S. Miller

Kung Fu Panda's Last Stand

It is shortly after noon, field work done, weight room on deck, when Sandoval stops for a short break and considers the question: In a season full of them, what was your lowest moment last year? The absolute worst point? The big smile disappears from his face. The light melts out of his eyes. “Everything,” he says. “Every moment.” It is not easy to climb inside the mind of the Panda. His factory settings are more instigation than introspection. He is two-parts mirth, one-part myth. Generally, Panda doesn’t ponder.
S. Miller

Jose Fernandez's Joy, Passion Create Lasting Memories on Tragic Day

This is American Dream stuff—the best of our cultural melting pot, the part where it was supposed to be smooth sailing for Fernandez from here on out. Instead, a young life was extinguished far too soon. And at the most exciting time of the baseball year, with just a week's worth of drama and cheers left before the calendar turns to October and the volume cranks even higher, the games have been interrupted, and we will pause for a wrenching moment of silence.
S. Miller

Near-Fatal Swing Haunts McCann but Made Accidental Victim an Inspiration

This story ends well, but it doesn't start that way. It begins with a baseball lifer in his first spring with the Atlanta Braves organization, standing on the top dugout step, leaning against the railing. He is jawing with several players early in the game. Outfielder Nate McLouth is on his right, the side closest to right field in Atlanta's first base dugout. Which is why the coach is glancing away from the plate at the exact split-second when the baseball comes calling. "I thought he was dead," Atlanta's Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox says. "I was in a booth upstairs, and I saw him go down and he wasn't moving. There was blood everywhere.
S. Miller

Strasburg's Father-Son Bond with Tony Gwynn Made Him an MLB Star

The Master looked out at The Pupil. It was autumn, 2006, the first days of fall practice, and the incoming freshman class was finding its way, as ever, maturity not always matching exuberance. So there was work to be done. A lot of work. What The Master saw as he scanned the horizon and focused on one freshman in particular was not future riches and stardom. Instead, what he noted was baby fat to be melted. Toughness to be instilled. What he saw was a lost ball in tall weeds.
S. Miller

Confessions of a Steroid Pioneer: My Dinner with Lenny Dykstra

"This is going to be awesome, bro," the man with no front teeth—upper or lower—tells me.Steak, medium-rare, sizzles on the platter. Sauteed mushrooms beckon from their bowl. Loaded baked potatoes are floating nearby like a couple of delicious, cumulus clouds.We have come to meet and dine after three months of working through the details. Lenny Dykstra has finished his book, House of Nails, now set for publication June 28. I am home from spring training.
S. Miller

Brewers' David Denson Hopes Coming Out Paves Way to Achieving MLB Dream

Six months after knocking ignorance and intolerance out of the park, Milwaukee minor league slugger David Denson hops out of his father's white Dodge Charger in a parking lot here and smiles broadly. Behind him are the shadows from which he emerged to declare himself to the world, finally brave and comfortable enough in his own skin to do something that no other active, affiliated professional baseball player ever has dared.