I had a family gathering today. It was actually a late Christmas gathering as we combine it with my mother's birthday which is later this week. As my sister arrived, she came in and told me she'd bring the gifts in later. She then said "I guess you heard the news". I hadn't to be honest. I spent the morning cleaning and getting ready for today, and usually on days we have family gatherings I don't spend much time online. I was last on at about 2 AM, and once I woke up only got online to do a couple things I wanted done real quick, and no time for news or Facebook. So I said "No".
"The Royals pitcher?"
"No, I haven't been online today." (I suddenly got bad thoughts and was actually thinking of former Royal Edinson Volquez for some reason.)
"A Royals pitcher died in a car wreck in the Dominican Republic, stars with a Y."
*nervous stare* "Yordano?" (Now I started freaking out a bit, though to be honest any name would be sad).
"I don't think so, let me look on my phone."
*nervous stare continues* (I don't have a cell phone so I couldn't really look. Instead while she looked I set up the movie Mulan for my nieces.
"Yeah, it looks like it was Yordano? Ventura? He was 25."
At this point I may not have shown it but I was gutted. It came as a surprise shock, and no matter who it would be I'd still be upset. As my sister and brother in law brought in the gifts and a bunch of cards they mentioned a while back, I snuck into the bedroom to check out ESPN. With more live programming on the weekend, and the focus on the NFL playoffs, nothing was really said. However it did scroll along the bottom that he had indeed died from a car wreck. However before I turned it I got more news. It turns out another player died in the Dominican Republic in a separate car accident. Andy Marte was also killed and while I didn't have the emotional attachment to him, it both perplexed me and made me sad.
I remembered the name Andy Marte, but not much else. He played for the Indians, Braves, and the Diamondbacks, but he also played on the Dominican Winter League team with...
Yordano Ventura. Yordano is one of many talented MLB players from the Dominican Republic. Another one of those players died tragically in a car accident two years ago, and it resonated with Ventura.
Oscar Taveras died in a car wreck right before (or during) the 2014 World Series. On the night Yordano was scheduled to pitch, it used a sharpie to put O.T. and Oscar's number on his hat to remember him. I could imagine that it devastated the young "Ace".
All the details aren't in yet on Ventura's (or Marte's) accidents, but one bit of information I did find out is that the Dominican Republic has the highest rate of car accidents of the Americas. After the last few years, I don't dispute this.
As for Ventura, what hurts the most for me is that we will never see how he panned out. Some may know him for his attitude issues the past couple years, some only know him from his World Series games. Many know him from his time with the Royals as the future. I believe while he was still working on those anger issues, he would have become the star for the Royals for next decade. He could have been the next Bret Saberhagen. To many that may not sound too impressive, but as a Royals fan, he would be the foundation for the next several years. Add to the fact he'd have Salvador Perez behind the plate, and while many questions surround the future of the Royals with their payroll, Yo would have probably been a fan favorite for a long time.
I still can't really express the words on how I feel, as at the most basic, I'm very heartbroken. Danny Duffy and Christian Colon were already in Kansas City and when people started coming to Kauffman Stadium to remember Ventura, Colon and newly re-signed Duffy came to console the fans. The flags are at half staff, and the fans are having a vigil to remember Yordano.
At this time I'm not even thinking about where the team goes from here, and how they will replace "Ace", but in a few weeks they will have to figure it out. Until then I will just think of all the memories Yordano gave us. As for Edison Volquez who I mentioned earlier, he's also had a bad week. You may remember him from pitching a World Series on a night his father passed and his family didn't tell him until after the game. Earlier this week, a brother of Edinson was stabbed and killed in his home country. THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.
With nothing else to really say, I'll just wrap it up. Maybe I can think of a better way to express my thoughts and post them later, but for now, this will do. Thanks for reading, and on a day I found out one of my favorite current players died, I got a book about one of my favorite players I never got to see, Roberto Clemente. A man whose career was also cut short. I'll show my gifts off in a future post, but for now, I just wanted to say a bit about Yordano. So rest in peace Yordano "Ace" Ventura, you'll be missed more than you will ever know.