A Higher Calling
Yesterday, I was unable to post because of the varsity basketball game I went to to support my school. I hoped in my last entry that my school would dominate the game and that it would go by fast, so that I could get home in time to post. They did win, but it was not as much domination as I had hoped. It was a one-sided game, and my school won by more than 20 points. However, there were more fouls in this game than in any high school basketball game I’ve ever seen. Therefore, I didn’t arrive home until late. It was a fun time though, and I’m glad I went.
Yesterday, there was again no real baseball news, aside from the minor signing of Gary Matthews Jr. and resigning of Shane Victorino. The most interesting news of yesterday involved a young prospect who has been quickly moving up the ranks in the Oakland Athletics’ farm system: Grant Desme. Desme had a phenomenal season in Class A ball, hitting 31 homeruns and stealing 40 bases. He also received the MVP award in the Arizona Fall League, and was awaiting his expected invite to spring training with the A’s. However, unknown to the public or the A’s organization, Desme had been considering a higher calling for some time. Yesterday, he announced that he would be leaving baseball to become a priest. Desme had always been a very religious person, and thanks God for his success in baseball this past year. When he contacted A’s GM Billy Beane, he expected Beane to be shocked and disappointed. Surprisingly, Beane’s reaction was, “great” and he was very understanding of the decision, according to Desme. Desme also said:
“I thought, I’m doing well in baseball, but I really had to get down to the bottom of things — what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. And I felt that while baseball is a good thing and I love playing, I thought it was selfish of me to be doing that when I really felt that God was calling me more, which took me awhile in my life to really trust and open up to it and aim full steam toward Him.”
While I am not a very religious person, I can see the motivation for Desme’s decision. Imagine that you are very religious and have strong faith in God from a young age. You are slowed by injuries many times in your career, and finally you have a breakout season. During the season, you struggle to dismiss feelings of wanting to pursue something more religious, to thank God for this great blessing. This is Desme’s story, and it’s an interesting one. One interesting fact is that Desme viewed the many injuries of his career as a message from God to pursue something “more important” than baseball. He says of this:
“My injuries, I would say, would be the biggest blessing God’s ever given me,” he said. “For my entire life, baseball’s been my life. I define myself as a baseball player, and when it was taken away from me, it was an eye-opener. It was a real shock that it could end. I realized that even if I played in the big leagues, it was still going to end, or it could end anytime you step on the field with an injury. I really started doing some soul searching of who I was and who I wanted to be, and this is where that’s led me.”
There have been mixed responses about Desme’s decision, including some that I found in the comment section on this article on MLB.com:
-“He should give his signing bonus or a large chunk of it back. That would be the Christian thing to do.”
-“I really need to tip my hat to this young man. I guess I am too selfish in my thinking, but if my beliefs were as strong as his I would play the game for a few years and the money I earned I would donate to the poor. The priesthood will always be there when he is done and age isn’t part of the equation. Baseball on the other hand has such a small window of opportunity.”
-If he wanted to do good things with his life, staying in baseball and being a role model would have been the smartest thing. The priesthood?? Organized religion is more corrupt than baseball. He threw away a change to REALLY make a difference in the world. Nice job.
I don’t have a very strong opinion on this news, but I do think that Desme is admirable for pursuing something that he finds important, and leaving another one of his great passions in order to do this. He has decided to follow his real dream, and that is something we are taught to respect from a young age. I can see why people would be annoyed by this, because he is a young man leaving baseball by choice, a game that so many of us would be overjoyed to be given the chance to play professionally. I do respect Desme’s decision, and I wish him the best in his new life.
Thanks for reading.
Thoughts for Haiti
All of you have heard about the earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, no doubt. The images and news we have heard or seen on numerous websites and on the news each night are hard to bear. Seeing pictures of the wreckage and chaos the people of Haiti are living in really makes one stop and pause for a moment. When reading my favorite blogs yesterday, I saw that Jane Heller (Confessions of a She-Fan) had written an entry on the earthquake and was taking “a time-out for Haiti.” I thought this was a very admirable thing to do and I decided to write a Haiti-related post today (I hope you don’t mind me copying you, Jane).
This terrible news related to me especially because my younger brother is adopted from Haiti. Although my family is no longer in contact with his birth parents, there is the possibility that his grand-parents or relatives were seriously injured or worse in the earthquake (thankfully, the last we heard from his parents, they were living in Florida). My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and all the Hatian-Americans who don’t know the fate of their relatives, but most especially to the residents of Haiti.
Despite the many troubles Haiti has encountered over the years, the country has produced some excellent athletes that have succeeded in several major sports in the United States. I feel that paying tribute to a few of my favorite Haitian athletes is a fitting sports-related gesture to the country in this difficult time.
Samuel Dalembert is a Hatian born professional basketball player. He currently plays center for the Philadelphia 76ers, and has put up respectable numbers during each of his 7 years in the NBA. He is most renowned for his excellent shot-blocking skills, averaging about 2 blocks per game. He is one of the top shot blockers in the game today, and is a force to be reckoned with when driving the lane. For the sake of space, I’ll provide you with links to two youtube clips showcasing Dalembert blocking two of the most powerful players in the NBA:
-Dalembert blocks Shaquille O’Neal twice
-Dalembert blocks Yao Ming twice
Dalembert is a player who has always been very well respected by his teammates and other players in the NBA. So far, the news from Haiti has been good for Dalembert, as he found out recently that his father survived the earthquake and is well. He is yet to hear from any other relatives. Best wishes to Dalembert, and good luck to him with the rest of his season.
Pierre Garcon was born in New York, but has many relatives in Haiti. He is currently a wide-receiver for the Indianapolis Colts
. Although Garcon served as a backup in his rookie year last season, he had hopes of getting more playing time coming in to the current NFL season. Due to an early season injury to second-string WR Anthony Gonzalez this year, Garcon was given the starting job as the #2 WR in Peyton Manning’s unstoppable passing attack. Garcon proved to be the perfect target for Manning, racking up great stats and helping the Colts earn the #1 AFC seed in the playoffs. The Colts play on Saturday in their first playoff game this year, and Garcon is listed as probable for that game, due to a thumb injury that has sidelined him for the past 2 weeks. Apparently Garcon has also received good news about his relatives so far, and now that my Patriots are out of the picture, I have no problem rooting for this young wide reciever to put on a show come Sunday. I hope you tune in to check him out as well, he is a phenomenal young player.
There are currently no Haitian players in the MLB,
but there are several up and coming prospects that hail from Haiti throughout the Minor Leagues. Although I was previously not familiar with any of these prospects (a list can be found here), Simon is described as “the most advanced” of the group by the MLB.com article I linked. He is a pitcher for the Williamsport Crosscutters, a class A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Simon boasted a 4-4 record this past season, but went 5-0 with a 1.11 ER in the 2007 season. While I do not know of any news surrounding Simon’s relatives and his family, I hope that they are all well and that his career continues to be a succesful one. Maybe we’ll see him someday on the mound at Citizens Bank Park.
It’s too bad that there aren’t more Haitian baseball players, but at least there are a good deal of minor leaguers. The important thing to focus on, however, is the current news from Haiti. I ask you to keep the people of Haiti in your thoughts.
Thanks for reading.