Another path to success

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By Joel Panes

Optic Yellow

Monday, May 12, 2014

WATCHING Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers lose an opportunity to record a no hitter against the Boston Red Sox in last week’s Major League Baseball game was a heart breaker. His perfect game as a pitcher was foiled by a squeaker through second base off the bat of Papi Ortiz, one of last year’s heroes in the MLB World Series Championship against the St. Louis Cardinals.

To write about Yu Darvish, an unknown to most is to write about an enviable journey any batted ball player can make from insignificance to global prominence. According to Wikipedia, Yu Darvish was born in Habikinu, Osaka to an Iranian father and a Japanese mother. He started playing baseball in Japan from the 2nd grade and throughout high school. He was later drafted as the first round pick by the Hokkaido Nippo-Ham Fighter and paid a base salary of Y15 million or about US$150,000. There was interest from teams in Major League Baseball but Yu Darwish chose to stay and play in Japan. In 2012, he finally decided to join the US Majors and the Texas Rangers president and baseball’s pitching legend Nolan Ryan signed him.

Standing 6’5” and 220 lbs, he could have been a basketball player. I mean, had he been born a Filipino where the average male height in the Philippines is about 164 centimetres or about 5’4”, he would have been nudged by friends, school mates and neighbours to try his fortunes in hoop land. There is however something unique and special about the presence of an opportunity for young people to consider and the game was available for him to play. His baseball talent, peer support and competitive environment gave him wings to be among the best and to play in the best.


We cannot say that of ourselves in general. Most programs espoused by government, schools or institutions do not have a map to take the youth higher into the life’s ladder. Education is mighty good and can elevate one’s status in life. Not all are however destined for academic glory. Degrees and diplomas have increased the chances of being hired and has enabled many to liberate themselves from the clutches of poverty. Still the possession of a diploma never guarantees success. A different kind of success awaits many and this paradigm may not necessarily driven by the attainment of academic degrees and titles.

At the present time, I think government owes to the people to explore ways and means to provide opportunities to develop talents through sports. For years, we have been taught the youth’s engagement in sports and recreation activities takes him away from the influences of dangerous drugs peddled by drug pushers. Ironically, no one has had the courage to publicly declare success in a sports discipline can also elevate one’s financial status in life. Most believe this might be a random event. That notion notwithstanding, it is an unorthodox paradigm still worthy of consideration.

For all our reliance in government, to government we have to plead in the midst of scant resources, it must provide sports opportunities closer to the people. Concrete roads look great but there is no point in replacing the concrete when the road still looks good. Barangay sports fests and city wide sporting events are great for recreation and increasing political patronage but beyond the activities, nothing much else follows. My prayer is - something concretely developmental must follow.

Sadly for now, Baguio may not be in a position to produce a Yu Darvish yet but it could. Perhaps, a good start would be an act by the esteemed city council to begin by granting and dedicate land for a pair of baseball and softball diamonds. They need a place to play and even call their own.

Wildly, it may be an even a better idea to create a Cordillera Baseball and Softball League. This may cost a few millions which the wizards of Cordilleran autonomy can afford to finance. The formation of this league could even be a litmus test of the viability of an autonomous Cordillera region. The gathering of many regions to play the game would be a sight to behold. No province can host this tournament better now but Benguet.

The grant for a playing field for Baguio batted balls or the quixotic dream of forming a Cordilleras Batted Ball League may not immediately produce the Darvish Yu or some other softball icon I desire for Baguio and Cordilleras but it will be a good way to jumpstart the game. Perhaps someone can start translating this vision to fruition.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 13, 2014.


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