Backstory and history of a particular player- make them come to life!
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Earlier this spring, at 36 years old and with a career’s worth of accolades behind him, Alfredo “Savage” Salazar was pondering his life. “To be honest, I was wondering if I should hang ‘em up,” he said during an interview before a recent BP session. “I mean, I’ve had a lot of success, and the body kind if gets worn down. It’s a hard thing to play 162 games on 36-year-old knees. So, yeah, me and Jessie (his wife of thirteen years) were talking about it. I wasn’t sure what was up, really. It was kind of a strange Christmas.”
Looking at it logically, it makes sense that a guy like Alfredo Salazar might have been looking at what happens next. He’d won two Landis titles, after all. A couple Sawyer Silk trophies sit on his mantle. He’s won eight Pucketts, and been to the All-Star game eight tomes. Won a Gillstrom and a Zimmer. And that’s not counting the heavy weight of all the awards he won in Europe.
And, let’s not forget that Salazar already has all the money, too.
Before this season started, “Savage” had been paid $361M to play baseball in the BBA, perhaps the most famous $60M of which was laid on the barrelhead by Madison back when they signed him to a dramatic 6-season deal out of the EBA.
So after three downish seasons in Brooklyn, Charm City, and Atlantic City (seasons for which mere mortals would be expecting to be feted for, but which far Savage Salazar were signs from the gods that perhaps it was time to move on), you can see why he was in a contemplative mood this spring. Baseball hadn’t been as much fun recently. His bat had slowed a tough, and the velo around the league had risen. Last season, frustration had boiled up and he found himself suspended for his part in a brawl that he found difficult to explain ti a pair of near-teenaged boys. With his kids growing up, he wanted out of the glitzy world of gambling and excess, so he’d opted out of the last season of his deal with Atlantic City. Add in the fact that the phone wasn’t ringing off the hook early on the Free Agency cycle, and you can see how he’d be ready to move on.
He considered a deal to return to Charm City for a while, but the Jimmies weren’t going to win for awhile, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to play just for a paycheck. So, he didn’t bite until the call from Yellow Springs General Manager Ron Collins, who wooed Savage with stories of a quiet life on farms and a promise of careful handling of his time on the field.
“I said I wasn’t looking for 7 WAR Savage,” Collins said on the phone. “I told him we had learned our lesson last year, and that a roster full of nothing but talented kids didn’t seem to know how to win. So we wanted 400 AB or so, and a guy who could help those talented kids see what it was like to be a winner.” We assume the boatload of money Collins offered didn’t hurt ($16M base with more in incentives, and an opt-out next season).
Savage himself said it was about the city. “I’d been to Yellow Springs a lot as a Wolf, and it’s a great place for a baseball player. It’s a big league town with a Midwest feel. The fans are sharp, too,” he says with a smile that says he knows where he’s going next. “Not like the doofuses in Louisville.” Of course, he remembered the whole negotiation between the Nine and Madison when he was coming over, too. “Ron was always a straight-up guy with that,” he said. “I appreciated that he made a true faith offer to get me, and really, if the Nine hadn’t been so passionate, I’m sure Madison wouldn’t have gone so high.”
Regardless, none of that might matter—none of it might make for much of a story if it weren’t for the fact that, now that he deal is done and the season has started with Alfredo Salazar wearing a Nine uniform, it appears that the highly decorated old man has found a new step to his game.
In 111 plate appearances, Savage Salazar is hitting what would be a career high .330/.432/.670. Yes, he’s facing a lot of left-handed pitching (which he’s destroying), but he’s seeing some righties, too, and dropping hits only a quarter notch below. He’s hit seven doubles and seven homers, and even legged out a pair of triples. Even better, he’s having fun. “You know, I’m feeling the game again,” he says, “sometimes I think I’d like to play a little more, you know? I suppose that’s natural. At one time I figured sitting some might be best, but it turns out this game is harder to watch than it is to play. But really, being here with these guys is great. They’re all really good, you know. Sometimes they’re even better than they think they are, and that makes being here even better.”
And, as far as the future goes, well, it’s up in the air.
“We’ll see,” he says. The kids are settling in a little now. The air is maybe a little fresher in Ohio that it is in Atlantic City—though perhaps a little more organic.
So maybe Yellow Springs will be the final destination of Alfredo Salazar’s career and maybe it won’t. Maybe the player will lead the kids to a Heartland title and maybe he won’t. Maybe the Salazar family has found a forever home in Ohio, or maybe they haven’t.
All you can say for sure is that Alfredo Salazar is enjoying baseball again.
Yellow Springs Nine
Playoff Regular, Landis Averse
Playoff Regular, Landis Averse
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