What seperates the Phillies from the rest of the National League East?
A young, talented, power pitcher to start.
The Mets have Matt Harvey, starting the All-Star Game for the NL in front of his home crowd.
The Nationals have Stephen Strasburg. Need I say more?
And the Marlins have Jose Fernandez, the 20-year-old Cuban defector and lone All-Star from Miami.
Last week, I heard an interview with Fernandez on The Dan LeBatard Show on 790 The Ticket in Miami, and like everyone else listening, I immediately fell in love with him. His story is touching, and his demeanor and attitude makes him incredibly easy to root for.
During the interview, he touched on everything from being laughed at during baseball tryouts his first year at high school in Tampa - at least until he hit a few balls out and topped 90 MPH on the gun - to how he was in awe when facing guys like Ryan Howard for the first time. Yes, he specifically mentioned Howard, and then talked about striking him out on a 3-2 curveball.
LeBatard followed up that interview with an amazing story in today's Miami Herald. I suggest reading the entire thing, but one part about the Phillies was quite interesting.
Hernandez's grandmother, who still lives in Cuba because the government won't allow her to leave, listens to all of his games on the roof of her home, because that's the only place she can get radio reception.
That, however, is not enough to stop her from giving the Marlins pitcher scouting reports. Here's a sample:
José calls his grandmother “the love of my life ...She’s my everything,” he said. “There’s nothing more important than her.” So he enjoys getting the scouting reports from her in their near-daily phone calls.
“She tells me, ‘The Phillies are good, but you are better,’ ” José said. “She says, ‘Here’s the game plan: We’re going to go at them hard and away, and low. Stay down in the zone. Breaking balls in the dirt, but not too many because those are bad for the arm.’ I told her the other day that they have me throwing 95 to 100 pitches a game, and she screamed, ‘What?!’ I don’t think she knows I’m 6-3, 230 pounds now. She still sees me as 15 years old.”