Phil Valentine, Conservative Radio Host Who Regretted Vaccine Skepticism, Dies of COVID


Slate 22 August, 2021 - 08:37am 10 views

Conservative Radio Host Phil Valentine, Who Had Been Skeptical Of Vaccine, Dies Of COVID

The Chattanoogan 22 August, 2021 - 04:20pm

Andrew Velazquez had 113 plate appearances in 68 games for three major-league teams from 2018-20 before signing with the Yankees last winter.

Not once did he hit a home run.

So of course the Bronx native, who grew up a Yankees fan and played at nearby Fordham Prep, stepped to the plate in the eighth inning Saturday and added another amazing chapter to this storybook segment of his career.

Velazquez turned on a first-pitch, 92-mph fastball from Twins reliever Ralph Garza Jr. and pulled it roughly 10 rows deep into the rightfield seats. Total distance: 359 feet.

As Velazquez watched the ball’s flight, his smile widened. Up in the stands, a few members of his family shed tears of joy.

With the eventual 7-1 victory already in hand, the Yankees didn’t need late-inning heroics from Velazquez this time. But this was an emotional bonus that felt tough to put into words, adding to this remarkable homecoming stretch from the kid next door.

By clicking Sign up, you agree to our privacy policy.

Velazquez became the sixth New York-born Yankee to homer for the team since 1993. He joined Tim Locastro, who went deep on July 11.

"Some guy on deck kept screaming at me that I should hit my first one here," Velazquez said. "Every at-bat I got on deck, he was screaming at me, ‘Get the first one! Down the line!’ So I went 0-for-3 before that, and then on the final one, I said, 'Let me take his approach because mine ain’t working.' "

What could have been a disappointing day personally turned out to be magical instead. Velazquez mentioned that he hurried around the bases to get to celebrating with his teammates, but the physics of bashing forearms can be a little challenging for a 5-9, 170-pound shortstop — even one whose feet don’t feel as if they’re touching the ground.

"We didn’t want to knock him over," Luke Voit said, laughing. "Good for him, man. That was a really special moment for all of us — and for him, too."

It was only fitting that retrieving the baseball turned out to be a snap for the Bronx kid, too. Sometimes wrangling the ball away from a fan who catches it takes some negotiating. Maybe a swap for a signed bat or jersey. Possibly multiple items, depending on the prize.

But not this time. Getting the ball back was a breeze. "Whoever it was — thank you," Velazquez said.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the sentimental nature of this Bronx tale, Velazquez isn’t merely a novelty act for these Yankees. He’s not some late-season call-up for a team playing out the schedule. They’ve needed him, and Velazquez has responded in a way no one in the organization could have predicted.

Through 13 games, the switch hitter is batting .242 (8-for-33) with six RBIs. Not bad for a glove-first addition, and with the Yankees’ penchant for nail-biters, his defensive ability already has helped secure a game or two — most notably the ridiculous web gem that ended Tuesday’s sweep-clinching win over the Red Sox.

"It’s been really special," said Gerrit Cole, who grew up a Yankees fan himself, although on the West Coast. "I feel really fortunate to be able to share those emotions with him and watch him flourish on the biggest stage and fulfill his dream.

"Not to mention that it’s propelled us to several wins, to say the least. I can’t imagine what his family is going through right now and I’m thankful that he’s playing really well for us."

The Yankees are 11-2 in games in which Velazquez has appeared, including nine starts.

It took some extraordinarily bad luck from the team’s standpoint to get Velazquez here from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre, as the Yankees lost Gleyber Torres (thumb sprain) and Gio Urshela (hamstring) to the injured list.

On the other hand, they’re also fortunate to have him, and the feel-good aspect of his Bronx origins is the perfect complement to the overall vibe around these resurgent Yankees. You couldn’t make it up.

"Right now we’re rolling, so just taking it one pitch at a time, just trying to stay in the moment, where my feet are," Velazquez said. "That way, I don’t get lost in everything else that’s happening."

That approach is working for Velazquez and for the Yankees. And every day he seems to create another memorable moment.

"It is awesome. We're all excited for him," Aaron Boone said, acknowledging the storybook side. "But he’s playing really well for us and helping us win games with his all-around play. That’s the thing that gets me excited. And he’s come in and fit in and had an impact in the room."

Also a flair for the dramatic. Velazquez had opportunities to hit his first home run for the Rays, Orioles or Cleveland. But he didn’t go deep until he got home to the Bronx, which almost makes you believe it was supposed to happen that way.

David Lennon is an award-winning columnist, a voter for baseball's Hall of Fame and has covered six no-hitters, including two perfect games.

Copyright ©2021 Newsday. All rights reserved.

Like many companies, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for a variety of purposes, including to enhance your online experience and to make the site work as you expect it to. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change your cookie preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on the site and the services we are able to offer you.

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalized ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties for targeted advertising.

These cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work.

These cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

These cookies enable the website to provide enhanced functionality and personalisation. They may be set by us or by third party providers whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies then some or all of these services may not function properly.

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site and will not be able to monitor its performance.

Entertainment Stories