Chase Lambin is the latest Cyclone to learn the danger of inviting parents to Keyspan Park.
It started innocently enough, with Bruce and Wanda Lambin regaling the Brooklyn press corps with mildly embarrassing family stories of their sons Chase and Cash, but it ended with reporters getting an eyeful of a picture that the Cyclones infielder probably wishes had never been taken.
Bruce Lambin went a little further than just passing around old wallet photos, going deep into the family archives to pull out a copy of an instructional video he produced years ago called, “How to Hit & Run.” On the cover is none other than an 8-year-old Chase Lambin with high stirrups.
Here’s the story of how the future pro ballplayer got his big break in modeling:
“We had made the video in 1988 and the distributor wanted to get some kid from a talent agency to be on the cover,” said Bruce Lambin, a baseball coach, producer of Little League-approved instructional videos, and author of “Parent’s Guide to Baseball: Surviving and Thriving, Youth League to College.”
“I said, ‘Well, that kid might look great, but it would totally destroy our credibility if he didn’t know how to hold a bat.’ The distributor said, ‘Well, if you’ve got someone better, great.’ Of course, I had someone better: Chase.”
Not only did Chase know how to hold a bat, but he’s seen on the cover batting righty — which the now-switch-hitting Cyclone couldn’t do back then.
That kind of effort is exactly what distinguishes Chase even today, his dad said. “When he was on Team USA in college, he was in the bottom 25 percent of the team in terms of pure physical gifts,” Bruce Lambin said. “But he ended up with the second-highest batting average and the most RBIs because he works so hard.”
“We shorted him on genes, I guess,” added his mother, Wanda. “But he learned the most important lesson: Work hard, respect the game and have fun.”
When asked for a comment, Chase Lambin only blushed. “They didn’t show you that video, did they?” Yes, they did.
Bobby Malek’s arm surgery last week appears to have gone smoothly.
A top Mets prospect, Malek spent the first half of the season as a designated hitter awaiting surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm. The famed “Tommy John surgery” — named after the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher whose career was saved by the then-revolutionary ligament-transplant procedure — began at the ungodly hour of 5:20 am last Monday at Manhattan’s Hospital for Joint Diseases. Malek wasn’t released until 3:30 in the afternoon and later showed up in the Keyspan Park clubhouse sporting a nasty shoulder-to-wrist cast.
“I’m just looking forward to getting the stitches out this week and recovering,” Malek said.
He admitted that he wasn’t eagerly anticipating the rehabilitation process, which takes several months, the first of which is spent in excruciating pain as the patient begins to stretch his arm again.
Malek is expected to be ready for action by spring training.
If there’s a baseball strike as threatened on Aug. 30, it’ll do more than demoralize baseball fans, demonize major leaguers and destabilize the sport’s fragile finances. It’ll also adversely affect our minor-league heroes.
“A lot of people say a major league players’ strike doesn’t affect us minor-leaguers, but it does,” said Cyclones outfielder Jonathan Slack, one of a handful of players who got philosophical after a recent game. “The game of baseball is still coming back from the last strike. And that trickles down to us.”
Slack, like most Cyclones, was concerned mostly that a strike would force clubs to cancel Instructional League play over the winter. A dozen of the most promising Cyclones are expected to get the chance to work on their skills, rather than just take odd jobs, during the off-season.
Beyond that, others were concerned that fan anger could hasten the demise of several of the teetering big-league clubs, such as Montreal, Florida, Milwaukee or Minnesota.
“If there’s contraction, the funnel just gets narrower for us,” said catcher Jimmy Anderson. “If major league baseball loses two teams, that’s hundreds of minor-leaguers trying to latch on with new organizations.”
Hard-throwing, fast-talking pitcher Kevin Deaton complained that fans are unfair to the players, who are typically portrayed as “poor little rich boys.”
“Listen, if baseball was just a game, there’d be free tickets,” said Deaton, the Cyclones best pitcher. “It’s a business. If this was just an issue of a $10 million salary versus $8 million salaries, I’d say the fans are right to be disgusted. But there are much bigger issues here than money.”
Like his teammates, hot-hitting infielder Blake Whealy thought a strike would be bad for all levels of baseball. But he was able to look on the bright side: “If the major leaguers go on strike on Aug. 30, we’re the only game in town.”
The Pitcher of the Future for the New York Mets once again proved that he’s much more valuable as the Cyclones’ Pitcher of the Right Now.
On Monday night, Scott Kazmir, the Mets’ No.1 draft pick, showed more of the form that earned him the organization’s highest-ever signing bonus, striking out seven Tri-City Valley Cats, and allowing just one weak single, in four dynamic innings on the road.
The Cyclones went on to win 7-0.
Many fans wished that Kazmir had pitched the fifth to get his first win as a pro, but the 18-year-old from Houston, Texas is on a strict pitch count so that he doesn’t blow out his big left arm.
“I would have liked to pitch another inning, but I know I’m on a pitch count,” Kazmir told reporters after the game. “I felt good out there.”
He is expected to make his debut at Keyspan Park on Saturday, Aug. 24.
August 26, 2002 issue