From On Top of the World to the Phantom DL: The Cruel Realities of Professional Baseball

– The K Zone –

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September 11, 2018

From On Top of the World to the Phantom DL: The Cruel Realities of Professional Baseball by Mojo Hill

“When people lie to your face over and over you start becoming a person that you never wanted to be.”

It hasn’t been the easiest journey for former top Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini.

Garin grew up around baseball for as long as he could remember. His parents Glenn and Raissa were and still are coaches at Barbe High School in Lousiana, so Garin and his younger brother Gavin, who is about two and half years younger than him, have naturally been baseball players for essentially their entire lives.

Garin and Gavin grew up playing baseball together and being coached by their parents. They were always a baseball family, and Glenn especially has been described as a “baseball rat,” so Garin and Gavin grew up the same way. Baseball meant everything to the Cecchinis. Gavin even pitched in the 2006 Little League World Series, as you can see starting at 1:41 in the video below, along with Raissa Cecchini being interviewed while watching her son.

Gavin and Garin both went to Barbe High SchooL, and they both thrived there, setting school records in several offensive categories. Garin hit .402 his junior season at Barbe, while Gavin hit .413 as a senior. Shortstop was the primary position for both.

The summer of his senior year, Garin went on to help lead Team USA to a gold medal in an under-18 tournament. His strong performance led to him being drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Boston Red Sox, where he was expected to develop as a third baseman.

Garin’s career got off to a very promising start in the minor leagues. He didn’t have a ton of home run power, but he hit for average and got on base while still collecting a good amount of extra-base hits. His first three seasons in the minors, 2011-2013, he hit for an .898, .827, and .915 OPS, respectively. His strong play, especially his .350/.469/.547 line in High-A in 2013, earned him a ranking as the Red Sox #3 prospect by Baseball Prospectus after the 2013 season, as well as the #74 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America. He was ranked just behind current Major Leaguers Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., and ahead of current superstar Mookie Betts, who was ranked 8th at the time. There were some mild questions about his game power and defense at third, but he was seen as a future Major League regular, someone the Red Sox could build around and man at the hot corner for years to come.

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But in 2014, Cecchini took a small step back that eventually led into his quick plummet into obscurity. He spent most of the year in Triple-A Pawtucket, posting much more pedestrian numbers with a .263/.341/.371 line. It was still enough to earn him a promotion to the Red Sox at the end of the year, where he performed solidly in a small sample size, hitting .258/.361/.452 in 36 plate appearances. Despite the down season in the minors, he appeared to be on a track to becoming the the Red Sox’ starting third baseman.

But on November 25, 2014, the Red Sox made two big signings, guaranteeing $95 million to third baseman Pablo Sandoval, and $88 million to first baseman Hanley Ramirez. While at the time these two were considered the best position players on the free agent market, it was nonetheless a controversial decision as it seemingly blocked Cecchini from having a role with the 2015 Red Sox.

So, rather than starting 2015 as the Red Sox’ starting third baseman, Cecchini went back down to Pawtucket, which is when his fall off the face of the earth truly began. His offensive numbers fell off a cliff as he put up a miserable .213/.286/.296 slash line. It was really a terrible year for Cecchini. At a time when he was trying to prove he belonged in the Majors, he got worse in every possible offensive category. He started striking out more and not walking nearly as much. He also hit for a much worse average, and any power he had virtually disappeared. There wasn’t a single silver lining to focus on during this absolutely dreadful season – quite disappointing to see from a prospect who had looked so promising. The Red Sox gave him a brief chance at the very end of the year in the Majors, but he only played in two games and went 0-4 with three strikeouts.

Little did he know that that would be the last time he’d ever step on a Major League field.

On December 4, 2015, the Red Sox signed David Price for seven years and $217 million, and as the corresponding move, they designated Garin Cecchini for assignment. In just a year’s time, Cecchini had fallen from a top-100 prospect to a minor league free agent.

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From there, Garin signed a minor league deal with the Brewers, playing the entire season in Triple-A before being designated for assignment again in October. He then signed a minor league deal with the Royals, and got limited playing time for their Triple-A team. He never got a Major League call-up in 2016 or 2017.

He rebounded somewhat, with a .705 OPS for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox and a .690 OPS for the Omaha Storm Chasers, but he was never the Garin Cecchini from 2011-2013 again. After the 2017 season, he played in a winter ball league where he hit .288/.324/.409. After that, he didn’t get a contract offer from any team, so he decided to hang ’em up for good.

It was a sudden, quick, and tragic downfall for a guy who was once such a promising prospect. Disappointing and underwhelming prospects are not too rare of a thing in baseball, considering the nature of the game and how ruthlessly difficult it is. But we rarely see or hear what is actually going on inside the minds of these players as they succeed, struggle, or both. After all, these are still human beings with emotions, feelings, and day-to-day inconsistencies; they are not just a bunch of baseball-playing robots.

Last month, Kevin Wilson and Joe Ferraro for KWB Radio recorded an episode of their podcast in which they sat down with Garin and asked him to open up about going through this abnormal and frustrating baseball journey. The full podcast can be listened to here on mobile and here on desktop.

It should not come as too much of a surprise that Garin Cecchini has always loved the game of baseball, from playing with his brother as a little kid, to being coached by his dad in high school, to being drafted by the Red Sox and playing professional baseball. His favorite player as a kid was Derek Jeter, and he actually got the chance to play in some of Jeter’s final games in 2014. However, now in 2018, Cecchini says he doesn’t miss the game and hasn’t picked up a bat since his last at-bat in the 2017 winter league. He once loved the game for its beauty and for fun, but after all the events that transpired that resulted in his retiring at the age of 27, he has now clearly lost that passion and drive that is required to succeed at the highest level.

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Gavin (left) and Garin Cecchini (right) as kids with their parents Glenn and Raissa

When Garin was drafted, he had the same emotions as any other player that gets drafted: Excited, nervous, and anxious to hit his way up to the Major Leagues. And when he got out on the field and immediately hit well during his first three seasons, it was like he was living a dream, a surreal fantasy that could not be described in words. Especially in 2014 when he got to play in Fenway Park against Derek Jeter and the Yankees in front of tens of thousands of people, he said he felt like he was “on top of the world.” He went on to say, “You’re on top of the world at that time, you know, you’re at the best place in baseball, you’re at the highest level, so it’s, you know, you kind of feel like you’re riding the wave, like a huge wave that just lasts forever.”

Through the 2014 season, Garin’s career had been what every little kid dreams about. He had been drafted by an MLB team, become a top prospect, hit well at every level and even gotten to play in the Majors against an MLB legend in Jeter along with the infamous New York Yankees. At the end of the season, the general manager of the Red Sox, Ben Cherington, sat down with Garin just to compliment him on what a great job he had done. He went on to tell Garin that he had done nothing but impress, coming up from the minor leagues and filling the third base spot and performing so well so quickly. He ended by assuring Garin that he had earned a chance to compete for a job on the 2015 team.

Hearing these words meant a lot to Garin. To have the general manager of your team tell you that you’ve done a great job and that they think you’re good enough to compete for a starting role is an extremely heartwarming and reassuring message to hear for any player, especially for a mostly unproven one like Garin. Most importantly, Garin now felt like he could trust Cherington as well as the entire Red Sox organization.

But when they signed Sandoval and Ramirez to huge contracts, Garin’s heart deflated as he completely lost all that trust that had built up. To Garin, these signings made it seem like the organization didn’t have any faith in him, making these huge signings to fill his spot not only for the 2015 season, but for the foreseeable future. It was then that Garin felt completely betrayed. In the podcast, he goes on to explain how he came into 2015 Spring Training strong and prepared, and he hit well, but ended up getting cut anyway. He felt like the Red Sox said one thing and did another, and ultimately Garin felt like he was being lied to.

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Suddenly, Garin was back on the Pawtucket Red Sox after tasting what it was like to play in the show in huge stadiums and on national television. But instead of trying to persevere, he went back down with a bitter and negative attitude. He was trying too hard to duplicate his past success, and according to him, he became a bad teammate and didn’t treat people right by not listening to them and not wanting to get to know them. The frustration built up more and more after every bad game, after every 0-for, digging himself into a deeper and deeper hole every night, as evidenced by his abysmal .213/.286/.296 line.

“Why didn’t I do this right? Why am I doing this? I don’t feel this” is the basic thought process that would ramble through his head as his struggles continued. As the season went on, he was in a very bad place mentally.

Looking back on the experience, Garin definitely feels regrets for the way he acted and thought back in 2015. He hung on to the great compliments that they gave him at the end of 2014, but their actions in signing Sandoval and Ramirez didn’t match the things they said, in Garin’s mind. But ultimately, Garin insisted on pointing the cause of his struggles to his bad attitude towards his teammates. An example he used was that he wished he would have gone to get a beer with his teammates after the game instead of “practicing [his] swing in the mirror in room 211 in Scranton.” To this day, Garin firmly believes that if he had tried to get to know his teammates better, and if he had tried to understand where the Red Sox organization was coming from, then it would have positively affected his results and he would have started hitting more. He believes that the root of his struggles was his mindset and attitude, not so much the physical act of hitting.

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Red Sox legend David Ortiz gives Garin Cecchini some advice

The offseason after the 2015 season was a time for Garin to think and reflect on his struggles and sudden decline in the Red Sox farm system. He got married over the offseason, which was a nice thing to get his mind off of baseball, spend time with his loved ones and remember what’s truly important in life. He was scheduled to marry his wife Katie on December 5, 2015.

The night before, on the 4th of December, he got a call from the Red Sox telling him that he had been designated for assignment to make room for David Price.

It was a time of whirlwind emotions for Garin Cecchini. His baseball career, which had recently been on a rapid rise up, had suddenly hit a huge speed bump. However, his family and loved ones were there with him to support him through the difficult times.

Garin has emphasized the importance of his family through this whirlwind journey, stating that they’ve always been there for him at his highest points and his lowest points.

The night before the wedding, the Cecchini family sat around and had various relatives say a kind word or two to Garin about what he meant to them or how special he was. Gavin, who was on the rise in the Mets farm system after a breakout offensive campaign for Double-A Binghamton, gave Garin an extremely memorable little speech that Garin still remembers well to this day.

In it, Gavin apparently broke down crying, expressing how much his brother meant to him and had helped him along his journeys through both baseball and life. Gavin talked about how special Garin is to him and how he’s always looked up to him for as long as he could remember. Garin, at 25 years old, had never heard Gavin say these words to him before, and it meant everything to hear them. These words stuck with him forever as he formed an even closer connection with his brother who he was already close with. Nowadays, Garin says that his relationship with Gavin has never been better, and they still talk to each other on the phone every day.

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Garin (left) and Gavin (right) with parents Glenn and Raissa

After the roller coaster emotions of the 2015 season and offseason, Garin was not ready to give up on his baseball career. The Milwaukee Brewers were the first team to give him a second chance, signing him to a minor league contract as he hoped that a change of scenery could help spark a bounceback season.

“New year, new start,” said Cecchini at the time, courtesy of MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “New faces. New coaches. What a great opportunity for myself.”

He did make a considerable effort to be more positive in 2016, and he certainly improved from his terrible 2015. He had somewhat of a bounceback, but since he was no longer a top prospect and may not have had the same drive and passion that he once did, he never really was himself again.

He played the entire 2016 season as the regular third baseman for the Sky Sox, and hit a perfectly fine .271/.325/.380. But it wasn’t enough for a promotion.

DFA’ed after the season, Garin caught on with the Royals, and according to him, 2017 would be his most enjoyable season of professional baseball. This is despite the fact that he didn’t receive everyday playing time, hit a pedestrian .266/.296/.393, and never got a Major League callup.

Throughout his season with the Storm Chasers, he had multiple former teammates from the Sky Sox text him and tell him that the clubhouse wasn’t the same without him and that they missed him a lot. This is what meant the most to Garin; this connection with his teammates was bigger than baseball, and much more meaningful to him in the long-term.

Reflecting on the past, Garin admits that his 2016-2017 teammates have a much different perception of him than his 2015 teammates. His 2015 teammates likely remember him as the selfish guy who only cared about himself, would throw his equipment after messing up, and simply wasn’t grateful to put on a Paw Sox uniform every day. His 2017 teammates remember him as the exact opposite – a guy who cared about his teammates and was funny and kept things loose.

Garin’s tenure with the Royals organization may have looked weak on the stat sheet, but it turned out to be a life-changing experience. He absolutely loved the Royals organization, praising general manager Dayton Moore for being honest with him and always telling the truth.

But the main reason he loved his experience with the Storm Chasers so much is the positive change it had on him as a person. He started really being a helpful teammate and getting involved in their lives and struggles. He shares two stories in the podcast about two teammates who were struggling and wanted to quit, but Garin reassured them and told them that they were good and convinced them to keep playing. He also just talked about life and random topics for hours at a time to get to know them better and truly connect.

One was a pitcher who he did not name (although having done a bit of a research based on the information he did give, I have found pretty conclusive evidence that it was likely Luke Farrell). This pitcher had a terrible outing and wanted to quit, but Garin told him that he was great in the clubhouse, that he’s really good at limiting soft contact, that the homers he gave up were wind-blown, and that the hits were soft contact that found holes. He eventually convinced the guy to keep playing, and now he’s pitching in the big leagues. Garin may have saved this man’s career.

“I’m not a god, I’m not the best teammate ever, but I started to learn in ’17, you know, what success really meant,” Garin said of his experience. He learned not to care so much about the box score, but began to think of success as helping teammates and being there for them.

“I became peaceful on the phantom DL,” Garin continued, referencing the fact that he was no longer playing every day. The game didn’t mean much to him anymore, it was the people and the community that meant more to him than anything. At that point, the game was really just a platform for him to “talk people off the ledge.”

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Gavin, Raissa, and Garin in 2017

When he came back from Mexico playing winter-ball and nobody offered him a contract, Garin was not devastated or in tears. He decided he was at peace no longer playing the game he once loved and strove to be the best at.

The essential lesson that Garin learned through all this was to be grateful for everything you’ve gotten in your life. You should enjoy every day because you never know when it’s gonna end. He was happy with the way he ended his career, because people would remember him as Garin Cecchini, a great human being and teammate that they’re going to miss, not a selfish snob who only cared about himself.

Garin has spent the entire 2018 baseball season at home, spending time with his family and just enjoying family. Meanwhile, his brother Gavin has been going through some baseball struggles of his own. Once a first-round pick by the New York Mets in 2012, Gavin has seen his stock drop the past couple years due to under-performing in 2017 and missing most of the season due to injury in 2018. For now, Gavin has dropped out of the Mets’ future plans, but at the age of 24 along with a new, adjusted swing and stance, it is still a little early to drop the “bust” label on him. The 2019 season could be huge for Gavin, and could determine whether or not he falls down the same hole that his brother fell in.

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Gavin Cecchini celebrates after hitting his first (and so far only) career home run off Clayton Kershaw

The hardships and struggles the Cecchini brothers have had to deal with remind us just how hard baseball really is, and how unfathomably difficult it is to not only make it to the highest level, but to establish yourself and stay there. And it’s so much more than just physical difficulties; the mental aspect of the game can destroy you and affect you in a negative way, much like it did to Garin Cecchini, to the point where life took a priority over baseball. This is no fault to Garin, who showed tremendous strength and courage by choosing life over baseball, but just proof that he’s an actual human being and not just a baseball-playing robot like some casual fans tend to assume.

 

Sam Carlson: A Lot of Fun With the Mariners

-The K Zone-

September 10th 2018

Sam Carlson

Interview by Mike Duffy


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Photo Credit: The Seattle Times


Mike Duffy: What were some of your favorite parts about the Mariners Organization?

Sam Carlson: My favorite part about the Mariners Organization is the people. Everyone from the front office to the trainers to my teammates. Everybody is great and it is a lot of fun.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite Minor League team name?

Sam Carlson: Personally I think that we have one of the best minor league team names in the Modesto Nuts. It is just a funny name for a team that everyone gets a good laugh at.


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Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Sam Carlson: I have always wanted to play professional baseball since I was a kid but not until my senior year did I know that there was a realistic chance.


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Mike Duffy: What team were you the biggest fan of growing up?

Sam Carlson: My favorite team growing up was the Twins. I was born and raised in Minnesota so it was only right.


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Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite player growing up?

Sam Carlson: My favorite player growing up was Joe Mauer. Being a Twins fan I had always loved to watch him play.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite stadium?

Sam Carlson: My favorite big league stadium is probably Safeco Field because of the memories I have from there. I have only seen a few fields so it might change when I see more.


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Mike Duffy: What will you be doing this offseason?

Sam Carlson: I am currently doing TJ rehab while taking classes for school.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite baseball memory?

Sam Carlson: I honestly have so many unbelievable memories that I can’t pick one out. Maybe one day I’ll make a memory that really stands out more than the others.


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite book?

Sam Carlson: I don’t have a favorite book at the moment as I prefer podcasts over a book.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite movie?

Sam Carlson: One of my all time favorite movies is The Longest Yard.


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Photo Credit: USA Today

Mike Duffy: What is your favorite Tv show?

Sam Carlson: My favorite TV Show all time is Prison Break.


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Mike Duffy: Who is your favorite Musician?

Sam Carlson: The Weeknd.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Sam Carlson: I enjoy traveling and adventuring with my friends and family.


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Luis Curbelo Jr. : Born To Play

 

-The K Zone-

September 9th 2018

Luis Curbelo Jr.

Interview by Mike Duffy


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From Future Sox

Mike Duffy: What are some of your favorite parts about the Chicago White Sox Organization?

Luis Curbelo Jr. : Their tradition and their pinstripes pants are the best part.


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From Kim C

Mike Duffy: What are some differences of baseball in Puerto Rico that you have noticed from the U.S.? Are there any?

Luis Curbelo Jr. : There is a lot more competition in the US then Puerto Rico even though we play year around in Puerto Rico.


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Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Luis Curbelo Jr. : Since I was 3 years old I knew it, plus baseball runs in my blood. Since my grandpa and dad played baseball but not professional.


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Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite player growing up?

Luis Curbelo Jr. : Derek Jeter.


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Mike Duffy: What team were you the biggest fan of growing up?

Luis Curbelo Jr. : Boston Red Sox.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite stadium?

Luis Curbelo Jr. : Favorite big league stadium is Wriggley field.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite baseball memory?

Luis Curbelo Jr. : Going undefeated and winning the Cooperstown tournament when I was 12 yrs.


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Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Luis Curbelo Jr. : I go to the movie theater and watch a movie to clear my head.


 


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite book?

Luis Curbelo Jr. : Dustin Pedroia’s book.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite movie?

Luis Curbelo Jr. : 22 Jump Street.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite Tv show?

Luis Curbelo Jr. : Game of thrones


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Mike Duffy: Who is your favorite Musician and what’s your favorite song?

Luis Curbelo Jr. : Ozuna and favorite is One kiss by Calvin Harris


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Luis Curbelo Jr. : I like to hangout with friends or go workout


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Andruw Monasterio: Just Being Positive

-The K Zone-

September 1st 2018

Andruw Monasterio

Interview by Mike Duffy



Mike Duffy: What were some of your favorite parts about the Cubs Organization?

Andruw Monasterio: My Favorite Parts Of Chicago Cubs Organization, I think I liked everything about the  Cubs.


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Mike Duffy: What are you looking forward too in the Nationals Organization?

Andruw Monasterio: I have the same goal in my new organization Is make my dream come true become a Big Leaguer.


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Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Andruw Monasterio: Since I was a kid I think exactly when I was 14 years old. In Venezuela.  🇻🇪


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Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite player growing up?

Andruw Monasterio: My favorite player growing up was Omar vizquel and Miguel Cabrera now I Like a Lot Francisco Lindor.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite stadium?

Andruw Monasterio: Four Winds Field Belong to South Bend Cubs And Eugene Emeralds Stadium.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite baseball memory?

Andruw Monasterio: My favorite baseball memory was when my agent tell me Chicago Cubs gonna Sign me in 2014.


Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Andruw Monasterio: Just Being Positive everytime and said to myself tomorrow is another day The Bad Moments Make yourself just you need to have a strong mindset.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite movie?

Andruw Monasterio: My favorite movie I have a lot I like watch movies but I think Bad Boys & Fast And Furious.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite Tv show?

Andruw Monasterio: 100 Latinos Dijeron


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Andruw Monasterio: I love to listen to music, I listen to music 24/7.  I listen to hip hop, Salsa,  Bachata, Reggae, and a ton more.


Mike Duffy: Who is your favorite Musician?

Andruw Monasterio: I like Ozuna, Drake, Maroon 5, Future, Daddy Yankee, Arcángel Romeo Santos, Hector Lavoe, Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and many more.


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America’s Pastime

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An Investigation into the correlation between the changes in culture  and the way baseball is has changed as a result

 

By Jack Kennedy

 

Introduction

 

Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball…” a quote by Jacquez Barzun that may be truer than initially perceived. Throughout American history different events such as the Great Depression and the Cold War have influenced our state of mind to dictate nearly every aspect of our lives, so if one were curious as to the state of America as a whole they merely need to look at the state of baseball because I believe it will accurately reflect how Americans are currently reflecting their society. I have loved following baseball my entire life as well as the culture of America. I have always believed that a tie between the two existed, and I dedicated extensive research to prove that it does. Baseball has changed dramatically from the day of its induction to today and those changes are directly related to the changes our culture has experienced. To demonstrate the difference between American culture and the way baseball is played the is the aim of my investigation.

 

Research Question:

To What Extent Does the Changing Culture of America Reflect Itself In the Way Baseball is Played?

This investigation will examine baseball stats and trends throughout different decades and attempt to show a correlation and causation between these stats and the external socioeconomic factors.

 

Anthropological Theories Utilized:

 

This investigation heavily relies on Functional Theory (Bronislaw Malinowski) which was later expanded upon by Marvin Harris in his Theory of Cultural Mechanisms.

 

Functional Theory:

“Every belief, action, or relationship in a culture functions to meet the need of every individual.” (Malinowski Collected Works: Volume IX)

 

The Theory Of Cultural Mechanisms:

 

“Materials or conditions within the environment (climate, food, supply, and geography) influence how a culture develops, creating the ideas and ideology of a culture.” (The Rise of Anthropological Theory: A History of Theories of Culture)

 

Approach:

 

These two theories will combine to allow me to draw conclusions based off the idea that all people reflect their internal state of being through external actions. I will then apply this idea to different decades throughout American history and find substantial evidence to make claims about how the external climate directly impacted the practical play of baseball.

 

Background and History:

 

Throughout both the history of America and the history of baseball there have been many changes in the mindset of how to go about many things. America has changed its mind on certain things such as marriage and voting rights. Similarly, baseball has changed its mind on certain things such as how to most effectively pitch to a batter and put runs on the board. In this, one must examine American ethnology and archaeology and how the cultural and historical changes influenced American thinking. Building off of Functional Theory, established by Bronislaw Malinowski and argues “every belief, action, or relationship in a culture functions to meet the need of every individual,” I will determine to what extent the beliefs and cultures in America mirror themselves in a common act of everyday routine for many Americans. This theory was further expanded upon by Marvin Harris in 1960 when he claimed the “Theory of Cultural Mechanism” which states “Materials or conditions within the environment (climate, food, supply, and geography) influence how a culture develops, creating the ideas and ideology of a culture.” Harris’s Theory of Cultural Mechanism provides an example of how the mindset of many Americans would alter during times of hardship or prosperity.

 

1900’s Through 1920’s

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At the turn of the 20th century, America was dealing with an extensive social movement of progressivism. This movement caused by many social reforms, these social reforms however brought about a new mindset for Americans. This mindset was one of progress, how to not just do things but to do them right. Enter Cy Young. Cy Young began his legendary career in 1890, in which he quickly began the most dominant pitcher of that era. This could arguably reflect the mindset of efficiency that America had acquired. Pitchers in this era began to pitch to strike out, meaning they no longer just tried to get the ball in play so the fielders could do the work, rather they tried to eliminate the batter from even having a chance of getting on base. This change was evident in that the ERA of pitchers dropped dramatically from previous years and began what is known as “the dead ball era” named specifically for the lack of runs and big hits generated.

 

Now jump forward to 1914, and we see the first year that the legend Babe Ruth entered the ballgame for the first time. Babe Ruth that year managed to hit 0 home runs, the following year he hit 4, then 3, then 2. These seem like insignificant numbers for someone who was known as “The Sultan of Swat.” Babe Ruth did not have his first impressive season until 1920 in which he hit a league-dominating 52 home runs. Coincidentally this was the year directly after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Why does this matter? The ball. In 1920 baseballs were made

differently, made using Australian methods to be precise, after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles Americans felt safer about foreign countries and were more eager to adopt

characteristics from them. This era was consequently called “the live ball era” and coincided with what is known as “the roaring 20s.” This time period in American history was characterized by opulence and grandeur as emulated in the novel “The Great Gatsby.” Similarly, opulence was in baseball too. Batters were hitting the ball more, and harder. The era of pitchers had gone, efficiency was no longer the focus. Big games, big hits, and big scores now characterized the sport.

 

 

1930’s Through 1960’s (Excluding the 1950’s)

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The 1930s begin what is known in American history as “The Great Depression” in which many Americans suffered poverty after the spending and international economic reliance caused for poverty to strike America. “The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world” and saw a drastic decrease in home runs and scoring for that matter. However, unlike the dead ball era, this was not caused by pitching dominance, while ERA’s and strikeouts did improve slightly during this era they did not come near the level of the 1900’s. One could conclude this was a result of a lack of enthusiasm for the game, rather a lack of enthusiasm for life in general. The Great Depression brought about a state of mind that caused many Americans to bury their head in the sand and just try to get through their own lives. This was seen in the attendance of ball games as it plummeted in the 1930’s. As the everyday American was no longer enjoying baseball it would be easy to assume that many ballplayers, when faced with similar struggles, began to lose their joy too. No longer did batters step up to the

plate to make the most of every appearance for the glory of the game, rather they were putting in their hours as they needed the income like everyone else at the time. In fact, ballplayers were more focused on being employed at the time. This trend is a perfect example of the Theory of Cultural Mechanisms as when faced with poverty many Americans turned to a state of depression. They began focusing on their everyday lives and now had a mentality focused on surviving rather than thriving.

 

 

The 1940’s saw America robbed of many of its great players such as Ted Williams who, if not for serving in the war, might be regarded as the greatest pure hitter of all time. This continued the downward trend of attendance until 1946 season, after the end of WWII. Attendance then boomed. Nationalism was running rampant throughout America and this caused everyone to rediscover their love for America’s pastime. This began a feel-good era in America, as they were finally coming out of the war. Americans began to love their fellow-man again and the historic season of 1947 began. A man like no other stepped on the diamond. A hero by the name of Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson, of course, was the first African-American to play baseball since the 1880s. America was finally moving away from its roots of traditional racism and progressing to focus on itself as a country. Nothing demonstrates this new focus on social reform and improvement after the war effort like the drafting of African-Americans into the heart of America.

 

 

During the 1960’s America was faced with a very intense confrontation with the Cuban Missile Crisis and the later assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Along with these America was still facing the Vietnam War and the Cold War with Russia. These internal and foreign conflicts caused Americans to rally around their patriotism. Not coincidentally there was a massive expansion in baseball during this time. Throughout the decade the respective National League and American League expanded their roster to each include at first 10 teams from 8 then each had 12 by the end of the decade (American baseball has been a competition between the National and American leagues since 1903). Americans wanted to be more unified, this would correlate with the statistical trend that the approval rate of governments skyrocketed during times of crisis, American, like all people, contain a strong sense of nationalism and do not like their ideologies to be challenged. If they are challenged Americans will rally together to promote unity and their ideologies among each other, which is exactly why there was such a large expansion of America’s past time.

 

 

1970’s Through 1990’s

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The 1970’s saw what might be the largest change to the game in baseball history: players got paid. The MLB saw a hyperinflation of wages during this time in which players began making up to four hundred percent of what they were making in previous years. The reason for this was the expansion of what is known as “free agency.” Free agency is the process in which a player’s current contract expires and another team (or the same team) is able to sign that player to another contract. This process was limited by the Adamantine Reserve Clause that was overturned in 1975. However, players were not the only ones to acquire new representation and respect. The 1970’s saw the advancement of many civil rights movements. Women were being treated with more equality and phrases such as Policeman were being removed from the vernacular and phrases such as Police officer were annexed as their replacements. Minorities and those in the LGBT community were beginning to see less discrimination during this time as well. The 1970’s became a decade of giving power to the people, and this trend was not lost among baseball players. No longer did club owners dictate the financial fate of players, rather they fought over each other to see who could acquire great athletes, and the athlete would go to the highest bidder. Ballplayers were no longer limited to restraints of the past, they followed and embraced the American trend of pride in one’s innate individuality and received wonderous benefits from it.

 

During the 1980’s many of the past’s baseball fans in the baby boomer generation were getting older. It was time for society to cater to a newer, younger, louder generation. Music became intense with bands like the now Brian Johnson led AC/DC and the sex-centered European rock band, Def Leppard; the movies became cruder as well such as CaddyShack (1980), Stripes (1981), and baseball related did not miss out on this with the wildly popular flick Bull Durham (1988). This louder and more intense society was more than just prevalent in movies about baseball but in baseball itself. Thus began a sharp retraction of the popularity of signing free agents. Teams began focusing on signing younger players that appealed to the newer generation. The contact hitter was less important and people craved the long ball. There was a subtraction of small base hits and home runs and big swings began reaching all-time highs (according to baseabllreference.com) Players acted more like rock stars, taking illegal drugs and misbehaving off of the field and losing the dignity older fans of the sport were proud of. The game began reflecting the mentality of the youth.

 

The 1990’s delved further into this idea of appealing to the youth. The 1990’s were the most hectic and chaotic in history with players such as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa who began mashing home runs into the sun. Records were being set that was a direct result of the 1991-2004 period known as the “Steroid Era.” This electrifying era for baseball was a direct result of the youth growing as well. Popularity in more extreme forms of entertainment such as the X Games was growing and baseball too had to become more intense, and nothing is more intense than crushing every major hitting record besides highest batting average in a season (hard to have a high batting average when you swing for the fences every time). Unfortunately, this also led to many controversial players and questioning the legitimacy of them and if their records should be in the hall of fame. Players that likely would have been in Cooperstown (the baseball hall of fame) without steroids such as Barry Bonds will now likely never get the votes the might have deserved.

 

Analysis And Modern Day Correlation

 

To what extent does the changing culture of America reflect itself in the way baseball is played?

 

The changing culture of America reflected itself adamantly in player actions, statistical trends, and public relations.

 

Any external or internal changes to the American people are prominently displayed in all aspects of their lives. It influences the way they walk, the way they think, and the way they talk; naturally, it also influences their favorite past time. From the rise of anthropology as a major scientific doctrine in the 1850’s (History of Anthropology: Second Edition) anthropologists have worked tirelessly to determine the correlation between thoughts and actions of a society influenced by what is around them. This correlation has been determined to be very strong and applies to nearly all aspects of a society’s life, which of course includes baseball.

 

Since the wide acceptance of Bronislaw’s functional theory, those studying cultures have been able to make ties between external influences and their effect on a culture’s actions. External influences have been determined to hold a sort of monopoly on one’s consciousness and seem to dictate nearly all the thoughts and actions of people. This theory, however, builds off of John Locke’s theory of “Tabula Rosa” (which translates to blank slate). Tabula Rosa is the idea that all humans are born with an empty mind and it is molded by our experiences, that all people are in fact equal at birth and are wholly developed by their experiences. Experiences drastically affect our thinking and how we act, an idea that has been around longer than anthropology has been accepted a scientific doctrine. The idea that different factors such as the Great Depression and Cold War affect every aspect of our lives (taking into account the previously stated theories) no longer seems like an uncertainty worthy of investigation, rather a fair and true statement that has had its groundwork laid before it for some time.

 

Finally, I would like to discuss the current state of America and the current state of baseball and how they relate to one another. In a study by the American Psychological Association, the average child today has the same levels of anxiety and depression as the average child in a mental therapy hospital during the 1950’s. The claim is not hard to understand, focuses have shifted since then. Today there is a focus on monetary success over personal success. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman writes that there is no definite correlation between monetary success and personal happiness yet the United States Department of Labor shows that the average American (including those who don’t work) work roughly 50 hours a week, which is a 400% increase since 1950. A focus has gone to productivity rather than enjoyability. Now let’s look at baseball and what is infamous among fans of the game, the shift (and other technological changes).

A common way to prevent a batter from getting a base hit today is to look at the data of where all of the particular batters different hits have gone and positioning the fielders accordingly, this caused there to be less and fewer hits to occur. This has been named “The Shift.” The offensive result of this was simple, if the batters could not hit the ball on the field they would simply attempt to hit the ball out of it and the amount of home runs dramatically increased (last year shattered the MLB record for home runs by the league in a single season). As a result of these big swings, there were far more strikeouts than before as well, players such as Joey Gallo would lead their team in both home runs and strikeouts and would only be batting roughly .200 (about 50 points below league average) and be viewed as productive. They were productive players because their hits didn’t matter as long as they went over the fence. This entire analytical philosophy has created what many would call a very boring game. Hardly would runners have to beat out throws from the outfield, instead they just jogged across the plate as a result of the long ball. Now only 3 things seem to happen, the batter strikes out, the batter walks, or the batter hits a home run. It is not fun to see a scorching line drive up the middle caught by someone standing 15 feet out of position because the numbers told them to stand there, hits are what make the game fun and they are being taken away. Just like our world, the baseball world has sacrificed enjoyability for productivity.

 

Conclusion

 

Throughout my research and analysis, I have deduced that the changing culture of Americans has a great influence on the way baseball is played. Our adaptation of external influences throughout our culture is shocking as we subconsciously cater our entire lives to whatever event we may be experiencing. Our lives are built off of what we experience and what we go through. This reaches a higher level than just baseball but our entire society, and our lives as individuals.  

Today we are burdening ourselves, impeding ourselves, from being content with our lives. There is pressure for efficiency and excellence, so much so we sacrifice our enjoyment for it. I can personally say that I feel socially pressured to sacrifice my own desire for even briefly developing a devil-may-care attitude for working tirelessly towards the future that feels like it never comes. Similarly, baseball is now being managed on pure analytics so that teams can be as successful as possible. This game of “analytic ball” has resulted in a sharp decline in ratings because the game simply is not as fun anymore. The game is reflecting America’s society, a society that focuses on efficiency and achievements but just is not fun anymore. Maybe we should take a closer look at baseball and the problems it is facing, then with that knowledge in hand all take a look at our own lives and see if we feel the same way.

 

Of course, baseball is far and away my favorite sport, this paper was written by gathering the opinions and beliefs of many others and utilizing the theories of anthropological experts in their fields.

 

Work Cited

 

Attanasio, Ed. “Yearly Reader.” This Great Game, edited by Eric Gouldsberry. http://www.thisgreatgame.com/faq.html#Anchor-NL-47857. Accessed 8 April 2018.

 

Barzun, Jacques. God’s Country and Mine: A Declaration of Love Spiced with a Few Harsh Words. Praeger, 1973. Accessed 8 April 2018.

 

Harris, Marvin. The Rise of Anthropological Theory. Altamira Press. 2001. Accessed 8 April 2018.

 

Kahneman, Daniel. “The Sad Tale of Aspiration Treadmill.” Edge World Question Center. https://www.edge.org/q2008/q08_17.html#kahneman. Accessed 14 June 2018

 

Locke, John. “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” Early Modern Texts. 1689. http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/locke1690book1.pdfAccessed 14 April 2018.

Malinowski, Bronisław. “The Functional Theory. Malinowski Collected Works. Vol. IX,    Routledge, 1944. Accessed 8 April 2018.

 

Simmons, Bill. “The Steroid Era” Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, 5 Dec. 2015. http://www.espn.com/mlb/topics/_/page/the-steroids-era. Accessed on 15 April 2018.

 

Twenge, Jean M. “The Age of Anxiety? Birth Cohort Change in Anxiety and Neuroticism, 1952-1993.” American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases /2000/12/anxiety.aspx. Accessed 14 June 2018.

 

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Average hours employed people spent working on days worked by day of the week.” Graphics for Economic.News Release. https://library.nmu.edu/ guides/userguides/style_apa_un100careerresources.htm. Accessed 14 June 2018.

Misael Urbina: Venezuelan to American Baseball

-The K Zone-

August 27th 2018

Misael Urbina

Interview by Mike Duffy


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Mike Duffy: When did you start loving the game of baseball?

Misael Urbina: I entered the academy when I was 13. That is when I became serious about baseball.


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Mike Duffy: What number will you use for the twins? Is there a reason why you chose that number?

Misael Urbina: 53! In I my first year when I played with firestone, I was number 12. When I came to the twins they didn’t have 12 or my other old number 27 so they gave 53 to me. It was a good number, so I stayed with that.


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Mike Duffy: Who is your favorite baseball player?

Misael Urbina: Gerardo Parra.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite movie?

Misael Urbina: Fast and Furious.


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Mike Duffy: Who is your favorite musician?

Misael Urbina: Bad Bunny.


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Mike Duffy: What is baseball like in Venezuela?

Misael Urbina: The best player in Venezuela are very strong aggressive. To play baseball in Caribbean you always go to the field with the greatest attitude, one.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite TV series?

Misael Urbina: ESPN.


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Mike Duffy: What team were you a fan of when you were younger?

Misael Urbina: Dodgers.


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For more Interviews Click Here

For more updates on articles follow us on Instagram @thekzonenews

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Misael Urbina: Béisbol Venezolano a Americano

-The K Zone-

El 26 de Agosto de 2018

Misael Urbina

Entrevista por Mike Duffy


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Mike Duffy: ¿Cuándo comenzaste a amar el juego de béisbol?

Misael Urbina: Ingresé a la academia cuando tenía 13 años. Fue entonces cuando me tomé en serio el béisbol.


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Mike Duffy: ¿Qué número usarás para los gemelos? ¿Hay alguna razón por la que elegiste ese número?

Misael Urbina: 53. Si en mi primer año cuando jugaba con Firestone, era el número 12. Cuando vine a los gemelos no tenían 12, así que me dieron 53. Fue un buen número, así que me quedé con eso.


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Mike Duffy: ¿Quién es tu jugador de béisbol favorito?

Misael Urbina: Gerardo Parra.


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Mike Duffy: ¿Cuál es tu película favorita?

Misael Urbina: Rápido y Furioso.


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Mike Duffy: ¿Quién es tu músico favorito?

Misael Urbina: Bad Bunny.


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Mike Duffy: ¿Cómo es el béisbol en Venezuela?


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Mike Duffy: ¿Cuál es tu serie de TV favorita?

Misael Urbina: ESPN.


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Mike Duffy: ¿De qué equipo eras fanático cuando eras más joven?

Misael Urbina: Dodgers.


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Dylan Coleman: Gods Plan

-The K Zone-

August 26th 2018

Dylan Coleman

Interview by Mike Duffy


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Mike Duffy: What are some of your favorite parts about the Padres Organization?

Dylan Coleman: Some of my favorite parts about being in the padres organization is all the people that are involved with it and how much talent there is, it kind of brings out the best in me.


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Mike Duffy: What was it like playing for Missouri State? What are some of your favorite moments there?

Dylan Coleman: It was such an honor to play at Missouri State have a lot of great memories from there. Some that really stuck out to me we’re the playoff runs that we had in the regional and super regional.


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Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Dylan Coleman: I knew I wanted to play professional baseball ever since I was young it’s something I’ve always dreamed of and I am blessed to be in the position I am.


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Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite player growing up?

Dylan Coleman: My favorite player growing up was Scott Rolen he wore number 27 and that’s why it’s my favorite number.


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Mike Duffy: What team were you the biggest fan of growing up?

Dylan Coleman: Growing up being from Missouri the Cardinals were my favorite team obviously it’s a little different now being a Padre.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite stadium?

Dylan Coleman: Can’t really say I have a favorite stadium the only two stadiums I’ve been to are Busch Stadium and Wrigley Field.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite baseball memory?

Dylan Coleman: My favorite baseball memory is probably the game I threw at super regionals against TCU.


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Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Dylan Coleman: Wouldn’t really say I have a Moto when times are going rough just know I have to work harder also talk to my parents and know that God has a plan for me.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite movie?

Dylan Coleman: Don’t really have a favorite movie I like a lot of them just not scary ones.


Mike Duffy: Who is your favorite Musician and what’s your favorite song?

Dylan Coleman: Drake is for sure my favorite musicianIn my favorite song is take care.


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Mike Duffy:What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Dylan Coleman: My favorite hobby besides baseball is for sure basketball.


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For more Interviews Click Here

For more updates on articles follow us on Instagram @thekzonenews

Comment below on how we can improve the articles!

Thanks for reading!

Three Thought Provoking Articles From This Week

https://www.vnews.com/Derek-Jeter-starts-program-with-the-Marlins-to-teach-all-players-and-coaches-Spanish-19530092

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2791455-i-find-it-very-difficult-to-watch-why-mlb-greats-think-baseballs-in-trouble

https://theathletic.com/480139/2018/08/19/in-williamsport-church-classroom-a-different-summer-school-for-phillies-latin-american-players/