Entertainment

Veronica Alvarez Is The Coach For The Oakland A’s And Her Presence Is Giving Girls A Chance To Pursue Baseball

Whether or not you’re a big fan of baseball, Veronica Alvarez is a name you’ll want to keep on your radar. Hired as coach of the Oakland A’s earlier this year, Alvarez has had an impressive Major League baseball career—and it’s only getting better. As a catcher, coach, and California firefighter, Alvarez totally represents the limitless roles that badass Latinas can fill.

A first-generation Cuban-American, her traditional upbringing discouraged Alvarez from playing baseball. Her family did not support the idea that it was a sport for girls, but Alvarez still served as the bat girl for her brother’s team until she was old enough to join the Little League. And despite their attempts to pique her interest in more “feminine” activities, like ballet, her parents let her take this first step toward her passion. “For a Hispanic girl to be able to do whatever she wants—that’s not a norm, unfortunately. I’m very thankful to my parents for that, and for never limiting what I could accomplish,” Alvarez told Major League Baseball.

However, many women who grow up playing baseball in the U.S.—including Alvarez—switch to softball, due to a lack of infrastructure supporting women’s baseball at the collegiate level.

Credit: USA Baseball

It’s estimated that of 100,000 girls who play Little League baseball, only 1,000 continue with the sport until high school. From that point on, at the collegiate and professional levels, women more commonly play softball, so for those players who may be eligible to attend college on an athletic scholarship, the transition from baseball to softball makes a lot of sense. Alvarez was no exception to this trend—her switch to softball earned her a scholarship to play Division I ball at Villanova University, as well as an opportunity to spend a summer playing on a professional team in Spain.

Even after years of playing and excelling at softball, Alvarez could not stop thinking about her original dream: to dominate the baseball field. “I always felt like I was more of a baseball player playing softball than a softball player,” she told Bitch Media. “In baseball, there’s a game within the game, more strategy, more situational plays.” After returning from Spain in 2006, Alvarez searched for ways to reenter the world of baseball. She initially sought out The Silver Bullets, an all-female professional baseball team that played from 1994-1997. When she discovered that they no longer existed, she came upon the U.S. Women’s National Baseball Team (USWNT). She tried out for the USWNT in 2008, and has since played on the 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2016 teams (she missed 2014 because she had just been hired as a firefighter, and the start date of this position was the same week as the tournament).

Since she first became involved with the USWNT, she has coached the USWNT team and collaborated with Major League Baseball (MLB) to create more opportunities for female baseball players around the country. She was also the only woman to coach at Spring Training this year.

When speaking to Major League Baseball about her Spring Training experience, Alvarez said, “I’m trying to show girls and women that you can accomplish everything … for every little girl that has a dream to be involved in the game, to let them know that it’s a possibility, that you just have to set your mind to it and work hard.”

She doesn’t just talk the talk—Alvarez walks the walk. In April, she helped facilitate MLB’s Trailblazer Series, a tournament in California that brings girls together to play their sport with support and solidarity. Add to that the Breakthrough Series for girls and the MLB Grit high-school baseball tournament, and you’ve got a sure-fire way to provide young female players with opportunities for development and a channel through which to be scouted for the USWNT. “They come to these events and they see that women play the game, that they’re accomplished and well-rounded,” said Alvarez. “I think it’s so cool that everyone’s there to kind of promote accomplishing your dreams no matter what.”

Alvarez aims to continue developing infrastructure for female baseball players to achieve their dreams. While there is a (more or less) clear career trajectory for men in baseball, many girls don’t realize that there is a Major League team just waiting for them, and Alvarez wants to change that. “I want the girls to know we exist,” Alvarez said. “Not for our fame, but for them just to have that kind of sense of security that they’re not different from others, just because they like a game that girls don’t usually play.” As a pioneering figure with a dearth of experience under her belt, Alvarez is the perfect person to lead the way for new generations of girls in baseball.

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The Young Girl Struck By A Foul Ball Last Year By Cubs Player Has Permanent Brain Damage

Entertainment

The Young Girl Struck By A Foul Ball Last Year By Cubs Player Has Permanent Brain Damage

albertalmorajr / Instagram

There is terrible news concerning a two-year-old girl that was struck by a foul ball during an Astros game at Minute Maid Park last May. According to an attorney representing her family, the young girl sustained permanent brain damage from the injury and continues to receive anti-seizure medication. Her family fears the injury could put her at risk of seizures for the rest of her life. “She has an injury to a part of the brain, and it is permanent,” attorney Richard Mithoff told the Houston Chronicle. “She remains subject to seizures and is on medication and will be, perhaps, for the rest of her life. That may or may not be resolved.”

The line drive foul ball came off the bat of Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, who was visibly in shock when he saw that the young girl was injured. “It’s opened my eyes to other things,” Almora told the AP a few days after the incident. “I never want it to happen again.”

The young girl, whose identity has not been released, was sitting on her grandfather’s lap seated right next to third base, an area that had no net protection. The foul ball made its way into the stands and struck her in the back of the head. 

The extent of the injury revealed that the girl’s central nervous system was certainly affected by the brain injury, in a way that bears similarities to that of a stroke, doctors said. This part of the brain when injured can cause “seizures, loss of spatial awareness and loss of sensation.” The girl’s parents reported that she has had “periods of unresponsiveness and staring spells, frequent headaches and night terrors,” since the incident. 

When the injury initially happened, the girl had a fractured skull and suffered a seizure. She would also endure associated subdural bleeding, brain contusions, and brain edema. As of now, there has been no notice of any legal action taken against the Astros organization or whether the family intends to do so. NBC reports that the girl’s family has paid for all of her medical bills. 

“She is able to continue with much of her routine as a girl her age would do, but her parents have to be particularly vigilant, as they are,” Mithoff said. “She has wonderful parents and is receiving wonderful care. They obviously are concerned, but she is blessed with a family that is doing relatively well, considering everything.”

If there are any positives to come out of this is Major League Baseball being pushed to take action on fan safety. Just last month, it made the announcement that “all 30 clubs will have netting in place that extends substantially beyond the far end of the dugout.” 

After the incident, the Astors replaced netting and expanded it from foul line to foul line in August, following the same moves by the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals in July. The move to extend netting took years and multiple fan injuries for MLB to take action.

In December, MLB finally made the announcement that all 30 clubs would have extended netting in time for the 2020 season. Seven ballparks will have extended netting from foul pole to foul pole and 15 will extend nets to the where the stands angle away from the field of play. The other eight ballparks will have netting that extends “substantially beyond the far end of the dugout,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said. 

“There’s a lot of kids coming to the games — young kids who want to watch us play, and the balls come in hard,” Kris Bryant, Almora’s teammate said after the incident. “I mean, the speed of the game is quick, and I think any safety measure we can take to make sure that the fans are safe, we should do it.”

The issue of ballpark safety has been a hot topic issue in recent years as the number of fans being struck in the stands has increased. According to an NBC News investigation last October, there had been at least 808 reports of injuries to fans from baseballs from 2012 to 2019. Some of those injuries included concussions and permanent vision loss. 

“The family is gratified by the announcement from Major League Baseball that the netting will be extended in all 30 ballparks,” Mithoff said. “This is obviously a very significant step forward.”

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A Drug Kingpin Accused Of Ordering The Shooting Of David Ortiz Was Arrested In Colombia For Drug Smuggling

Entertainment

A Drug Kingpin Accused Of Ordering The Shooting Of David Ortiz Was Arrested In Colombia For Drug Smuggling

davidortiz / Instagram

A Dominican drug kingpin was arrested in Colombia, just hours before an international flight, and it’s raising questions about his connection to the shooting of baseball legend David “Big Papi” Ortiz. “César the Abuser” Emilio Peralta had arrived by yacht from the Dominican Republic to Cartagena, Colombia, where authorities arrested him in Bocagrande, a wealthy neighborhood in the country’s entertainment capital. Peralta became known as one of the Dominican Republic’s most powerful drug kingpins, operating a drug trafficking scheme to move heroin and cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela through the Dominican Republic and the United States. His operation was so significant, the FBI had offered a $100,000 reward for any information leading to his arrest, which Peralta had been evading since August 2018.

Peralta has passionately denied any involvement in Ortiz’s shooting. 

CREDIT: @ANARIDIS / TWITTER

“David is like my brother. We were neighbors for four years. I have never been with one of David’s women and David was never involved with any of mine. When David comes from out there [the United States] he brings me my perfume, my gift, my sneakers. David is crazy with my children. My children love him,” Peralta reportedly said in an audio recording.

Meanwhile, Ortiz’s spokesman, Joe Baerlein told The New York Post that Ortiz sold his condo after he saw “Peralta’s thugs hanging out in the building.” The conflicting reports have led to questions about Peralta’s involvement in Ortiz’s shooting.

Rumors spread that Ortiz was involved in a love triangle with Peralta that reached a breaking point the day before his shooting.

CREDIT: @PORTAZONA / TWITTER

The local paper, El Dominicano, reported that Ortiz had bought Peralta’s girlfriend, Dominican model Maria Yeribell Martinez Garcia, a luxury Lexus SUV. The June 8 report included an alleged ownership pink slip in Martinez Garcia’s name along with a check signed by Ortiz. On June 9, Ortiz was shot several times in the back while enjoying a drink at the Dial Bar and Lounge in East Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Ortiz immediately underwent a 6-hour surgery, during which portions of his intestines, colon, and his entire gallbladder were removed. On June 10, the Red Sox sent a medical flight to bring Ortiz for two more surgeries at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

At the hospital, Martinez Garcia was captured on video fighting with another woman, Fary Almanzar Fernandez, in the waiting room for Ortiz. Ortiz’s spokesman told The New York Post that Ortiz “considers her a friend and he has been seen with her at public places with other people around,” and that El Papi did not buy her a car.

Peralta has not been formally charged in any connection to Ortiz’s shooting.

CREDIT: @HJTHEREALJ / TWITTER

The Daily Mail reports that Peralta was captured on video surveillance walking outside the medical facility in the “moments after” Ortiz’s shooting. Authorities have emphasized that Ortiz was not the intended target of the attempted assassination, but rather was ordered by Mexican drug lord Victor Hugo Gomez Vasquez and intended for his cousin, Sixto David Fernández. Remarkably, the shooter shot Ortiz because he was wearing white pants, which resembled the blurry photo of the intended mark, which was obscured by a white object. Gomez Vasquez was arrested on June 28, along with Alberto Miguel Rodriguez Mota, who allegedly took that fateful photo of Ortiz and Fernández.

Ortiz was released from Mass. General six weeks after his shooting, and was still unable to eat food. 

Peralta’s two-decade reign over his Latin American cocaine and heroin trafficking trade seems to be over.

CREDIT: @ANARIDIS / TWITTER

Puerto Rican FBI officials say that Peralta had been conducting an illicit drug trade since 1997. In 2000, Peralta was arrested in Santo Domingo for possessing more than four kilos of cocaine. In 2007, he was linked to a 215 kilos shipment of cocaine, but not convicted. The United States announced charges against Peralta in August and raided 40 properties linked to Peralta, including the condo that once shared the same building as Ortiz’s residence. 

“Cesar Emilio Peralta and his criminal organization have used violence and corruption in the Dominican Republic to traffic tons of cocaine and opioids into the United States and Europe. Treasury is targeting these Dominican drug kingpins, their front persons, and the nightclubs they have used to launder money and traffic women,” the Terrorism and Financial Intelligence agency said in a statement. Two MLB players were arrested and later released for allegedly laundering Peralta’s drug money. Officials state that more information will be released later.

READ: Authorities Identify Person Of Interest In Planned Shooting Of David Ortiz