As our communities "prospect writer", or one of them, it's hard not to think about what happened last night despite the Royals being on the biggest stage of them all. I want to keep this brief because it's hard for me to write about this.
I had the pleasure of seeing Oscar Taveras on a July night in Springfield back in 2012. I wasn't there to see solely him, as the Royals AA team plays in the Texas League and I was visiting a friend at Missouri State, but he was certainly one of the reasons I was at the park that night. On that night Oscar went 3-4 and I walked away in love with him. I had read about him and seen video of him, but never had the pleasure, and it truly was a pleasure, of seeing him in person. He's a spectacle to be sure. A bigger man than his 6'2" 200lbs profile implies. If any active player in baseball can wield a stick that Vladimir Guerrero would be proud of it would be Oscar Taveras. The swing was violent and at times you could have feared for your life when he took a hack, but he had an insanely innate ability to put the bat on the ball and when he did the violence was beautiful. He laced an absolute laser to center on a pitch that should have been rolled into the dirt. It didn't matter where the pitcher wanted to put the ball, Oscar was going to get his stick on it and when he does he makes hard contact.
Taveras was special and he will always be special. He grew up in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and as a kid practiced baseball with bottle caps thrown like a frisbee. His father used to pitch corn kernels at him. He used his trained eye and work ethic to go from the relatively small signing bonus of $145,000 to the best offensive prospect in baseball.
Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, & therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Last night Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend passed away. Oscar wasn't a Royals prospect and he of course played for our "enemies" across town, but he was a top prospect, an MLB player, and most importantly a person of this world. And like so many of people who get the great opportunity of life, it was taken from him too early for us to understand. I'm three years older than Oscar and I've done such a small amount of work, made such a smaller impact, and touched fewer people than he has in a shorter time. OT was one of my favorite players in baseball. This is a blow to everybody who loves baseball, both now and in the future. MLB has suffered a blow to a current fanbase and a future fanbase who will not get to see baseball in a Taveras filled world. It's premature to think of Taveras as a great hitter, or a Hall of Famer, but he was an exciting player and a hopeful vital part of this pastime we love too much.
This is an infinitely sad world we live in at times. Thousands of people die every hour, but to be candid, we don't know your uncle that passed away. That doesn't mean his death is less important than Oscars, but it does mean we have the chance to come together over Taveras' death. An opportunity not usually afforded upon the passing of a relative. In the end Oscar's death is another tally on the ledger of a painfully long list of humans that have left this world. Each death was marked the same but had a different impact.
All of our thoughts here at Royals Review absolutely go out to the Taveras family, the Arvelo family, the Cardinals organization, our sister site Viva El Birdos, and anyone who loves and enjoys baseball. This is the third time in a little more than a decade that the Cardinals fanbase has suffered through the death of a major leaguer.
This game is nothing in comparison to the delicacy of life, but we've all now lost a small part of what makes this game great.