Yordano Ventura’s death on Sunday morning in the Dominican Republic sent shock wave through baseball, and it wasn’t just fans and players who remembered the player nicknamed Ace.
National baseball writers also shared their thoughts and insights on the all-too-brief career of Ventura, who was 25. Here is a sampling of what others wrote.
From former Kansas City Star sports columnist Joe Posnanski, who is now with MLB.com:
A breathtaking fastball, as every baseball fan knows, is only a part of the dream. Every organization has Minor League pitchers who can throw hard. There are so many other things a young pitcher needs. He must control the fastball — that is, throw strikes. He must command the fastball, which is harder because it means throwing the right kinds of strikes, out of the middle of the plate. He must develop another pitch because if a Major League hitter knows without any doubt a 98 mph fastball is coming, there’s a good chance he will crush it.
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And then there is something else too, something harder to describe. He must love to compete, love to be at the center of things, love it all so much that he never stops trying to get better. Yordano Ventura was born with that gift.
Ventura and Fernandez are forever linked in their tragic passing, if only because of the small window of time in which the fatalities occurred. More substantively, the two young athletes are linked by a special spirit within them, a power to move people with their charisma and artistry. The Spanish have a word for this power: duende. The word derives literally from the Spanish word for goblin or ghost, but in meaning conveys a soulful magnetism that captivates people. These young men, gone too soon, will be remembered for tener duende, both in times when they had a baseball in their right hand, and when they did not.
From Yahoo Sports columnist Jeff Passan, a former Star writer:
He refused to oblige anyone’s customs. It’s why so many in baseball thought him a punk. Cursing out Adam Eaton, plunking Manny Machado, beefing with Jose Bautista — no sacred cows existed with Ventura, a bold place to be in a sport that’s a veritable bovine factory. Ventura had no time for that. He came from a place accessible by dirt roads, laden with potholes, wreathed with shacks, ravaged by poverty. His father split up with his mother and left for Germany when he was young, leaving him to play dutiful male. He made it, then he became rich, then he lived his life like he thought a rich man should.
The Royals often described Ventura as “fearless,” and in the end, perhaps that was undoing. Again, it’s too soon for such reflection. Just know this: That was no punk on the mound. That was a pitcher who exuded joy playing the game he loved, who eventually was going to figure it out.
Adding Ventura, 25, to the list of major talents gone too young in similar circumstances has sent baseball into mourning once again and prompted calls for the game to take measures to avoid future tragedies of this kind. Ventura’s career record of 38-31 with a 3.89 ERA only hinted at his potential for greatness that will never be realized.