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Bregman Respect

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by Rashmon, Oct 28, 2017.

  1. Rashmon

    Rashmon Contributing Member

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    Didn't see it posted but felt it was worth it's own thread. Great article about Bregman learning Spanish so he can communicate with teammates. Great story...

    The Astros’ Alex Bregman Keeps Working at Hitting, Fielding and Spanish

    LOS ANGELES — On his first day in the major leagues, in August 2016, Yuli Gurriel was understandably nervous. He was 32 and had defected six months earlier from Cuba to sign with the Houston Astros. Now, after 15 games in the minor leagues, he had been summoned to play at baseball’s highest level.

    At his locker before his debut, Gurriel heard a comforting language, but from an unexpected source. Alex Bregman, an Albuquerque native who played at Louisiana State, was speaking in Spanish. And he was talking to Gurriel.

    “It surprised me,” Gurriel said. “He said, ‘I played with you in Cuba as a college kid.’ It really stood out to me.”

    Baseball clubhouses in the major leagues are a combination of races and nationalities, the two largest groups being white Americans and Latinos. The Astros, who are playing in their first World Series since 2005, are a fitting illustration, especially in the starting infield, where Bregman plays.

    There’s the Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa, who was the 2015 American League rookie of the year. There’s the Venezuelan second baseman Jose Altuve, a leading candidate for a Most Valuable Player Award this year. And at first base there is Gurriel, who on Friday night in Game 3 of the World Series was caught making a racist gesture that referred to the Japanese heritage of the Dodgers’ Yu Darvish.

    The episode was a vivid reminder of how easily ethnicity can separate people, even those who share a love of baseball.

    Across from Gurriel at the other corner of the infield is Bregman, a 23-year-old third baseman and a first-round draft pick in 2015 who moves seamlessly between the team’s contingents of Latino and American players because he has a working knowledge of Spanish and a desire to get better at it.

    “He makes the effort, and he values the guys who don’t speak English, which is important in this game,” said Carlos Beltran, the Astros’ designated hitter, who is from Puerto Rico.

    “When I see an American player really making the effort with the Latinos, it’s something really special,” added Beltran, 40, who was shy as a teenage prospect because he did not understand English but over the years has become confident in publicly addressing issues. He was one of the players most instrumental in getting Major League Baseball to require that every team have Spanish-English interpreters.

    More than a quarter of major league players are Latino, and most of those were born overseas. After arriving in the United States, those players are expected to learn English, and they often take language classes in baseball academies and in the minor leagues.

    In contrast, American-born players without any Latino background do not receive similar instruction in Spanish, even though it is the first language of numerous teammates. Instead, they usually learn bits of Spanish from playing alongside Latinos in both the minor and major leagues.

    What frequently happens as a result is that the foreign-born Latino players, especially those whose English is limited, end up spending most of their time in and away from the clubhouse with their fellow Spanish-speaking teammates. It becomes a question of comfort and familiarity.

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    Bregman, left, and his teammate Yuli Gurriel during a regular-season game last month. Gurriel remembered Bregman speaking Spanish to him on Gurriel’s first day in the major leagues.CreditBob Dechiara/USA Today Sports, via Reuters
    But in the Astros’ clubhouse, the high-energy, Spanish-speaking Bregman bounces around everywhere.

    “He hangs with the American players, the Latinos, everyone,” Correa said. “He’s a great teammate.”

    On Monday, the day before Game 1 of the World Series, the Astros’ infielders finished fielding drills and headed to the batting cage together. Altuve, Correa, Gurriel, Bregman and the utility player Marwin Gonzalez, who is from Venezuela, walked as a group — with Gonzalez’s arm over Bregman’s shoulder.

    Growing up in New Mexico and in a baseball family, Bregman was perhaps destined for this. His father, Sam, who is a lawyer, and an uncle played baseball at the University of New Mexico. His grandfather Stan was the general counsel for the second version of the Washington Senators, and helped negotiate the team’s sale.

    At age 5, Alex Bregman said, he began receiving Spanish instruction in school. Throughout his baseball travels, including time while on developmental rosters for Team U.S.A., he said, he played in Colombia, Mexico and Cuba. That helped with his Spanish, too.

    Bregman was selected by the Astros with the second overall pick in 2015, and within a year he was in the major leagues because of his strong fielding and hitting ability. He hit .284 with 19 home runs and 71 R.B.I. this season and was 3 for 10 with a home run through the first two games of the World Series. Meanwhile, Bregman said, his Spanish skills continued to improve because he had so many Latino teammates once he turned professional.

    “I’m basically almost fluent now,” he said, perhaps overstating his proficiency. “I understand it all and speak probably 90 percent of it. You can ask them, but they’ll tell you I’m fluent.”

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    Altuve and Bregman celebrated after winning the American League Championship Series. In the tight-knit Astros clubhouse, the high-energy, Spanish-speaking Bregman bounces around everywhere.CreditElsa/Getty Images
    His teammates’ verdict?

    “He speaks it pretty well, at least better than you think,” said Altuve, who speaks English well, just like Correa and Gonzalez. “When I first met him, he didn’t speak much. But he’s learning more every day, so be careful what you say in front of him.”

    Francisco Liriano, a veteran Astros pitcher who is from the Dominican Republic, grinned when asked about Bregman’s Spanish. “He sounds like an American, but he knows a good amount,” he said.

    Beltran lauded Bregman’s confidence and desire to learn a new language, a trait Beltran said would help Bregman not only with Spanish but throughout his career on the baseball field.

    “The most important thing is that he tries,” said Beltran, who spoke in Spanish for this article, as did the other Latino players who were interviewed. “He’s not afraid to express himself. He makes me laugh a few times because it’s funny the words he uses, good and bad words. Words you hear and you think, ‘Oh, wow, how cool that he knows this word.’”

    Bregman is so enthusiastic about his language endeavor that he has done conducted brief interviews in Spanish with Francisco Romero, a Spanish-language radio broadcaster for Astros games.

    In an interview two weeks ago with Romero during the postseason, Bregman called a home run against the Boston Red Sox “a dream for me and my family” in Spanish, then mixed in some English when he could not remember how to say “a blessing.” The sentences were not complete, and there were a few mistakes, but he tried and he smiled.

    Earlier in the season, Romero recorded Bregman singing along in Spanish to “Ginza,” a popular reggaeton song by the Colombian artist J. Balvin. Because Altuve is well known in the Astros’ clubhouse for singing along to music, Bregman wanted to do it, too.

    Hanging out with his Latino teammates, Bregman said, has given him an appreciation for reggaeton (“we all listen to it in the clubhouse all the time”) and for carne asada, a staple of Latin American cuisines. It’s all part of his learning process.
     
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  2. RedRedemption

    RedRedemption 대한민국, 화이팅!
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    How can anyone not love this man?
     
  3. whag00

    whag00 Contributing Member

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    Respect that throw home.
     
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  4. zeeshan2

    zeeshan2 Member

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  5. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    Keep thanking Brady Aiken...
     
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  6. The Real Shady

    The Real Shady Contributing Member

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    Probably wouldn't have a World Series championship and the Astros would have two #1 overall drafted pitchers that never made it to the majors if he decided to take their low ball offer. He got Luhnowed.
     
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  7. theimpossibles1

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  8. asianballa23

    asianballa23 Member

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    he wanted to learn Spanish in order to communicate with Hispanic teammates? hmmm... thought should be the other way around?
     
  9. YOLO

    YOLO Member

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    why would learning another teammate's primary language be the opposite way of doing things
     
  10. Buck Turgidson

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    Why is it that asianbaseballas use translators far more often than their latin counterparts, %wise?
     
  11. YOLO

    YOLO Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  12. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    Asianballa has a history of racist comments regarding Hispanics.
     
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  13. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Contributing Member
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    So according to Fangraphs WAR, Bregman's 2018 season is already the 5th best season among Astros position players 24 or younger and will likely end up 3rd. What happened to Cesar Cedeno? He has the best 2 (and 3 of the 4 best) seasons ever for Astros 24 and under (Wynn is the other guy). Not that he was a bad player after 24, but the start of his career is comparable to guys like Mike Trout, Alex Rodriguez, and Babe Ruth in fWAR.
     
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  14. Air Langhi

    Air Langhi Contributing Member

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    Who were other leaders? I am guessing bagwell is one of them.
     
  15. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    Killing his GF probably didn't help. And supposedly dealt with several injuries. I too have often wondered about seemingly the most talented Astros player of all-time.
     
  16. Buck Turgidson

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    Weird story, the police said she accidentally shot herself. Prosecutors wanted to dismiss the charges.

    https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=hxldAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hloNAAAAIBAJ&dq=cesar cedeno manslaughter&pg=2475,1281100

    This is all unsourced from the internet, but still interesting:

    As the story goes, Cesar had his share of problems with the ladies. He got married as a teenager to a Puerto Rican woman and they had a child together. They eventually got divorced and he married an American woman named Cora. While married to Cora he apparently patronized prostitutes, who sometimes robbed him of his money and jewelry (hey, I never said the guy was smart). For protection he began packing a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson.

    In addition to all of this he also had a mistress. She was 19 and her name was Altagracia de la Cruz. On the night of December 11, 1973 they checked into the Keki Motel in the poor section of Santa Domingo while his wife was at their winter home, which was also in Santo Domingo. While in the motel room they had been drinking and the events that happened next are fuzzy. Alta had picked up Cedeño’s gun to look at it and he then attempted to get the gun away from her. For some reason she would not give the gun back to him and they began wrestling over it. The gun went off and Altagracia was found slumped on the floor with a bullet in her head.

    Then, and remember I never said the guy was smart, Cedeño fled the crime scene in his car and didn’t turn himself in until 8 hours later. He insisted that while she was looking at the gun it accidentally went off and killer her. Cedeño was charged with voluntary manslaughter (which in the USA is equal to 2nd degree murder) and since it happened just weeks before Christmas he did not have the greatest holiday season. He spent the holidays in jail with four other men accused of homicide.

    After spending 20 days in jail, the postmortem paraffin test (I just wanted to use the words “postmortem paraffin” in a sentence together) showed that Cedeño was not lying about the incident. Altagracia had indeed pulled the trigger. Charges were then reduced to involuntary manslaughter. The maximum sentence in his country for this crime was three years in jail but Cedeño’s punishment was to pay a fine of 100 pesos. Cedeño was back in the USA the following March for Spring Training, acting as if nothing happened (though the fans didn’t let him forget the incident, often shouting things at him from the stands such as “Murderer!”, and “Who are you going to kill next?!”)

    While Cedeño insisted that this incident would not change his career or affect his playing in any way, it of course did. I can’t think of anyone, especially someone as young as Cedeño, to go through something like that and come out unaffected. In fact, Cedeño would play for 13 more years but he would only hit over .300 once and after 1974 he would never his more than 20 home runs in a season again. He was a good player but his potential for being a great player died that night in the Keki Motel.

    If this had been Cedeño’s only brush with the law it could have been said he made one major mistake in life, but violent incidents were a frequent thing for Cesar. In 1985 he was arguing with his girlfriend (another one) and ran his Mercedes into a tree in Houston. He then got violent with the police, refusing a breathalyzer and attempting to kick out the windows of the police car. In 1987, his first year out of baseball, a man bumped up against him in a bar and Cedeño smashed a glass into his face. He was charged with assault and resisting arrest. In 1988 he attacked his then girlfriend (another one) in Webster, Texas. The girl ran outside with their 4 month old baby and Cesar ran outside, snatched the baby and drove away. He returned shortly thereafter, beat the girl up again. It took four policemen to get him into the patrol car. He was charged with assault, causing bodily injury and resisting arrest.

    In this day and age of players with ego (Barry Bonds) and temper problems (Jeff Kent destroying a water cooler) it all sounds like small potatoes to the destruction that a true asshole like Cesar Cedeño wreaked. I’ll never look at that 1972 baseball card of his the same ever again.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20130715011327/http://www.generalissimo.com/chinmusic/inside/cedeno.html


    So basically his downfall was women.
     
    #16 Buck Turgidson, Aug 20, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  17. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    Kinda makes Osuna seem like a stand-up guy.
     
  18. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Contributing Member
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    You make mention of one oddity not expecting there to actually being a story....

    Wow. I was not expecting that.
     
  19. PhiSlammaJamma

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    I've been fascinated to see that 8/10 of the Texas little leaguers picked Bregman as their favorite player. Not Altuve. Not Correa. Not Springer. Not Verlander. Bregman. So what's behind that...
     
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  20. mikol13

    mikol13 Contributing Member
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