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Friday, April 10, 2015

Paulo Orlando, Brazil, and the Royals

Brazilian Flag (Wikipedia)
For a long time the most known sports figures from Brazil have always been soccer stars. Brazil is a land where football is king. That all changed for at least a moment across the Midwestern United States and wherever else Royals fans found themselves watching or listening to Thursday's game against the White Sox. It was on this day a 29 year old Paulo Orlando, after ten years of minor league baseball would finally make his big league debut becoming only the third Brazilian to ever accomplish that feat. And when you really get down to it, the importance of the fact that Paulo finally made his debut for the Royals against the White Sox cannot be understated.
Before there was Paulo there was two other Brazilians to play at the highest level:
Catcher Yan Gomes and pitcher Andre Rienzo.
What might seem like a relatively non-important fact is really quite amazing. Because in baseball, like with God, there are no coincidences.
Yan Gomes, the Brazillian American who played college ball for Tennessee became the first Brazilian in the majors when he made his debut May 17th 2012 for the Blue Jays. Yan who now catches for the Indians seemingly has no ties to the Royals, but you'd be wrong. Yan Gomes hit his 25th career MLB homerun off of Danny Duffy July 6th of last year. But digging even deeper you would find that Yan is married to Jenna Hammaker, daughter of the Royals 1979 1st round draft pick, Atlee Hammaker. What is more impressive than that? The first Brazillian to ever play MLB married the daughter of a former Royals pitcher. Didn't I tell you there where no coincidences?
Still don't believe me, okay lets look at Andre Rienzo. On the surface he appears to be just another Chicago White Sock, but you would be wrong there. Recall that awful 5-2 Royals loss on August 21st 2013 and you'll see that, that was the night Rienzo won his first game. Becoming the first Braziallian born pitcher to receive a win and the only Brazilian born pitcher to ever beat the Kansas City Royals.
Still none of that has much to do with the speedy Paulo Orlando. No what has to do with Paulo Orlando is an obscure trade that happened on August 9th 2008 that sent reliever "HoRam" Horacio Ramirez to the White Sox for an outfielder who had spent the whole season in High Class A Winston-Salem and allowed the Royals to call up often forgotten pitcher Josh Newman who would go on to pitch in four games for Kc amassing a 7.71 ERA.
Horacio set into motion the events that would transpire yesterday. (Fox Sports)

From here time would take it's toll, and eventually people lost track of the trade. Ramirez would be out of the Majors by 2012 and retired after 2013. Josh Newman would be out of baseball by 2010. Yet time would not stop Paulo's dream. A ball in 2009 lead to him to AA in 2010. He would peak as high as AAA Omaha the following year before returning to AA in 2012. 2013 and 2014 both saw him continue to fight it out at Omaha but by now people had for the most part lost interest. In fact just last year South Side Sox in an article describing why the Sox should not fear trading within the division said this:
The Royals, though? That wall fell years ago, as they snapped a 14-year drought by making four trades from 2006 to 2009. Granted, none of those deals were worth remembering for either team:

July 24, 2006: Tyler Lumsden and Dan Cortes for Mike MacDougal
Dec. 16, 2006: Ross Gload for Andrew Sisco
Aug. 9, 2008: Paulo Orlando for Horacio Ramirez
Nov. 6, 2009: Josh Fields and Chris Getz for Mark Teahen

And although I take strong exception to the fact they think that anyone would not remeber Ross Gload, the fact remains the same. The White Sox had forgotten about the heart and drive of Paulo Orlando. A drive and a dream that was finally realized yesterday afternoon when Paulo went 1 for 3 with a triple and a walk. While one game does not make for something to get to excited about overall, for Paulo Orlando it made all the hard work worth it.

"It might not have looked like it," he said, "but I was nervous. There was a lot of emotions out there for me. Maybe next time I can control my emotions more." 
~ Paulo Orlando (Royals.com)
All smiles (Royals.com)

After ten years Paulo certainly has something to smile about, and not only him but all who love baseball in Brazil and are proving that soccer is no longer, the only sport.


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