Batting first, the Wall Street Journal tells how Jeurys Familia came to baseball:
He loved everything about the game—how fast it moved, how close he could get to the court when he watched older kids play. Now 6-foot-3, he was always tall for his age, so he played center. But he was an outside shooter, too. He idolized Kobe Bryant.
The logic of switching to baseball was easy for him to understand: Professional basketball teams do not search for talent in the Dominican Republic. Major League Baseball has built a virtual pipeline there. But that didn’t make the transition any easier.
When Familia joined a youth baseball program, he learned two things about the game. The first was that, unlike basketball, it required spending hours under the Caribbean sun. “When I had to run outside, I said, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to die,'” he said.
– Brian Costa, “Once in the Paint, now Painting Corners”
The Wall Street Journal
I almost miss the WSJ referring to professional athletes as “Mr. Familia” and such, but I’m glad they dropped that however long ago. Mr. Costa, by the way, is in mid-season form already. With the above and last week’s piece about Mets players’ side jobs, he’s written the two best pieces of the Spring so far.
Surprise, surprise: There’s worry that the Marlins home run . . . thing . . . may be distracting to batters:
The Marlins say the wacky sculpture is positioned in a spot — just to the left of the batter’s eye — where it won’t be a factor. “No issue whatsoever,” David Samson said Sunday. Samson said MLB officials thoroughly checked out the new ballpark on Thursday to make sure it conformed to standards, standing on the mound, checking out all the angles, and so forth.
And even the players say they don’t know for sure whether or not the sculpture could be a potential hitting hazard. After all, they’ve yet to play there. But catcher John Buck said he took a practice squat behind home plate several days ago and thought maybe — just maybe — it might be an issue. And Logan Morrison, a left-handed hitter, stood in the batter’s box to see if he could tell. He couldn’t say for certain.
– Clark Spencer, “Steve Cishek hopes home run structure benefits him”
The Miami Herald
Seriously, this thing needs a name. The Mets had the Apple, the Brewers have the slide, but no one yet knows what to call that home run thing the Marlins have built in center field. It’s talked about as if it were some grotesque, ineffable monster from a 1950s movie, “The Blob” or “The Swamp Thing,” something like that. It’s the perfect representation of the Marlins: ostentatious, expensive, unnecessary, tasteless, and potentially awesome but probably just annoying.
And with that, I believe my distaste for the Marlins has already surpassed that for the Phillies.