The Importance of Dominican Baseball and Other Bullets

dominican flagThis whole Lance Armstrong Oprah interview, complete with a reported confession of doping (isn’t it funny how we naturally use “doping” for sports like cycling, and “juicing” for sports like baseball? There really isn’t a euphemism in football, because nobody seems to care about it there), is pretty ill-time for baseball, don’t you think? With the ugly Hall of Fame vote now in the past, I’d imagine MLB wanted to get past this discussion as quickly as possible. But with Lance taking the headlines back for using PEDs in the late-90s and early 2000s, baseball will be attached, for obvious reasons. (The best Armstrong article to read today, by the way, is this one.)

  • A Chicago Tribune travel piece about heading to the Dominican Republic to watch baseball, featuring Junior Lake prominently. It includes a pretty great description of the Dominican Winter League, and what it’s like to play baseball in the DR. A sample, on why the DR has been such a hotbed for future MLB talent: “The answer unfolded as we drove through the small town buzzing with commerce — pharmacies, fruit stands and cellphone stores — and young men on smoky mopeds. At its edge, San Pedro pays homage to its greatest export artistically: tall wire statues of a pitcher, catcher and batter. Minutes later we passed the living version of the same scene: three 8- to 9-year-old boys on a rubble-strewn lot where a rusty paint-can lid served as home plate. We stopped for a closer look. When the catcher decided to play outfield, I took over behind the plate — that is, the rusty paint-can lid — for a few minutes, dutifully returning the ball to a small, thin pitcher. But then the huskiest of the boys cracked a pitch beyond a neighboring fence, far enough that after a brief, fruitless search, the boys deemed the ball gone. Fortunately, a tennis ball sat in reserve. Game on.” It’s a great read, and a reminder why the Cubs are devoting such a healthy chunk of time and money to developing a state of the art facility in the DR.
  • Bruce Miles on the approach of Spring Training, and the Cubs Convention.
  • I mentioned the Cubs signing pitcher Dayan Diaz a little while ago, and remarked that he actually had the look of an interesting prospect, rather than your typical minor league signing this time of  year. Well, in his most recent mailbag, Baseball America’s Jim Callis dropped this: “I asked Matt [Eddy] if he had any particular favorites among the remaining [minor league] free-agent crop. He didn’t, though he did admit to being intrigued by righthander Dayan Diaz. He’s just 5-foot-10 and has a ton of effort in his delivery, but he does have a 93-98 mph fastball.” Obviously Matt and Jim were a little behind on the signing, but the point is: Diaz was probably the most notable minor league free agent available at this point. And I like that description of him, too.
  • Ever wonder what all these PED might do to a regular Joe? Well, here’s a guy who wanted to figure out just that, so he tried it, himself. The results are pretty surprising (and scary). (h/t to BN’er Greg)
  • Mark Grace speaks about being let go by the Diamondbacks from their broadcast booth (a spot taken by Bob Brenly), and about trying to get back on track.
  • More on the Cubs and Colin Kaepernick.
  • Sammy Sosa, in the full swing of a social media blitz, shared a video with his many followers yesterday. It’s a package of a bunch of his home runs, and Tim over at Obstructed View did a nice job of breaking the video down, frame by frame. Here’s the video (and, no, it isn’t broken for those first 18 seconds of silence):

More social media craziness: Nyjer Morgan’s Twitter was … a little off last night. He says it was hacked, of course, and maybe it was. But, yeah … it was crazy:

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

44 responses to “The Importance of Dominican Baseball and Other Bullets”

  1. cjdubbya

    Better living through chemistry? I mean, wouldn’t aspirin/ibuprofen be considered a performance-enhancing drug? I know that it enhances my performance greatly after a night of binge drinking…

  2. Rich

    ya drugs are funny. destroy your health with chemicals, then fix it with chemicals..

  3. Curt

    I read that article on Armstrong Brett, and I think it kind of reminds me if how mlb handled peds too it was convenient that as longvas Armstrong was helping us cycling they turned the other way, same with mlb but when lance got caught then they went after him. I mean you can produce a 1,000 page report but you couldn’t catch him while he was doing it, I saw the Oprah interview she was very soft on him. Hope he saved some money everyone will be suing him now .

    1. cjdubbya

      It’s a cat-and-mouse game though with testing. New formulas for the same basic benefits (go harder, stronger, faster at the gym, then a quicker recovery time), but the tests are a step behind. Lance wasn’t caught because he and his suppliers were ahead of the curve. Just amazes me that many fans sit in awe of the tape measure blasts, but then are so shocked when the men hitting those balls get busted for PEDs.

  4. Roughrider

    The description of the kids playing in the DR reminds me of when I was a kid. We played with a baseball until the cover came off and then we would tape it up with electrical tape. If a bat was cracked we would tape it up and sometimes put a a nail or screw in it to keep it together. We played anywhere we could up to and including the street. As long as there were at least two guys we would figure out some way to play baseball. You don’t see that in the US anymore. At least I don’t.

    1. yield51

      I was fortunate to grow up in a secluded neighborhood with 7 or 8 boys my age. We had access to a decent size lot that was used year round for baseball/soccer/football. My mom still lives in the neighborhood, and there are still many young boys and girls in the neighborhood, but the lot is lifeless. I don’t really know what is to blame for kids lack of interest in outdoor activities. I’m only 32, so we still had NES, SNES, Genesis, etc.. when I was young, so I don’t think video games are the main reason that kids don’t play anymore. I do know that if I sat my ass in front of Nintendo for too long, that my dad would make sure I couldn’t sit down for a while.

    2. Spriggs

      Yeah, it sucks — parents understandibly can’t just let their kids out for the day anymore. We had big power lines (NIPSCO – Northern Indian Power…) across the street from my house and kids would come for blocks every day to play on the field they allowed us to carve out. We played all day – up until supper time. I hated it when parents would come after their kids to make them go home to eat!

  5. Roughrider

    We treasured a new ball.

    1. cub2014

      great story on DR baseball, I grew up in rural indiana we had a baseball game at my house
      almost every summer day. me and a buddy made bases out of plywood built a small pitching mound and had a short left field fence (a home run went into the cow pasture)
      We had 8-10 kids playing, some road their bikes 5 miles to play. Of course there were
      no video games in the late 60′s. Oh wait pong from atari was just coming out.

      1. Spriggs

        For our bases, we dug holes and put a cinder block in, making it flush with the ground. Our pitchers mound was a failure, but it served it’s purpose.

        1. TWC

          … and we were barefoot, in the snow! And we had to run uphill all the way around the diamond!

          1. Roughrider

            Now I know what TWC stands for The WiseCracker.

  6. ichabod

    lookng at yesterdays post on the former players attending the cc. ya think zambrano will ever be asked to attend one of these. d. lee? a ram? after retirement?

    1. MichiganGoat

      Zambrano NO he really burned that bridge, DLee and ARam wouldn’t surprise me one day.

      1. Spriggs

        Agree on D Lee and Z, but I would be real surprised if Ramirez would ever be a part of it.

  7. Curt

    Ok ill agree myb lance was ahead of the curve on cheating but they had to have known it was going on but my point is as long as Armstrong was winning tours they looked the other way , and as long Sosa and McGwire were helping mlb bud and others looked the other way. Hey this off topic did anyone see Pete rises reality show omg how the mighty have sunk so low , it’s kinda sad to see.

  8. CubFan Paul

    wow at that guy slimming down to 230 from 300plus. good job. I like that his supplement has beta alanine, that’s what I take in the powder from *workout energy/stamina for days*

    its cheapest in its powder form at Vitamin Shoppe for you Ordinary Joes who want workout help/energy/stamina. Check it out, im glad i did.

    http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/store/en/browse/sku_detail.jsp?id=XA-1109

    1. MichiganGoat

      I think everyone will have more success taking this supplement:

      http://m.vitaminshoppe.com/store/en/browse/sku_detail.jsp?id=XA-1061

      Horny Goat Weed for all ;)

      1. DarthHater

        Brett,

        You really need to stop these goats from spamming the site with promotions for boner pills…

        1. CubFan Paul

          LOL. I sent that link along with some research to a friend’s wife so that she can buy that for him. She’s been ‘complaining’.

        2. MichiganGoat

          The world needs to hear the truth
          l_xa-1061.png

          1. NigerianGoat

            I am the only kid of a pair of Nigerian dwarf goats formerly owned by a wealthy cocoa merchant in Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast. My mother and father were assassinated in brutal experiments conducted by CIA agents, who stared at them until they dropped dead. Before his death, my father called me to his stall and told me that he has a sum of $12,500,000 left in a suspense account in a local bank here in Abidjan. I now need your assistance in transferring this money out of the country for investment purposes . . .

            1. MichiganGoat

              You too, us goats have so much tragedy in our lives. ;)

  9. Jose Perez

    Hey its nice to find people around the world that like our DWL BASEBALL , and its always better when cubs fans watch it too. Ive been a cubs since 1996 , just because every little kid grew up watching Sammy Sosa, he was idol , and to be honest i didn’t know anything about Chicago Cubs before Sammy , but all the kids from my ” street ” tried to be just like him, we even made hats with Cubs symbol, we used the ” Kiss to the Heaven ” every time we hit a HR.
    And Chicago Cubs still one of the favorites teams here.

    Junior Lake:
    Here a lot of people talking about him, they said that he is a potential everyday player, that he should be an OF , i heard that he has Cannon Arm, one of the best in Cubs system and still ” best arm ” in DWL . And there was an article in a newspaper saying that he is the most underrated prospect in cubs system.
    Yes he’s FAMOUS , maybe you dont hear about him a lot in US , but they were talking about him everyday , Im saying radios ,TV and newspaper.

    I saw that kid playing 3B,SS and unusual move by Estrellas Orientales manager to move him to 2B, at the end just becuase Miguel Angel Sano was playing 3B , Junior Lake played LF – CF.
    The kid play with heart , passion and hes competitive. As a cubs fan im just waiting the day the cubs called him up. I dont see him playing at INF with Baez and Castro there, but he should be an OF.

    He ended his time here, i dont know why but hes not longer playing in DWL.
    Starlin Castro will play at DWL FINALS , so cubs fans stay tuned , he will play with Escogido Baseball. I saw him wearing the Escogido uniform, taking batting practice, last Sunday.

    LOVE FROM LA BELLA REPUBLICA DOMINICANA,
    VAMOS CUBS VAMOS :)

    1. Jose Perez

      Hopefully you guys visited us here, its not only baseball , but we have the most beautiful beaches and rivers. All Mlb team have their minor league academy,you can go there and watch their prospect , talk to them , interview them, everything. Maybe you could find the next Starlin Castro there.

      *Sorry for my English

    2. CubFan Paul

      nice read Jose.

      and confirmation on Castro.

      1. Jose Perez

        hey paul thanks , one more thing :
        DWL FINALS STARTS NEXT WEEK, so theres time Castro could go there “cubs convention” and then play in the FINALS.
        Escogido are almost clinching their spot, they are in 1st place.
        im thinking he will go to cubs convention for two reason: convince Theo and Hoyer to let him play at WBC and DWL Finals, and the commitment he has with cubs org as their franchise player

  10. Dr Rich

    Yes take that crappy supplement for energy…
    …or you could exercise and eat right..with plenty of sleep.

    it is amazing what people do to their bodies. So many treat their dogs better.

    Want to have some fun, get up real early and sit at your local gas station and watch how people start the day…

    coffee, cigarettes, soda, Redbull, donuts and other crap…

    funny, no sad!

    1. MichiganGoat

      Wait so smokes, coffee, and red bull is bad for you? What if I replace redbull with a great Michigan IPA?

    2. DarthHater

      Early to bed, early to rise, healthy breakfast, then spend the morning breathing gasoline fumes. ;-)

    3. TWC

      Actually moderate intake of coffee has been shown to be rather good for you. That, of course, isn’t to say that not drinking coffee is bad for you.

      Nor is it to say that being self-righteous about others’ coffee intake doesn’t give oneself the same perk that a cup of joe might.

      1. MichiganGoat

        And a pint of quality craft beer a day keeps the doctor away

        1. hansman1982

          Thank goodness Natty Ice is craft beer there…

          1. JBarnes

            Whoa…what’s wrong with Natty Ice?

    4. CubFan Paul

      I do exercise and eat right and get plenty of sleep “Dr” Rich. So sad that you missed the point.

  11. Mick

    This definitely makes me think of the baseball academy the Cubs built in the DR. Some said what was the point with the new international signing restrictions but this could actually turn out to be a coup for the Cubs. The academy brings together the best young players in the DR and across the Caribbean for the Cubs to solely scout. It also builds a relationship with the region that makes the Cubs the hometown team hopefully everyone wants to play for. If you want lobsters go to Maine, if you want ballplayers, go to the DR.

  12. Paul Popovich rules!

    Growing up, we too played in a vacant lot; doubleheader everyday during the summer. We kept stats too, the best hitter (who went on to play Phillies’ low A ball) had about175 homers for the season. But alas, the city took over the lot and built a beautiful park. First rule was “no walking on the grass”, so no more baseball…

  13. Caleb

    That was *not* the best lance Armstrong writeup out there. Yahoo, Brett? Yahoo?

  14. Bren

    Interesting read, do they still sell that stuff?

  15. fromthemitten

    Brett I’m surprised you didn’t cover the twitter feud between love_that_goku and Brandon McCarthy. COMIC GOLD

    1. MichiganGoat

      Yeah that was very strange

  16. Muck

    I hate Nyjer with a passion. Dumbass …