This week the pageantry and pomp of the Vatican is on display while it determines which of its upper echelon will assume the office of pontiff. Amid all the hoopla it’s easy to forget that the Catholic Church is a complex, multidimensional institution that defies easy categorization. One might decide, as many have, that the church is best defined by its clergy’s epidemic of rape and torture of children, plus its decades-long criminal conspiracy to cover up said crimes. But it must be said the church is about more than that. There’s also its effort to keep condoms out of Africa, its ruthless suppression of women in its own ranks, and its historical support of fascist regimes such as Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany.
It should come as no surprise that an organization having its bejeweled fingers jammed into so many figurative pies (yuck) is one that has a lot to consider this week in evaluating a replacement pontiff.
Which is why there’s no better day than today to look into a potential pope’s baseball skills. If not now, when?
From Confession Box To Batter’s Box
Evaluating talent in baseball is the domain of the professional baseball scout. Just as the Catholic clergy has a hierarchy, so too with major league baseball and its brotherhood of scouts — prelates, really — walking the land in search of a savior. If an MLB team is a diocese and its scouts have an archbishop, he is called his eminence. Or, in some circles, Pro Scouting Coordinator. Because I am lucky, I happen to know one such official personally.
So when I came across a YouTube audition tape of a cassocked, left handed slap-hitter straight out of the Vatican farm system, I knew exactly where I had to go for a professional’s evaluation.
To shield my friend from any misdirected ire coming from the Catholic flock over this post, I will not use his name nor the name of his MLB team, and ask instead that any bruised believers register their disapproval in my direction alone, so that I can safely ignore it.
And now: in the interest of ensuring the Vatican has all the facts at its disposal during this time of transition, I post this professional evaluation of a lefty slap-hitting prospect in the Padres system.
Or maybe it’s the Cardinals. I forget. Definitely not the Angels.
Scout: Good hand-eye coordination and clearly some feel for contact. Off-balance, lunging swing is very upper-half dependent. 20 power, no real ability to drive anything, just up there looking to make contact. Front foot flies open and offline, possibly to help him get a bit a jailbreak to first. Did not see him run or play the field, and just not enough bat to warrant a second look at this time. Whispers of makeup issues.