It has been a while since I have done an opinion piece on the Detroit Tigers but what I saw earlier in the week sparked me in a certain way.
When speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, Detroit Tigers reliever Gregory Soto was asked about his two clutch innings in relief against the Twins on Tuesday afternoon which produced this big moment.
From MLive.com, here’s his quote:
"“(The emotion) comes from inside of me,” he said in Spanish. “I’m a very charismatic guy. I try to enjoy the game. If a position player gets an RBI, he enjoys it. As pitchers, if we get a strikeout or a really important out, we show some emotion and everybody focuses on that. Not every pitcher shows emotion, but when I have the opportunity to show it, I’m going to show it.“We also have the right to show emotion. When Juan Soto takes a pitch, he walks forward and moves his feet, and people celebrate that. But if the pitcher did something similar, the pitcher would be criticized. Every individual should be able to enjoy the game as they like.”"
While it may seem unusual for him to have this opinion come out from seemly “nowhere”, it could come frustration which if you think about it, makes total sense.
Most Hispanic ballplayers when they come to this country, struggle with language barriers that exist. Often, they are misunderstood because they can’t express themselves in the way they truly want to.
While Soto’s frustration seems to stem from how pitchers can’t express themselves like hitters can, growing up in a house where both of my parents while learning the English language, struggled to articulate themselves in the workplace or saying their names correctly.
My mother’s name was “Hipolita” but for the sake of her workplace, she went by “Poly”. Now, clearly, the name example I mentioned here may not exactly be an apples-to-apples comparison, heck, even my real name “Rogelio”, goes through the same type of thing but the point I am making is simply after a while, it wears on someone, no matter where you come from, the constant questioning of who you are and why you do this or why his hair is red versus the team colors, it can wear anyone down, regardless of where you come from.
I am not sure why emotion and self-expression are so frowned upon in baseball. Even with the recent case of Nick Castellanos in Cincinnati, the guy was stoked after a big play and he got suspended….right…
I wanted to draw an interesting possible “history repeating itself” coming about when it comes to Gregory Soto and one former closer in Tigers history and that is Guillermo Hernandez. Both were starters in the minors and lefties and even Hernandez would make 11 starts in his MLB career before going to the bullpen.
Soto’s wipeout slider is a completely different pitch than Hernandez’s screwball and of course, Hernandez is from a different era, so fastball velocities are night and day but there is one common thread that they have in common. They are both proud men with personalities that Tigers fans appreciate.
If Soto can continue to build off his performance, he can be the anchor that Hernandez once was for the Tigers.