This last, heavy snowfall sealed the deal for me. It is officially time for baseball season. Whether you’re a fan of the Yankees, the Red Sox, or the Mets...or whether you’re like me, rooting for a hometown team that’s far away...from here and the playoffs (Go Pirates!) it’s time for our annual baseball show.
Later on, we'll try to view baseball as a road to God. New York University President John Sexton takes us inside the theological take on the national pastime. He wrote a book that came out of a course he teaches of the same name called Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game.
We’ll also visit with AJ Pollock, a local ballplayer who graduated from RHAM High School in Hebron, Connecticut. He was a first-round draft pick in 2009 by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Last year, he made his Major League debut and this year, he's been labeled the "probable" starting centerfielder for the D-Backs after Adam Eaton sprained his elbow.
We talked with AJ about an old friend of his, Tyler Cormier. They were in the Special Olympics and Unified Sports teams together. Tyler died in 2007 and we talk about his legacy and impact on the community.
But first - The Dominican Republic is a baseball power. Witness the small country’s domination of this year’s World Baseball Classic. 20 percent of professional ballplayers in the US come from the Domician and the reasons for that go beyond the passion for the game.
Jon Paley traces it to a player development system that grooms very young ballplayers to be ready to sign contracts with major league teams as soon as they hit 16. It’s seen as a way out of poverty for the players and their families...but it’s a system that’s also touched by the same kinds of greed and dirty dealing that always seems present when young athletes are used to make a buck. Paley is one of the directors of the documentary Ballplayer: Pelotero.
It’s a film about the pipeline of baseball talent from the Dominican Republic to the United States. Among the players profiled is Miguel Sano...a power-hitting prospect in the Minnesota Twins system, who might just spend a part of his summer with their farm team in New Britain.