Swartz on sports: Remembering Yordano Ventura

Swartz on sports , Gabe Swartz

Waking up Sunday morning to the sobering news of Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura’s death hit many people from Kansas City in the heart. Throughout different parts of Sunday I had moments of thought about Ventura, his career and his glowing personality and joy for the game of baseball that was captured through much of his career as a Royal.

Ventura, who had his fair share of altercations on the baseball field with other teams- whether it be situations against the White Sox, Angels, Athletics, or Orioles- often left many fans wishing he would grow up and round into the flame-throwing ace they knew he could be. That same fearlessness and joy that he took the mound with, ready to take on anyone willing to stand in against his 100 mile per hour fastballs, seems to have been his downfall as well. Losing his life at a mere 25 years old in a one-car crash in the Dominican Republic, just as one of his closest friends and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras did in 2014, leaves us all wondering what could have been.

Just two days after the death of Taveras, Ventura took the mound in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series, throwing seven innings of scoreless baseball. In perhaps his most memorable moment as a Royal, Ventura showed all the makings of an ace that most Royals fans wished he could bottle up and bring to every game.

As much as we’ll all be left wondering what Ventura’s future might have held, that’s not what this is about. This story is about a young man who played a kids game with the joy and smile that many of us could only hope for. So in light of this, let’s honor Yordano in the way he would’ve wanted, giving it our all each and every day and taking nothing for granted.