Results tagged ‘ Omar Vizquel ’
Less than five months ago, infielder Carlos Sanchez was a 19-year-old gearing up for his first go-around in the Carolina League. Today, Sanchez, a year older and much more advanced as a baseball player, learned he has earned a promotion to Triple-A Charlotte for the first time.
Sanchez was on Winston-Salem’s opening day roster and thrived in the CL. In 92 games with the Dash, Sanchez hit .315 with 42 RBI and 58 runs scored. He still sits second to teammate Dan Black on this circuit in batting average.
One month ago yesterday, Sanchez jumped to Double-A Birmingham for the first time, and his 30 games in the Southern League could not have gone much better. The switch hitter hit .370 with 13 RBI and 17 runs scored for the Barons.
Between the CL and the SL, Sanchez hit .329, which is good for ninth among all minor league players who have appeared in at least 100 games thus far this season. In overall hits, Sanchez places fourth overall with 159, or 1.3 per game.
When Charlotte opens up a homestand with Pawtucket tomorrow night, Sanchez will suit up for the same franchise that his baseball hero, fellow Venezuelan Omar Vizquel, played for while with Cleveland in 1994. When Vizquel played a handful of games with Charlotte that year, Sanchez was two years old.
Incredibly, 18 years later, Sanchez is one step away from big league baseball, where Vizquel is still hanging around with a very legitimate Hall of Fame case. At 20 years old, Sanchez certainly has the chance to carve out quite a career, too. Today was a huge step in that process.
Note: The post below doesn’t involve the Dash. It does, however, have everything to do with baseball.
Baseball is a romantic sport, packed with highs and lows that permeate the most grueling season in all of modern day sport. Big league players suit up 162 times a year, while minor leaguers play 140 games with only a handful of day-long breaks.
When one plays or attends a baseball game, odds are that nothing magical will happen. After all, the season stretches for five or six months. Sometimes, though, our national pastime gives us a reason to come back again and again and again.
For me, that moment came 11 years ago today, and I’ve never forgotten it.
I was always a fan. I went to a no-hitter at the age of one (don’t remember that one), a World Series game at the age of five and an All-Star Game at the age of seven while growing up in Cleveland during the glory days of Indians baseball.
If you are reading this, you have probably been a fan for a long time, too. But for many baseball fans, there is that ONE moment when everything came together. For White Sox fans, that moment is most likely Game 4 of the 2005 World Series. You probably remember the date (October 26, 2005), the score (1-0) and the game-winning hit (Jermaine Dye’s eighth-inning single).
My moment was August 5, 2001. I had tickets to the Indians-Mariners game, which was on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. After a family emergency that day, it didn’t look like I would get to go, which, at that point, was completely understandable.
About 30 minutes before first pitch, my dad changed his mind. We went to the game hoping for a pick-us-up.
By the time we got there, the Mariners were well on their way to taking a 12-0 lead in the third. And this was the Mariners team that finished 116-46 and went to the ALCS. At that point in the season, they boasted a record of 80-30. They were really, really good.
Going into the bottom of the seventh, it was 14-2. As the probability chart shows near the middle of this page, things weren’t looking good for Chief Wahoo’s crew. We stuck around as the Sunday night, sold-out crowd dwindled and the likes of Eddie Taubensee, Wil Cordero and Russell Branyan replaced some of the Indians’ starters.
The Tribe plated three in the seventh to make it 14-5. In the eighth, the Indians scored four runs and had only one out. All the momentum went away, though, when a potential run was cut down at the plate, and Seattle took a 14-9 lead into the ninth.
During the top of the ninth, my dad pointed at the scoreboard. He said, in what had to be a showing of sarcasm, that the Indians wanted three in the seventh and four in the eighth in order to score five in the ninth.
After an emotional day at home and an ugly night of baseball, my dad said, “I have a feeling.”
Whether or not he truly believed it, I don’t know and I don’t care. He was incredibly correct.
With two out and a runner at first, four straight runners reached. Bases loaded. Two outs. 14-11 Seattle. Omar Vizquel (my favorite player growing up) was at the plate. On a 3-2 pitch, Vizquel laced a bases-clearing, game-tying triple down the right field line that still gives me goosebumps when I think about it.
Two innings later, in-game addition Jolbert Cabrera drove home the game-winning run for the Indians. Less than 10,000 people were still at Jacobs Field shortly after midnight when Kenny Lofton scored the historic run. To this day, I’ve never heard a crowd like that one. I’ve never attended a game like that one.
Every year, I relive the play-by-play calls of that magical night, which takes me back to a time, albeit a short one, when baseball was perfect.
Baseball is a game that must be approached with realism, humility and grit. Every team experiences peaks and valleys. Patience is key, and one streak (positive or negative) does not define a season.
But everyone who has watched this game enough has at least one of these experiences. Baseball keeps bringing us back because we all want to experience something better. Is that likely? Not exactly.
Neither was Chicago’s near-perfect run through the 2005 playoffs. Neither was a win for the Indians on that incredible night 11 years ago, either.
No matter what happens to our favorite teams, we’ll always have that one moment. And 11 years later, mine is still perfect.
This is more of a personal blog. These won’t happen often, but I’m a baseball guy. I love writing about baseball. This is why I love baseball.
Just a few hours from my first Opening Day with the Dash, this is a great chance to look back at how (and why) I am about to travel to Zebulon, N.C. Many times, your current standing in life stems from your past.
My story begins in 1955, the year after the Cleveland Indians lost in the World Series. You see, 1955 began a streak of 40 straight seasons without playoff baseball in Cleveland. These 40 seasons were rough. The Tribe was the laughingstock of baseball.
Even when things were supposedly turning around, the Indians would crash and burn. Sports Illustrated boldly stated that the Indians were the American League’s best team in 1987. Cleveland won 61 games that season.
Somehow, someway, my Dad, who moved to Cleveland in the 1960s, continued to support Chief Wahoo’s crew. In 1994, the Indians finally showed a great deal of promise with a young core of mashers in their lineup. Fittingly, the 1994 season ended in a strike with Cleveland very much in the playoff hunt for the first time in a while.
I was born in 1989, but my earliest childhood memories come from 1995. Many of those memories involve the Indians. This magical team went 100-44 in a strike-shortened campaign. The Indians were so good that transcendent sluggers Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez were in the bottom portion of the lineup.
My summer revolved around the Tribe. I would watch or listen to every game, and I wrote down the score and the relevant stats from each game I attended on a yellow pad of paper I tucked inside my nightstand. At the age of five, baseball was my life.
My Dad fueled my love for the game. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the type of season that must have been unfathomable during the first 30-plus years of his Indians fandom. It was perfect timing, because his dream season collided with my one of impressionable years. He hung with the formerly hapless Indians long enough to partake in one of the greatest seasons in Cleveland sports history, and he did me the ultimate favor.
He made me a baseball fan.
Albert Belle. Eddie Murray. The aforementioned Thome and Ramirez. The 1995 Cleveland Indians were loaded with big boppers. The one offensive starter on the squad who was a little different was Omar Vizquel. The Venezuela native debuted in the big leagues seven months before I was born—April of 1989—and never hit for power. In fact, Vizquel had his “power breakout” in 1995. He hit six long balls after just seven homers in his first six seasons.
Vizquel was a table setter. He tended to be the one coming around to score when Belle, Murray and the gang did the heavy lifting. Plus, Vizquel was a wizard with the glove. While Ozzie Smith seems to have the public’s vote for baseball’s best defensive shortstop, Vizquel was better statistically. Much better. Like, .985-to-.978-fielding-percentage better.
As the years passed and the faces of baseball in the 1990s left Cleveland, many of whom did so in a less-than-favorable way, Vizquel handled things as smoothly as he would a ground ball. He became my favorite link to the contending teams I was blessed to support during my childhood.
Following the 2004 season, the Indians’ front office decided to move on with highly-touted prospect Jhonny Peralta. At the age of 36, Vizquel said goodbye to the Tribe.
Over the last 24 hours, everything from this tale seemed to intersect. Yesterday, at the age of 44, “Little O” suited up for the Toronto Blue Jays in the team’s season opener. This season, the Jays happened to kick off their 162-game journey in Cleveland. Vizquel, who fought in spring training for one of the Blue Jays’ final roster spots, received a standing ovation from a sold out Progressive Field.
One of those Indians fans in attendance yesterday was my Dad. He cheered for Vizquel, just as he used to do in the 1990s when his loyalty to a team was rewarded.
My Dad and I attended many Opening Day games when I lived in Ohio. Indians baseball was our strongest bond, and Opening Day was the strongest reminder.
Sure, Opening Day has a different meaning to me in 2012. Here I am with the Winston-Salem Dash, an affiliate of another American League Central organization. It is fitting, though, that my first Opening Day as a lead voice is in Zebulon, where the Carolina Mudcats debut as an Indians affiliate.
Baseball is a wonderful game, and what an incredible year 2012 could be. Omar Vizquel is still flashing his Gold Glove defense. My Dad is gearing up for another season of Indians baseball.
Here’s hoping I last in this game as long as Omar has while maintaining my Dad’s passion.
Thanks for everything, Dad, Omar and baseball. Thanks for the past, and thanks for the future.
It was discussed as a David-Goliath matchup. We even asked for a “March Madness” miracle. Our good buddy Bolt had to go up against Wilbur from the University of Arizona in a voting contest created by a Tucson-based radio station.
It certainly seemed like Bolt was in for a challenge, and the results were very much convincing.
But Bolt, the perceived “David” to Wilbur’s “Goliath,” dominated. More importantly, Dash fans dominated.
While the final tally is unavailable, Bolt was consistently around 80-90 percent of the vote. It was a convincing victory, and another one will be needed next Tuesday. Bolt must unseat the defending champion, the Gorlok from Webster University.
I don’t know what a Gorlok is (you can see it on the right), and I don’t know much about Webster University. But their fan base brought it last year, and the matchup will once again be a difficult one for Bolt.
Thanks, Dash fans. Bolt is very grateful. As a result, he is out delivering season tickets to some Dash fans. We will follow along with him and post some pictures here, so stay tuned!
Now, onto some Wednesday Dots.
- More signs that baseball is (almost) back: we received the head shots for all White Sox minor leaguers yesterday. Also, I spoke with new Dash manager Tommy Thompson today, and he is excited that the Dash have started playing spring training games.
- While big league spring training games are played in front of thousands of fans in Arizona or Florida, the minor league exhibitions are a little less glamorous. My good friend Aaron Goldsmith, the play-by-play voice of the Pawtucket Red Sox, is down in Ft. Myers, and he took some pictures of the minor league fields. It isn’t all glamour for the MiLB group, that’s for sure.
- A 2010 Dash alum is making a statement this spring. Eduardo Escobar has made quite an impression on White Sox brass, that according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Escobar has many things working for him, including his solid defense, his ability to play three positions (second, short and third) and his switch-hitting.
- Escobar played in Triple-A Charlotte last season and hit .266 in 137 games. He doesn’t have a lot of power (.351 slugging percentage in 579 minor league games), but the Venezuela native is a career .270 hitter in the minors. Escobar did get a brief cup of coffee in the big leagues, and he went 2-for-7 in nine games last year.
- One of my favorite players of all time, former White Sox infielder Omar Vizquel, is the focus of this brief piece on 40+ year olds in MLB. Vizquel, along with Jamie Moyer, are the only two men who are in the big leagues who played in the 1980s. Omar, who in my opinion is definitely a future Hall of Famer, has had an incredible career. See for yourself in his career stats.
We’ll have some pictures from Bolt’s season ticket delivery later today. Thanks for reading!