Joe Santoro: 16-year-old baseball phenom wise to leave high school early
June 19, 2009
The world is not coming to an end, fireballs are not going to fall from the sky and drop into your living room and the sun, moon and stars arenand#8217;t packing up and moving to Jupiter. A 16-year-old kid decided he wanted to give up his final two years of high school and go to a junior college and play baseball. Thatand#8217;s it. So, go ahead. Stick your head outside your door. Take a peak at the sun. Heck, you might even hear a bird chirping or a dog barking. The world survived yet another sports disaster. Imagine that.
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Bryce Harperand#8217;s decision to leave Las Vegas High after his sophomore year would be a huge mistake for most kids. But you must understand that Harper is an athletic freak. When he was born a lightning bolt came down from the heavens and energized his body and his father whittled a magic bat out of the old oak tree in the backyard and gave it to him at Christmas. So letand#8217;s get one thing straight. Your kid is not Bryce Harper. I donand#8217;t care what your 8-year-oldand#8217;s hitting coach is telling you. He should be telling you that you are an idiot for paying someone to teach your 8-year-old how to swing a bat. But thatand#8217;s another story for another Friday Fodder. So, remember, your kid is not Bryce Harper. So donand#8217;t get any ideas.
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Have you purchased your Western Nevada College season tickets already so you can watch Harper at John L. Harvey Field in 2010? You donand#8217;t want to miss him. Harper will destroy junior college pitching. Heand#8217;ll breeze through his College of Southern Nevada classes. The kid will be in the big leagues at 19. So, what, exactly, is the negative attached to his decision? Donand#8217;t forget the added bonus of getting out of Las Vegas a year earlier. That, alone, makes it a smart decision. And, oh yeah, thereand#8217;s the little matter of earning a $25 million bonus check a year from now when heand#8217;s selected in the first round of the major league baseball amateur draft. We should all make such horrible decisions in life.
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Hereand#8217;s hoping Nevada Wolf Pack basketball player Luke Babbitt noticed that Notre Dameand#8217;s Luke Harangody pulled out of the NBA draft last week to stay at Notre Dame for his senior year. The comparisons between the two Lukes are eerie. They are both from the Midwest (Harangody is from Indiana and Babbitt is from Ohio). They are both about 6-foot-8, they both play power forward, they both are offensive machines, they both outwork everybody else on the floor and they both have always played the game with an unbelievable maturity and intelligence. A word of warning . . . A web site (draftexpress.com) has already named Babbitt as the No. 9 player in the second round of the 2010 NBA draft. Donand#8217;t you just love the internet?
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How do you not pick 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft? A shot-blocking, rebounding monster like Thabeet comes around once every five years or so. Thereand#8217;s always a Blake Griffin, Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry, Jonny Flynn or James Harden in every draft. The Sacramento Kings should give the Los Angeles Clippers any six players on their roster and their No. 4 pick for the top pick so they can get Thabeet.
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Sammy Sosa used performance-enhancing drugs? Maybe the world is coming to an end after all. The media, major league baseball, the players and their agents need to understand one thing when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs. We donand#8217;t care. We donand#8217;t care who did it and who didnand#8217;t do it. As far as weand#8217;re concerned, they all did it. Who cares? Weand#8217;ve never cared. Itand#8217;s just sports. Athletes cheat. Politicians lie. Mothers-In-Law nag. Get used to it. All we care about is our favorite players doing well and our favorite teams winning. Thatand#8217;s it. So stop talking about it.
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The thing that nobody wants to talk about when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs is how they saved the game. Take away Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and all the rest of the chemically enhanced robo-hitters during the 1998-2003 baseball revitalization era and, well, baseball would be the new hockey by now.
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If you are the San Francisco Giants, are you a buyer or a seller at the July 31 trade deadline? Believe it or not, the Giants are actually in the wild card race. A hitter or three or four would be nice to insert in that offensively challenged lineup. So how about trading Randy Johnson for someone who can hit a little? Hereand#8217;s an idea. The Giants could sign Bryce Harper. Who needs junior college? Who needs a driverand#8217;s license? The kid can hit.
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The best sports story of the week was Troy Aikman taking part in his UCLA graduation ceremony. It only took Aikman two decades but he somehow overcame Michael Irvin, Jerry Jones and Leon Lett to finally get his sociology degree and the honor of wearing his cap and gown. But all ESPN told us this week was that Sammy Sosa failed a drug test.
and#8212; Joe Santoro writes a weekly column for the Sierra Nevada Media Group.
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