Saturday, May 12, 2012

Darin Mastroianni in Major League Baseball

By Richard K. Barry

Since last year, I have been having some fun following the baseball career of Darin Mastroianni, here and here. My interest stems from the fact that I knew Darin's dad, Paul, when we grew up together just north of New York City. We were great pals in school when we were very young, literally grade school. We never stayed close after that, but Paul was always one of the good guys, and I was very happy for him when I found out his son was having success playing ball. Paul and I exchanged brief Facebook messages when I heard about it.

What made it more interesting for me is that Darin played much of his minor league career in the Toronto Blue Jays system. I moved to Toronto many years ago and thought it might be great to see him at the Rogers Centre should he make it that far.

As it turned out, Darin made it up to the Major League Blue Jays club for just one game last year and was subsequently dealt to the Minnesota Twins before the regular season began this year. He started in their minor league system as well but was called up a few days ago. And, because baseball is like that, he started his Major League career with the Twins in a game against the Jays.

Last night, I got a chance to watch him play, at least on television, for the very first time. I really enjoyed it. Conflicted though I was, as a Jays fan, I watched as Darin went 2 for 4, and drove in 3 runs to help beat Toronto 7-6. This was Darin's first Major League hit, by the way. My wife, also a long-time Jays fan, said it was okay to root for Darin on a personal level but that it was not okay that the Jays lost. What can I say?

The Twins have put Mastroianni in right field as part of their new look to shake things up. They are, sad to say, currently the worst team in baseball. Darin had been batting .346 at Triple-A Rochester, so I am sure the Twins are hoping he can help. He's a not a power guy, but he's fast and exciting so let's see where this goes.

One press report had this to say about Mastroianni's performance:

Mastroianni clapped his hands and yelled to himself after both of his hits. It was a rare display of excitement and jubilation in what has been a miserable season for the Twins, baseball's worst team so far.

"Just to be in the books that you got a hit in the big leagues, for it to be such an important one is something I can't imagine," said Mastroianni, who played one game with Toronto last season. "The second one was just as big as the first one."

I always think about that scene in Bull Durham when Crash Davis is trying to teach "Nuke" LaLoosh how to talk to the press when he gets to the big team. "We gotta play 'em one game at a time. I just wanna give it my best shot. Good Lord willin,' things'll work out."

That's just great. I cannot imagine how excited Darin must be and how excited his family must be for him. Professional sports are "just a game," but they also involve a lot of people's lives, personal stories, hopes, aspirations and all that stuff.

It was good to see young Mastroianni in the "bigs." I'm sure his father, Paul, is very proud.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost,)

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