when we last came in contact. I haven’t heard from him since. We exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch but we haven’t. He has probably got his degree now, pursuing a career, while I scrimp and save pursuing a baseball dream that doesn’t appear to have any legs.”

There was some noise at the entrance of the locker room as the first couple players arrived. They were noisy and appeared to be full of self confidence, obviously veterans of the game who had taken the luxury of their locker room for granted. They worked their way to the back to peek their head into the catacombs to determine if any life appeared. That is where they saw Jason and Kevin suiting up. When Kevin saw their faces he recognized them, but he didn’t know them. There were only two current Orioles he played with in the minor leagues. Major league teams were filled with the faces of minor league players Kevin had called a teammate at one time in his minor league career. These two players who walked in did not fit in that category. They had an air of professionalism about them, big builds, stylish hair and expensive threads.

They noticed Jason and Kevin sitting in front of their lockers. “Hey, how’s it going,” one of the players said with surprise filtered in with some uncertainty.

The other looked closely at Jason. “Hey look. That is the Chinaman that will be pitching tonight. You must be Jason Woo.” They went over and introduced themselves.

The locker started to get more crowded as the day progressed. Sometimes Kevin wished he could stop moments in time so he could savor them more. It all seemed to be moving too fast for him now. He was relieved to see Troy Harper finally stroll in the room, a little late for a rookie, but expected for a bonus baby spoiled by his draft status. He flashed his surfer grin when he spotted them and bear hugged them both. “I heard you were going to be making your debut,” he said with enthusiasm to Jason. “It’s already getting pretty crazy out there. National television. Sold out stadium. Nothing like putting a little pressure on you, even though it is only an exhibition game. It’s a little faster game up here, but just play your game and you’ll be all right. It’s just baseball.”

Both were now dressed in their uniforms. They fit pretty snugly. Kevin walked in front of the mirror and looked at himself to make sure the uniform was worn right. He liked to wear his pant legs up to show off his stirrups. His shirt had to be tightly tucked in. No bunching in the middle. That made him look fat. He gave Jason his cell phone and asked him to take a picture. He would have to send it to Shu for the photo album.

He wondered if Shu was watching the game. He had called her twice last night to remind her of the game. That was in between his walks along the balcony to sooth his nerves. Did she find someplace where she could watch the game? She said she had. In fact, the neighborhood was very excited Kevin was playing in a major league baseball game that was nationally televised. He had to remind her it was only an exhibition game. She spoiled it by saying everyone wanted to see Jason Woo pitch. “What about me?”

“I want to see you.” Kevin was satisfied with that.

One of the neighbors was holding a big barbecue party. When Shu had told the neighbors Jason had stayed with them for a week they were all shocked, complaining she should have brought him around to introduce him to the neighborhood.

Kevin wondered if Shu had the same pterodactyls buzzing around her stomach as she watched the television screen or if she was just gossiping with the neighbors. It was much easier for Shu to talk to people when she was in a crowded room. Kevin became more like a lamp fixture, finding a corner of the room where he could park and make his best effort not to stand out too badly, burning dimly like a low wattage bulb. Maybe Jasmine was keeping her too busy to focus on the pre-game hype. Or she left Jasmine with her mother so she could watch the game without interruption. He hoped Shu had brought Jasmine with her, but then what did it matter. At her age Jasmine really has no concept of looking inside a television tube and recognizing her father was inside, especially since he would be covered up in a mask for most of the game. It was at that point he thought it sucked being a catcher. The 45-inch television tubes in every corner of the room were tuned to the game echoing all the pre-game hype but Kevin wasn’t paying too much attention to it.

“Where’s Woo?” came a voice from the front of the room.

“Woo?” another voice cried out.

“He’s in the back,” a third voice answered.

A man dressed in black appeared from around the corner locker. He was one of the umpires for the game. He was stout and portly with a bowling ball for a belly and wide hips. His chipmunk cheeks framed his face well, hiding his second chin. He had lots of gray hair to show as evidence of his years of experience, and judging from his build he had to use that experience to cut corners when covering the bases. He didn’t look like he could run far and survive to make a call. “What are they doing putting you back here? You’re the star of the game.” He looked at Jason, a little shocked by how tall he was. Jason was standing up wearing his uniform, his shoulders level to the top of the umpire’s head. “You’re a lot taller than I imagined. Why aren’t you playing basketball? I thought everyone in China played basketball?”

“I like baseball,” was Jason’s response. He didn’t like talking in English to people he did not know.

“Somebody brought you up right. Here, I need you to sign this.” He gave Jason a ball and a pen to sign the ball.

Jason looked at the ball. “What you want me to say?”

“It’s not for me. Just your signature is good. After you make your first pitch this ball is going to the Hall of Fame.”

MLB in Brazil for Training

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

World Baseball Classic Brazillian manager Barry Larkin will lead a contingent of ex-major leaguers to Brazil on February 2-6 to provide training to players and coaches.  Others who will join Barry in the training include Dale Murphy, Craig Lefferts, Dusty Wathan, Stephen Larkin and Mike Larson.  There will also be major league scouts sitting in the stands to watch for that diamond in the rough.

You can read more about this training here:

Lara One Win from Championship

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Jose Yepez singled with the bases loaded and one out to give the Lara Cardenales a 3-2 11 inning victory over Magallanes.  Enrique Gonzalez was working his second inning of relief, but an error by Mario Lisson on a sacrifice bunt gave the Cardenales an extra out to work with.  Victor Moreno worked two shutout innings to get the win.  Cesar Jimenez pitched three shutout innings in relief, striking out six and only giving up one walk to allow Moreno the victory.

2013 Hot Stove - Royals

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Overall Assessment: The Royals spent a number of years developing prospects.  Many of the position players panned out but the pitchers have not.  This forced them to trade their top position prospect Wil Myers for two pitchers who can help them now in a decimated starting rotation.  Many have called this a quest for mediocrity.  With the AL East weaker than in past years and most of the teams balanced enough to trade wins and losses and the AL Central one of the weakest divisions in baseball the Royals saw this as a short window of opportunity to make the playoffs.  If they fail the trade will be criticized, if they make the playoffs it will be hailed.  If not for a fluke season when they finished over .500 the Royals would also be competing for the Pirates for longest losing professional franchise at 19 consecutive years.  Dayton Moore was hired in 2006 to provide Kansas City with a winner.  Most teams would not hire a GM who told them he had a six year plan for getting a team above .500, much less make the playoffs.  This will probably be his last year at the helm if he does not produce a winner.

Hot Stove Season: The Royals have done a lot to help their starting rotation.  Their first move was to claim Chris Volstad off waivers from the Cubs.  When the Angels knew they did not want to pick up the option on Ervin Santana’s contract the Royals got a bargain by trading Brandon Sisk to acquire him then picked up his $13 million option.  They also claimed another potential starter off waivers from the Rockies in Guillermo Moscoso, who like Volstad had an ERA higher than any mountain in Kansas City.  After Jeremy Guthrie declared free agency they resigned him, and to make room for him on the 40 man roster had to designate Chris Volstad for assignment, who declared free agency.  The Royals then made their big trade, acquiring two potential starting pitchers in Scott Shields and Wade Davis for one of the top prospects in baseball in Will Myers and two pretty good pitchers in Mark Montgomery and Jake Odirizzi.  The Royals development of pitchers will be questioned if Montgomery lives up to his potential.  The Royals have also made some interesting free agent signings of players to minor league contracts in the likes of George Sherril, Miguel Tejeda, Willy Taveras, Dan Wheeler, Xavier Nady, Endy Chavez, Blaine Boyer and Chad Tracy.  All these players appeared on major league rosters last year or had some success with major league teams a couple years ago.  Their most recent move was to claim George Kottaras off waivers from the Athletics.  He will be used as depth in case of injury to their starting catcher Salvador Perez.

Strength: They have some young players in their lineup who have a lot of upside.  Alex Gordon and Billy Butler are the cream of their prospect crop from a couple years ago.  Butler drove in 107 runs and Gordon mashed 51 doubles.  Salvador Perez was hurt for a good portion of the early year but shows a lot of potential behind the plate, hitting .301 and throwing out 42 percent of those baserunners trying to steal against him.  Alcides Escobar is a smooth fielding shortstop who is starting to learn to use the bat.  He was also a centerpiece in the Zach Greinke trade.  While they didn’t have great years last year a lot is still expected of corners Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.  If both have the years expected of them the Royals should score a lot of runs.  They also have three starting pitchers in Ervin Santana, Scott Shields and Wade Davis who they didn’t have last year.  That means fans may not have to see a start from Luke Hochevar, which may be a good thing.

Weakness: Lorenzo Cain is unproven in center field and Jeff Francouer had a poor year last year.  Will Myers was their big depth behind them should either struggle but the Royals traded him.  So now they have to cross their fingers and hope those positions turn out okay.  The bullpen will rely on Greg Holland, who has not yet proven himself to be a consistent closer like Joaquim Soria, who missed last year because of an injury and then left as a free agent.  If Holland fails they can turn to fireballing Kelvin Herrera.

Top Position Prospect: With Will Myers gone that tag will have to go to their 2011 number one pick Bubba Starling.  He is one of those players with a full set of tools that include, speed, power and plus throwing arm, but he must learn how to use them.  He must also learnto make better contact, striking out 70 times in 53 games last year in his first season.

Top Pitching Prospect: Royals drafted Kyle Zimmer with the first pick in 2012.  He heaves the fastball in the mid-90s.  The last picher the Royals drafted number one was Aaron Crow and he has done well in the bullpen.  As a college drafted pitcher Zimmer should move quickly.

Watch out for: Last year John Lamb pitched a few games in the Rookie Leagues.  That is because he was recovering from a blown elbow.  Prior to that he was considered the Royals top pitching prospect.  He has yet to recover his fastball but the Royals have the depth to be patient with him this year.

Rookie of the Year Prospect: Christian Colon may have to rely on an injury to one of the middle infielders to get an opportunity, but the Royals 2010 first round pick is their best option at second base.

Projected on Paper Finish: While the AL East will knock each other silly the Royals will get to face weaker AL Central teams with an improved pitching staff.  This should be enough to win the second wild card spot, but they probably will get no further than that.

Yankees (cont - 3)

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

His two hours of sleep had given him dreams of not getting his mitt up in time to catch the ball with the pitch striking Kevin’s face mask, knocking him to the ground. All he could see as he looked up were laughing faces, pointing at him and mocking him for his inability to catch the ball. That is when he woke up the first time and saw only one hour had elapsed since he dozed off. It was 3 AM. Three more hours of tossing and turning in bed before they could go for breakfast.

The locker facilities at major league camp oozed the trappings of elegance when compared to the minor league facilities Kevin had grown used to. The last time he had been impressed with facilities this large is when he first walked into the Las Vegas casino Bellagio. The major league facilities had enough room inside for players to play a football game, with 45 inch high definition television screens hanging from each corner of the room. There were so many television sets a sports bar would be jealous of the bounty. Sitting in front of each locker were nice lazy boy swivel chairs with leather seats allowing you to spin around in circles, not the tiny stools in the minor league camp with the Oriole logo. There also seemed to be enough space inside the lockers you could hide an elephant. Kevin calculated he could hang up his uniform and still fit a refrigerator inside his locker. The nice thing about all that space is you didn’t have to smell the after shave of the player standing next to you.

They were led to the area of the locker room where the players called up from the minor league camp traditionally suit up. It was in the farthest back corners of the room, where the press had no reason to travel and the lighting was dim. Kevin wanted to arrive early so he wouldn’t have all these players see the awe struck look cemented on his face as he experienced the big leagues for the first time. They passed the buffet spread that would put the Eastern Buffet or any minor league spread to shame. No luncheon meats or left over hot dogs here. They were still filling the large table with food covered under the heat of metalized containers, enough food to feed a small village in Africa for days. A large bowl of fruit and sliced cantaloupe and pineapple were presented at the end of the table.

When they reached their lockers Kevin must have had that look on his face when he first saw Shu. Hanging in front of their lockers were bright orange uniform jerseys. It would have been better if they had their names on the back, but they only had the numbers. They had given Kevin the number 72. He would have preferred 22. Jason was given the number 18. The lower uniform number meant they had a future planned for him. Kevin was an afterthought. The number 18 would be Jason’s number throughout his minor and major league career until he requested a different number. Kevin had to be satisfied with whatever number they had available.

“Do you like?” said the attendant who had led them to their lockers. They were probably not the first group of minor leaguers he had led to a major league locker for the first time.

“Beautiful,” Kevin cooed.

“Cool,” Jason said as he felt the fabric on his jersey.

“Welcome to the major leagues,” With that statement the attendant left Kevin and Jason alone to ogle some more of their surroundings.

Kevin wondered if he got to keep the uniform as a souvenir once the game was over. He glanced over at a locker three down from his and there was the uniform for Troy Harper hanging up, neatly pressed, ready for action.

“Nervous?” Jason asked Kevin.

“A lot nervous. You?”

“Yep. I not think I be but you know this big time when you see this. I nevah see so much luxury.” He looked over at the buffet. “This must be how the heavens dine as they look down on earth.”

“I don’t know if I would go that far, but it is pretty impressive.”