Cat power: We’ll all get to witness how dangerous Luis Robert will be, as early as the end of March. (Kim Contreras/South Side Hit Pen)
What is about panthers? They are, for all intents and purposes, just leopards and jaguars with a melanism. Still we find them magnetizing and assign some mystical properties to them.
It’s hard to not get caught up in the mysticism surrounding surround Luis Robert. Perhaps we feel the need to halt ourselves when considering his rocket to the top combined with his injuries and age. Could this money be spent elsewhere?
Luis Robert has already lived more life than many of us here, and is mystical in that regard alone:
- Age 14: Starred for Cuba’s 16-and-under team
- Age 15: Began his professional baseball career in Cuba (batting average: .325)
- Age 16: Hit four home runs in the COPABE 18U Pan American Championship (batting average: .383)
- Age 19: Defected from Cuba and was declared a free agent five months later (batting average: .393)
- Age 20: Signed with the Chicago White Sox
- Age 21: Worked his way up through– i.e. dominated– the Winston-Salem Dash and Birmingham Barons.
- Age 22: Joined the Charlotte Knights; became a member of the 30/30 club; hit 30 home runs and stole 36 bases throughout the season.
As I write them, I sit on my couch in my underwear, tortilla chips strewn down my shirt, and read about the news of Robert’s six-year, $50 million deal with the White Sox, before I turn to the mirror and say “Damn, what are any of us doing, really?”
We have watched a transformation from Luis Robert to LuBob. However, La Pantera, at age 22, has ARRIVED.
By finally calling up La Pantera and other big money moves, the White Sox have embraced a transformation and sense of urgency — some might feel it is with wreckless abandon while others are riding this roller coaster. The management seems to feel a bit of both: In a story from USA Today regarding the current Winter Meetings, Rick Hahn mentioned “there’s more than one conversation every week when [Jerry Reinsdorf] reminds us how old he is and wondering how much longer he has to wait to get to the promised land. He’s ready to get to the winning stage.” Us too, Jerry.
It’s hard not to consider what is going on in Jerry’s head. Hahn confirmed that Jerry is feeling restless, but at what cost?
Perhaps Jerry, who grew up a Brooklyn Dodger fan, sees a young Duke Snider when imagining Robert roaming center field. Now is the time to recapture childhood dreams.
Perhaps Jerry had a long conversation with a bartender named Lloyd at the Overlook Hotel and is selling his soul for a drippy sip from the Commissioner’s Trophy.
Or maybe, just maybe, he is just padding the team for an inevitable sell.
What’s your guess?
Regardless, Reinsdorf has a plan, and sees something in Luis Robert that will tie up the loose ends of any one of these possibilities.
And what is it about panthers? Famed researcher W.H. Hudson found that indigenous peoples believed panthers were an entirely separate species that has mystical properties.
The White Sox management and fans seem to take confidence in numbers, but there is still a fine layer of mysticism surrounding La Pantera. Let’s see the magic come alive on Opening Day, at bat and in center field.