The Layup Drill — Disney movie tells true story of Indian baseball players and more

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“Million Dollar Arm”

By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly

Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. This month, we take a look at baseball, the disappearance of Anthony Kim, and the return of Doug Baldwin.

Million Dollar Arm features Indian pitchers’ underdog story

In 2008, we wrote about two Indian pitchers who participated in an Indian reality show with the winner getting the chance at a major league contract in America. As you may know, Disney recently released the movie “Million Dollar Arm,” which is based on the story of Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh. Patel and Singh were picked to come to America and compete for a chance to play baseball. Even though Patel and Singh did not have any baseball experience, each had an athletic background hurling objects. Patel was an accomplished javelin thrower and Singh was a cricket player, as well as a javelin thrower.

Despite beating out 37,000 competitors on the Indian reality show, the chances to make it to the majors were slim.

However, with the help from the agent who pitched the reality series, they signed on with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. In 2009, Singh became the first Indian pitcher to appear in a professional baseball game in the United States. He also became the first Indian-born pitcher to win a game. While he achieved moderate success, Singh was let go by the Pirates. Singh has managed to hold onto his dream of making it to the majors and was invited back to the Pirates to try out for the team again.

Patel actually made a brief appearance in the majors registering one win in 2009. But, after an unsuccessful 2010 season, he was let go by the club. Patel returned to India where he coaches baseball.

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Ji-Man Choi

Although I have yet to see the movie, I could see this story make for a great evening of entertainment. It was the classic rags to (possible) riches story of an underdog winning, despite lofty odds. Both Patel and Singh came from poverty stricken homes and the chance to win a “million dollar” contract seemed like the only way out for the two. Both were brave enough to leave their country to come to America with such uncertainty. It will be interesting to see how much the movie alters reality.

Mariner minor leaguer suspended

Ji-Man Choi, a South Korean baseball player for the Seattle Mariners’ minor league club, the Tacoma Rainiers, was suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for a performance enhancing substance. The Mariners’ minor league first baseman seemed to be a shoe-in to make it to the big leagues this year or the next. However, with the ban of almost half the season, it’s unlikely he will get a chance in the majors and with the Mariners.

Choi has offered up an apology, although he does not know what he may have used that was supposedly illegal.

Regardless, he did not appeal the decision and will serve the suspension. This is a rough punishment for a budding player.

Return of ’Kuma

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Anthony Kim

On the positive side for the Mariners, Hisashi Iwakuma returned to the team after an injury forced him to miss the first month of the season. Iwakuma did not lose anything despite the injury, as he has won his first two games since being back and has helped the team get back over the .500 mark in wins.

Whatever happened to Anthony Kim?

In the same article we outlined Patel and Singh, we wrote about U.S. golfer Anthony Kim. Kim burst upon the golf scene during the U.S. Ryder Cup in 2008, when he led cheers for the U.S. team in its annual matchup with the European team.

He then won several tournaments and briefly took the place of Tiger Woods (who was away from the game due to knee surgery) as the best Asian golfer on the tour.

Fast forward to today. Kim has not played golf since 2012. It’s not because he lost his zest for the game, but due to injuries. He had to withdraw from his last tournament due to tendinitis in his left arm. Kim then tore his Achilles six weeks later. No word on when or if Kim will be back on the golf scene any time soon. The huge time off seems to be a concern since there have not been any other reported injuries since 2008.

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Doug Baldwin

We always write about the success of Asian golfers and this appears to be a case where Kim may never get back to the level of success he had in 2008. It’s sad to see, considering that Tiger Woods is out indefinitely and Kim could have been the next great Asian American golfer.

Welcome back, Doug Baldwin

The Seattle Seahawks re-signed wide receiver Doug Baldwin and he will remain with the team for next year. Baldwin, who is part Filipino, had the option to seek out another team to play for in free agency and the Seahawks could have been forced to decide whether to match another team’s offer. Fortunately for the Seahawks, they did not have to make that choice. Even though the Seahawks drafted two wide receivers in the NFL Draft, we can expect number 89 (Baldwin’s number) on the field for the defending World Champions this fall. (end)

Jason Cruz can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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