Hello, baseball fans… Today is Opening Day!
And after a pandemic-shortened 2020 season (60 games), I’m celebrating the best player in professional baseball, Fernando Tatis Jr., shortstop for the San Diego Padres. That’s right, Mike Trout! There’s a new kid in town, and he’s nicknamed after a weather pattern.
Fernando “El Niño” Tatis Jr., son of the former Major League great Fernando Tatis, signed a 14-year $340 million dollar contract during the offseason—not bad for a 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic. Tatis Jr.’s contract is the third largest contract in Major League Baseball history, only behind the aforementioned Mike Trout’s 12-year $430 million contract, and the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts’s 12-year $365 million contract.
Last year, Tatis Jr. finished in fourth place for the National League MVP award with a .277 batting average, a .366 on base percentage and a .571 slugging percentage. He also had 50 runs scored (2nd), 17 home runs (2nd), 45 RBI’s (4th) and 11 stolen bases (4th) in only 224 at bats. Remember, all of this in just 60 games.
All these numbers and stats are great, but they don’t tell the whole story. Tatis Jr. is beloved by his teammates and fans alike. He plays the game with a fire, passion, swagger and pure joy that’s not often seen in professional sports, especially in baseball. His long blond dreads flowing underneath his helmet as he flies around the bases and his knee-high uniform pants make for a rare combination of old school and new school.
He doesn’t adhere to or abide by any of the “unwritten” rules in professional baseball either. You know the ones that say no showing emotion, no stealing bases with a big lead, no strutting around the bases after a big home run, no bat flips. Against the Texas Rangers, with his Padres up by seven runs, Tatis Jr. swung at a 3-0 pitch and hit a grand slam.
Oh well, fuck ’em. Throw better pitches. This is why fans pay $20 for flat beer and $10 for a cold hot dog, not because they taste good but for the entertainment, to be entertained—and “Are you not entertained?”
Fernando Tatis Jr. also does one more thing that a lot of Latinos in baseball can’t or won’t do: speak English in interviews. I understand for some it’s embarrassing, and not many of them are willing to take those chances and embarrass themselves. Thirty-two percent of Major League Baseball players are of Latino descent—for all you math majors, that’s one-third of all players—an enormous amount. These players must learn the language to be successful in the United States.
I’m sure a lot of you wokoso Latinx’rs will say, “No they don’t.” Yes, they do. So do you, your friends, and your familia.
Take it from an old-school Mexican-American (Chicano) dude whose grandfather came to this country during WW2 and the Bracero Program, who taught himself to read, write, and speak English, along with math, so that his grandson could say the words “wokoso Latinx’rs” in a sports article. My grandfather was and is the American Dream.
Honor those who came before you. Inspire those who will follow. Be great. Help people. Make a difference.