All or Nothing
Well, this should be fun, back-to-back titanic baseball games tonight, a Hall of Famer is starting one of them, the crowds will be electric, awesome storylines are everywhere you look, this is, if you will pardon the expression, Why We Love Baseball.
Texas 9, Houston 2 (ALCS tied at 3-3)
Is there anything more human, more transparent, more understandable than Adolis García swinging for the fences every single time he comes to the plate? There are times, many times, in life when we watch an athlete do something, watch an entertainer do something, watch a neighbor do something and we think to ourselves, “What in the world was that person thinking?”
At age 22, Jose Adolis García, as he was then known, was named MVP of the Cuban League while playing for his hometown of Ciego de Avila. He briefly went to Japan to play and then he defected from Cuba and came to play in the United States. The St. Louis Cardinals signed him for $2.5 million and spoke glowingly of his power, his speed and, especially, his arm. What an arm.
What they worried about was summed up by Baseball America like so in 2018: “He has all the tools to start as long as he controls his aggressiveness.”
And a year later, that turned into this from BA: “He has plus raw power, is a plus runner, has a cannon arm from right field that is a borderline 80 tool, and is a plus defender in right field. What happens with Garcia is a poor approach. He’s a wild swinger with little plate discipline, resulting in gobs of strikeouts.”
A year later, García was not even among the listed Cardinals prospects. This is because the Cardinals had given up on him, selling him off to the Rangers for the dreaded “cash considerations.”
Well, the Rangers didn’t have anything to lose. In 2021, they put him in the outfield every day — most often in centerfield — and they watched the scouting report come to life. Garcia hit 31 home runs. He stole 16 bases. He played a terrific outfield and unleashed that cannon arm for a league-leading 16 assists.
He also struck out 194 times, hardly walked and posted a .286 on-base percentage. He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year race — his close friend Randy Arozarena won the award (García is godfather to Arozanrena’s daughter) — but he was probably the most dynamic rookie in the game. He played with a passion that bordered on mania.
And while he has toned down the peaky elements of his game — he chases a little less, makes contact a little more, has pushed his on-base percentage into the high .320s — his game is his game. He mashed 39 home runs this year, struck out 175 times, ran the bases aggressively and threw out 11 baserunners foolish enough to test his bazooka arm.
On Sunday night he was the center of attention
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