Not again……Not this.
It seems like last week when I wrote the piece about one of my favorite young pitchers Jose Fernandez being killed in an accident.
And yet, for some cruel reason, here I am again. Looking at a screen. Trying to find words that explain what happened to one of my favorite hometown guys, Yordano Ventura. Ace. YO. The Kid. is gone. Killed in a gruesome car wreck in the Dominican Republic. In an eerie situation that will bring memories of Oscar Taveras to mind. Coincidentally the very same guy that Ventura mourned in game 6 of the 2014 World Series by placing his initials on his hat.
Yordano Ventura was one of my absolute favorite players to watch. He played with fire and passion. He was at his best when he was playing with emotion. This cost him the love of a few fans. But time and time again I would defend him when he threw at guys, or yelled at people because he elevated his game everytime he did. He backed down from no one. Mike Trout, Manny Machado, Brett Lawrie, the list could go on. He didn't care who you were. He was going to beat you, and he wanted you to know it. He wasn't the biggest guy in the league, 5'11 and 190lbs. But then you saw his fastball. There were few that could touch his fastball when it was on, and even fewer starting pitchers that could come close for one inning, let alone 9.
His first game was as a "September call-up" in 2013. He started against the Cleveland Indians and pitched 5.2 innings of 1 run ball. He looked electric, He looked like the future, He looked really small…. As I sat in my apartment with Robert Wells (who was in town from Japan) we both were buzzing about what we had just witnessed. Ace rolled that start right into the 2014 season where he was absolutely lights out.
In his last game of his rookie year he was asked to pitch just after the death of his friend Oscar Taveras. A game that will probably go down as the greatest game of his career. Game 6 of the World Series. And I was there. I will never forget this day as long as I live. Jon Bergman calls me at 3 pm from Springfield, Missouri. He was on his was to KC and had an extra ticket. He said he would be at my house in an hour and a half (don't bother figuring out how fast he was driving) and we were going. The Royals were coming back from San Fransico down 3-2. This game was a very literal must win. And Ventura was toeing the mound. Even though he was just a rookie, you knew he was the person you wanted to see taking the rubber that day. And we could not have been more correct. Huge leg kicks, spins, flaling hands. He was the biggest form of himself. Constantly talking to himself, and the Giants. He came out and ABSOLUTELY dominated. 7 innings. No runs. 3 hits. He dominated. He electrified the stadium. Flat out, he was the perfect guy, in the perfect situation. The Royals won, and would take the game to a winner take all Game 7. At the time I never could of believed the game could mean anymore. Then with today's news, it some how does.
In Ventura's last start as a Royal he again payed tribute to his friend Oscar Taveras, but this time he had to add one more name to that hat. Jose Fernandez. It is crazy to think Ve tura will now end up as a tribute on someone's hat.
Ventura was on pace to become the Royals leader in playoff starts in the 2017 postseason, and was a lock as the number 2 starter for the season. He seemed poised to add to his 38 career wins (in just 3 full seasons). He averaged just under 13 wins a season for the Royals, and made people come to the ballpark. He was a member of this team that came up as a Royal. He was by all accounts one of maybe two success stories of starting pitchers whom the Royals had brought up through their system during the GMDM regime. And it is ironic that the other, his brother for so many seasons, Danny Duffy (who along with Christian Colon were at the K today hugging people), once told the local Media to #burymearoyal. And now, we will turn that metaphor into an actual event for one of Kansas City's finest young talents.
RIP ACE. You were taken too soon.
As the Royals family woke up to Sunday, possibly looking forward to Spring Training next month and the return of our beloved Royals, we were hit with news that shook us all. Yordano “Ace” Ventura, the Royals young and rising star pitcher, was killed in ... Read more
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