I've always been more of a Field of Dreams guy. The romantic mysticism of baseball is my favorite part, as it blocks out the frequent misery and random nature of the game. I didn't even see Bull Durham until college, but this is semantics, as it's really a matter of preference between the romance of the game, and the narratives that drive it.
And I have no problem with narratives, especially in the minor leagues. My sister works for the Rainiers, and I enjoy the stories she relays, even the mundane ones, because of the narratives they create behind the players we see almost exclusively on the field.
With Taijuan Walker, that's a little different, as his Twitter and Instagram accounts do more to reveal his narrative. The most recent update to this always-online story reveals another tattoo for Walker, one that reminds me of a very specific quote from Bull Durham's Crash Davis. Here's the quote, and tattoo.
You got a gift. When you were a baby, the Gods reached down and turned your right arm into a thunderbolt.
Taijuan Walker is our Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh. He's the hard-throwing righty blessed with an arm so powerful it leaves no doubt what Walker was put on this earth to do. And he knows it.
That's really the best part.
Walker brings an attitude befitting of his talents, which is rare to find with the M's. We've seen the alternative go both ways in the Mariners minor league system—humble guys who work hard and make nary a point about it, and then there are those who may have thought and acted a little better than they were.
It's this awareness that makes Walker who he is, that and how he knows as blessed as he is with that thunderbolt of a right arm, it takes more than what's given to you. And this is also where his narrative separates from that of the fictional LaLoosh. Or maybe it's just the evolution. Maybe this is a finsihed LaLoosh.
Multiple reports, including one from John Sickels, praise Walker's work ethic. Along with the work ethic, or likely causing it, is Walker's maturity.
After his first start in Tacoma, John Stearns said "It's hard to believe he's 20 years old." Also—his catcher, Jason Jaramillo, on if he can believe Walker's as young as he is:
"I can't," he said. "The biggest thing is his composure, even more than his talent. He knows he's got good stuff, and he's confident in it."
Then, in the majors, his Crash Davis had this after the big-league debut:
"He acted like he'd been here before," said Blanco. "I thought he was going to be nervous the first couple hitters, but he wasn't. He got ahead of hitters and went from there."
I started this post as a bit of a joke, because when I saw the tattoo it immediately reminded me of the quote. And, sure, the idea of Taijuan Walker as LaLoosh is a fun one—but in looking at him I think we all know by now there's a deeper narrative here, one with immense potential for this franchise.
Still though, wouldn't it have been humorous to hear this?
Jen Mueller: So how does it feel to get your first professional win?
Taijuan Walker: It feels out there. I mean, it's a major rush. I mean, it feels radical in kind of a tubular sort of way, but most of all, it feels out there.