Growing up my dream was to become a professional football player. I loved the sport, I'd watch it every Saturday and Sunday and play it outside every day that it wasn't on television. But as much as I loved football, it wasn't the sport I was naturally gifted at. That sport was baseball.
Long story short, the football dream never worked out. I never grew. Well, that's an understatement. I didn't hit 5-feet tall until the summer before my senior year in high school. I'm not lying to you when I say my driver's license says 4-foot 6-inches.
My grandparents and my mom are still disappointed in me that I didn't pursue a career in baseball. And it wasn't until these past two years that realized I was disappointed in myself too. But it really wasn't my fault, I just feel in love with the wrong sport.
Now I'm not saying I would've ever made it to the major leagues, in fact, I know that I probably wouldn't have. But if I had the chance to do it all over again, I'd definitely give it a try.
And the reason is because of what Major League Baseball has turned into. No longer is it popular because players are pursuing records that were set generations before them. It's popular because every month a phenom emerges.
It all started four years ago when Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg took the mound for the first time in his career. We didn't know it then, but that 14-strikeout performance from the Nats ace ushered in a new era of baseball.
Just last year, the era of the phenom came to fruition.
First came Mike Trout, who tore up opposing pitching all year and made impossible plays in center field look like routine fly balls. A .326 batting average, 30 home runs and 49 stolen bases made Trout the American League Rookie of the Year in 2012, and if Tigers' slugger Miguel Cabrera hadn't hit for the first Triple Crown (leader in batting average, home runs and RBI) since 1967, Trout would've added an MVP trophy to go along it.
Next was Bryce Harper, a kid who posessed myth-like stories around his game since he was in high school. And it didn't take long for those legends to be proven true. The 19-year-old outfielder hit 22 home runs, most of which were moon shots, for the Nationals and flashed a new level of hustle that the majors had never seen before. He even stole home, which is no simple task for anyone. All of this earned Harper last season's National League Rookie of the Year.
This year has given us even more young talent, and even more proof that this new era is here to stay. Orioles 20-year-old third baseman Manny Machado is on pace to destroy the single season records for doubles and is, in my opinion, the best fielding third baseman out there. Mets 24-year-old starting pitcher Matt Harvey has basically been unhittable since joining the majors last season, wielding a 2.42 ERA in 182.1 career innings.
And then there's my personal favorite, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig (it's pronounced yah-SEE-el PWEEG if you were wondering). The 22-year old Cuban born slugger has taken the league by storm since his call up on June 3. He is currently batting .394 with eight home runs and 56 hits in just 35 games. And if you haven't seen him play, he is a combination of lighting and chaos in a bottle.
There are plenty more who I don't have the time to mention.
Personally, I think baseball is more fun than ever, and it's because of these players. It's obviously too late for me, but for all you young baseball players out there, keep playing and working hard and you may just make a name for yourself one day.