When Pro Sports Gets It Right
by Anthony Stasi
Jun 14, 2011 | 4906 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Texas Rangers chose a guy named Johnathan Taylor as their 33rd pick in the 2011 baseball draft. The choice was interesting and it made me think of a catcher-second baseman that briefly played for the St. Paul Saints (a minor league team) in 1996.

I was in graduate school at that time and the Saints were trying out Dave Stevens as a catcher and infielder. Stevens has no legs; he was born without the lower half of his body. He was a college athlete, and he ran on his hands. Stevens never made the team permanently, but he did play a few innings, and he even pinch hit once for then teammate Darryl Strawberry (Strawberry was making one of his comebacks).

What I remember from those days was that I had time in between night classes, and so I began to use the weight room at St. John’s. Never with much of an upper body, I thought about Stevens, how ripped his upper body was because that was all he had. I started to work out without using any of my lower body. I put all the pressure on my upper body. I was soon lifting a lot of weight, and I have always credited Stevens for inspiring me to get into better shape.

The Texas Rangers are an inspiring team. The Rangers were looking at two players at the University of Georgia this year, Zach Cone and Johnathan Taylor. Three weeks ago, Taylor and Cone collided on a play that left Taylor partially paralyzed.

The Rangers made 32 draft choices and picked up Cone along the way before choosing Taylor as their 33rd choice. Taylor may never play ball again, in fact he might not walk. But the Rangers realize that they would have liked to have drafted him if he were able to play, and for that alone it was worth letting this young man know he was still worthy of being picked. He may also get help for his injuries, as he is now an employee of the Texas Rangers.

There are so many unfortunate stories of late in politics and sports that this should be considered the best story in sports so far this year. The story made me think of how Marty Scott, manager of the St. Paul Saints, explained giving Dave Stevens a chance in 1996. He said that if all of his players had their legs tied behind their backs, Stevens would be their best player.

That was good enough for Scott, and the Rangers were right to think that Taylor is good enough to be drafted with their 33rd pick. Here’s hoping the Rangers win the Western Division, because odds are the Yankees are going to need the wild card slot.

Chocolate Milk and Public Schools

There are certain things that are part of childhood: McDonalds, chocolate milk, candy, etc. Public school systems, however, are by no means obligated to offer chocolate milk in schools.

Some say that parenting should be done at home, and a child’s diet is between the child and his or her parents. Right they are. And they can serve their children sugar water if that is what they wish, but many school districts are right to take chocolate milk out as an option in schools. None of this would be an issue if the dairy lobby was not hard at work advertising chocolate milk as a rite of passage.

Maybe schools cannot make a student healthy by banning certain drinks, the same way they cannot make them athletes by forcing them to sit in gym class twice a week. There is, however, no reason for soda machines and chocolate milk to be made available to kids who, many times, already have too much sugar in their diet.

Los Angeles Unified Schools Superintendent John Deasy recently announced he is working to eliminate flavored milks from school. These are the easy decisions in public education. Removing junk food should be a no-brainer.

The milk issue is tough because dairy farmers have grown used to selling schools a lot of chocolate milk. The politics of this is understandable, but we cannot put the health of students at risk because of the dairy lobby. If students get used to regular milk, the dairy interests will still benefit by selling healthier milk.

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