You could say Chicago Cubs reliever Manny Rodriguez had a mixed year, coupling significant developments down on the farm with a big league debut, but ultimately rough MLB results. But when you consider the lost 2020 season, the impressive individual pitches, and his background, it’s hard to call it anything but a great year overall.
Consider that not a single MLB player had come from the state of Yucatan in Mexico until Rodriguez made his debut. Rodriguez actually started his pro career at the highest level of pro ball in Mexico when he was just 17, and he’s been developing ever since. Now 25, Rodriguez has not only made it from Yucatan to the big leagues, he hasn’t forgotten where he came from:
RECOMPENSA A SU HÉROE 💚⚾️
— Leones de Yucatán (@leonesdeyucatan) October 25, 2021
That’s Rodriguez’s former team sharing that he bought his father a car, as a thanks for the years of support. Rodriguez’s dad supported his baseball efforts by driving a taxi. And now Rodriguez can help support right back. It’s pretty touching, and I’m getting a little emotional just thinking about it.
We will always tend to focus on the Cubs performance impact of players as they come up, and their projected future impact in the years ahead. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that focus, and 99 times out of 100, when Rodriguez comes up in the future, it’s going to be about whether his sinker/four-seamer balance is off, whether his slider isn’t playing against lefties, and whether he can locate well enough to make the triple digits really pop.
That said, it’s OK to get caught up in the story once in awhile, and think about how rare it is that Rodriguez has done what he’s done already, about how much it must mean to his family, and about how he now gets to give back to them.