Coming up as a baseball player in the Dominican Republic, Yordano Ventura seemed to have a natural propensity for hurling a laced orb at mind-boggling speeds. With his slight frame and beguiling smile, young Yordano would stride to the mound, dig his right cleat into the dirt hugging the rubber, and feign a look of discomfort before offering his first pitch to his first batter. When he was still unknown as an prepubescent boy in Samana, he'd start his lead-off oppositional hitter off with his change-up, while appearing to exert his maximum effort, lulling that leadoff hitter into a false sense of security before dialing up his fastball that consistently blew his peers away. His opponent's eyes would involuntarily bulge as Ventura made sure to cut the lead-off man down at the knees, shaking his head in defeat as he walked back to the dugout and sending a message to his teammates with his defeated slouch--today would not be their day.
When Ventura came to the States as a Royals prospect, he initially focused all of his energies on the game of baseball. His arm was a gift--one he believed to have been given to him by God--but he used it simply to make for a better life for himself and his family. One could hardly begrudge him the simple goal of giving back to his mother, who sacrificed so much for young Yordano.
Of course, the scope of that goal was put into perspective one quiet Thursday afternoon in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, as he and a few of his instructional league teammates ventured out to grab a quick bite to eat. As they were driving to their dinner destination, they happened upon two vehicles on the roadside. One, a Chevy Silverado with a metallic tinged decal of the American flag on its tailgate; the other, a beat-up Toyota Previa that looked as though it had gotten to its present location after travelling through three days of unflinching sand storms. The Silverado was parked askew, its tail end hanging partially into the road, the truck completely blocking the Previa into the parking lot of a small taqueria. The doors of the Silverado were wide open, its occupants having vacated the cab with AR-15s and dressed in matching garb culled from the depths of an army surplus store no longer than a week ago. Beer cans littered the floor of the truck, a handful having spilled onto the roadside in the occupants' absense.
The three drunk minutemen held the AR-15s across their chest, right index fingers in a holding pattern, waiting for their cue. One stood just a few feet from the driver's side, shouting at the occupants of the Previa to step out from the vehicle, papers in hand.
The family in the Previa sat in place in the minivan, noticeably trembling.
Ventura and his teammates watched in horror, as the minuteman nearest the driver went to open the door and proceeded to pull the driver from his vehicle.
Time began to slow down for Yordano. It dawned on him that the minutemen--their awareness compromised by their state of inebriation--were unaware of the onlookers. In an instant, Yordano's instincts kicked in.
Harnessing his gift, he leaped forth from the car, armed solely with what got him to Arizona in the first place.
He unleashed a three-pronged barrage, one baseball for each of the drunk minutemen, one white ball with red laces for each racist. Upon impact, each of the men fell to the earth. Not only unconscious, but dead on impact. Their skulls were no match for Yordano's special talent.
The family--American citizens, the lot of them, but the darker tones of their skin having been questionable enough in the minds of the unholy triumvirate of minutemen felled around them--in the Previa sat awestruck, wondering where this strange, slight man had appeared from and if the whole episode had been an hallucination, a mirage. After a few silent moments, the father stepped forth from the Previa, took Yordano's right hand, and simply uttered, "Dios mio."
Having heard whispers in camp, he called He Who Shall Not Be Named, a man familiar with disposing of bodies, and the minutemen's dumb corpses were hauled off in mere minutes with not a soul on Earth to miss them.
On that fateful afternoon, Yordano Ventura realized one thing: he had a higher calling. Carrying with him the only arsenal he needs, he travels with his baseball team and strikes down racism at every turn.
Tonight, his neverending quest to thwart racism reaches the big stage.
In Kauffman Stadium this evening, the Royals will face their divisional rivals, a team that stands for everything Yordano Ventura despises: The Cleveland Racists.
This is going to be a WAR.