I didn't want to believe the news I read this morning, that our pitcher Yordano Ventura had died in a car accident. No, no, no, no, no......
What's weird is I had woken up this morning, staring at Yordano's picture and thinking about him briefly. Let me explain: I was lying in bed, looking to the wall opposite my bed, where my writing desk is. Hanging over my desk is the 2016 wall calendar from last year I still hadn't taken down---a Royals calendar commemorating their 2015 win. Yordano was the player featured on December, and I had contemplated how at some point I should take the calendar down, but I didn't have an immediate replacement for the empty spot on the wall, and I didn't mind having Yordano up there a little longer. These were some of my first thoughts of the day. Within an hour or so I'd go online and learn that Yordano had lost his life.
He was only 25. He was still just a kid, a goofy kid. That's why I had a soft spot in my heart for him, because we'd all seen him battling. He had tremendous talent, and sometimes he was brilliant, dazzling. Other times he was all over the place, and unable to last past a few innings. He lost his cool a few times and lost his command, but give the kid a break...he had a good heart. He was really trying to correct his mistakes. And when he was on, he was really on, throwing fire and reminding everyone why they'd called him Ace Ventura.
No one who watched Game 6 of the 2014 World Series could forget his 7 shut-out innings against the Giants. Brilliant. We didn't really care that he was erratic, because we loved him on the team, and we knew his best years were ahead of him. He was fun to watch, and we looked forward to seeing him develop in the coming years into a mature, solid player. In the meantime, he brought his spirit and personality and youthfulness to the game, to the Royals, and to our city.
We loved his story, the unlikely odds he overcame to make it all the way to the big leagues, and we were so happy to see his success. He was part of that incredible, unbelievable ride we all took to the World Series win in 2015. We loved that he was ours, and we got to see him pitch. To think there will be no more Yordano Ventura bobblehead nights....he will be sorely missed this coming baseball season.