Middle Relief: The Legend of Vlad in Winter (via Grantland)

From the first time the baseball world got a look at Vlad, it was clear we were dealing with a very different kind of subject. Read Dan Le Batard’s Guerrero profile from 10 years ago and you begin to understand why. There are the usual stories of future sports stars growing up in poverty … and then there’s Vlad, who drank from puddles as a child and had to share two beds with six other family members after a hurricane blew the roof off the Guerreros’ shack. There are the usual disconnects between English-speaking reporters and Spanish-speaking players … and then there’s Vlad, who’s so shy about his lack of education and a fear he’ll be perceived as unintelligent that he rarely talks to anyone outside his immediate circle.

And yes, he approached the game differently from anyone else, including sizing up opposing pitchers by facing them on his PlayStation. One of the oldest axioms in sports is to practice the way you play. No problem for Vlad. He swung at everything on PlayStation, too.

People tell stories about Vlad the way they might about Roy Hobbs, if he were real. I once saw Vlad make a diving catch over an alligator in right-center. Oh yeah? I once saw him hit a ball that landed in Moose Jaw. Pfft! You weren’t there when he threw a guy out at home while lying in a sleeping bag in the right-field bleachers while his mom read him ghost stories.

Thing is, everything short of gators and Moose Jaw and sleeping bags actually happened. … Read More

(via Grantland)

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