Not many superstars have had a super start.
But then we have Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the No. 1 pick for Major League Baseball, who made his debut last week. He was an utter sensation, and everything he did simply electrified the crowd, who even gave him a standing ovation as he stepped up to the plate. He could be the franchise player Toronto Blue Jays need to solidify their future.
The son of last year’s Hall of Famer helped his team reverse a losing record with a three-game sweep of the visiting Oakland Athletics despite a mediocre performance in front of the cheering crowd.
The Canadian-born player, who traces his roots to the Dominican Republic, finished three games with a 0.25 batting average and no home run, but he wove magic for his team to overcome a three-run deficit in the 11th inning on Monday morning.
The whole Guerrero debut was a marketing hype aimed at boosting a team long overdue for a World Series championship since it last won the title in 1993.
However, attendance fell 30 percent in the first week of the season a month ago because the only Canadian team traded most of its franchise players ahead of the season to pave the way for the future team.
To get the first-hand experience of the fading team, I went to the Rogers Stadium earlier this month. The seats were less than half filled on that sunny weekend. I did not stay till the end of the game, although the team ended up winning in the last inning.
Well, Guerrero is Blue Jays’ future. The 20-year-old has all the ingredients for a franchise player and the front office has noticed that.
Blue Jays signed Guerrero Jr for US$3.9 million in 2015 in the hopes that he would dominate the sports much like Lionel Messi is doing in soccer and LeBron James in basketball.
That’s probably also why the team chose to delay the star player’s debut for a week – which was when I was in Toronto – they wanted to squeeze the most publicity mileage out of him. Even his father read a letter to his son during his debut, which was when his team faced one of the weakest opposing pitchers in the league.
His being the son of a Hall of Famer invites all sorts of commentary, mostly comparisons with the performances of his hard-hitting dad for Montreal Expos and California Angels. The conclusion is that the son is more patient, with a pleasant demeanor and endearing character.
And now that the first week is gone, it’s time to play ball. Yes, baseball needs excitement, and Vlad Jr. fits the bill.
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