In the clubhouse of the single-A Lakewood BlueClaws, 20-year-old Dylan Cozens towers over the other players. The former high school two-sport star was recruited to play college football, but chose baseball instead after being drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft. He’s currently the 14th-ranked prospect in the Phillies’ system, and leads the BlueClaws this season in both home runs and stolen bases. He spoke with us July 24 after going 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs in an 8-3 win over the Greenville Drive.
Larry Greene, Jr., is ranked as the number 22 prospect in the Phillies organization. He’s projected to be a power hitting outfielder, so it’s a little incongruous that the single-A Lakewood (NJ) BlueClaws occasionally play as his walk-up music the song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen. (You may have heard of it. It was a small, independent film. Didn’t get much play in the media.)
He was the 39th pick in 2011 draft, but his early career has been derailed by injury, including significant time on the DL last season and earlier this season. In his third season in pro ball, he’s working on finding his groove by staying healthy and adapting to the rigors of a career in professional baseball.
He talked to us July 24, 2014, in Lakewood.
I’m old now. That’s good and bad. The bad thing is I’m going to die sooner. The good thing is that I understand real accomplishment, disappointment, living up to expectations, trying to earn the respect of your peers, and the importance of family.
The older I get, the more I appreciate great sports movie moments that capture real emotion that everyone can understand, whether they’re a sports fan or not. To follow are five bonafide sports movie moments that make me sob like a little boy. These clips on their own may not tell the whole story, but in the context of watching the entire movie, they earn their power.
#5 Rocky Balboa goes all 15 rounds against Apollo Creed
If you asked most people who have seen Rocky (1976) what it’s about (and most of them probably haven’t seen it recently), they will probably tell you it’s a classic underdog story where a nobody comes to prove himself and wins the championship. But Balboa actually doesn’t win the fight in the first movie in the franchise, he loses a split decision to Creed. But winning that fight isn’t what he wanted to prove. He just wanted to prove he could stand up there with Creed; to go 15 rounds against the champ. So while Creed celebrates in his corner because he gets to keep his belt, Rocky, blinded by swelling in his eyes and attempting to swat away reporters who wouldn’t give him the time of day 15 rounds ago, desperately tries to find his newfound love, the painfully shy Adrian, to hold her and profess his love to her. Rocky isn’t a champion. But he’s not a palooka. He’s not a tomato. He’s not “a leg breaker for some cheap second-rate loan shark” anymore. He can stand up as a man. He did what he set out to do.
Let’s just pretend the sequels didn’t happen so we can fully appreciate this exhausted exchange between the competitors once the final bell sounds:
Apollo: “Ain’t gonna be no rematch.”
Rocky: “Don’t want one.”
I guess we can also overlook the fact that any one of these punches would lay out either of these guys. But hey, it’s a movie.
Pitching prospect Zach Lee has been making quick work of the Dodgers’ farm system, advancing basically a level a year since debuting with the Great Lakes Loons in 2011. But in his fourth season in the minors, Lee is not adjusting as quickly as he would like to his role with the triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes, and some have started calling young phenom Julio Urias the team’s top pitching prospect instead of Lee. After going 10-10 with a 3.22 ERA in double-A Chattanooga last season, Lee is 6-8 with a 4.93 ERA in 19 games in Albuquerque. He talked to us in front of a giant Homer Simpson painting in the depths of Isotopes Park earlier this month.
In case there was any question, it’s official now: I am a minor league baseball junkie. I’ve been finding increasingly flimsy excuses to get to new stadiums this season, and going farther out of my way to do so. So it was on the Fourth of July that I woke my family up at 6:30 a.m. and crammed them in the family truckster (humming “Holiday Road” the entire way) to drive seven hours from Fort Collins, Colorado, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a
baseball game family road trip.
The Isotopes, triple-A affiliate of the Dodgers, are best known for being named after a 2001 episode of The Simpsons in which Homer thwarts plans by the Duff Beer company, owner of the Springfield Isotopes, to move the team to Albuquerque. (Bartender Moe was unhappy that Duff Beer owned the Springfield Isotopes in the first place: “They bought ‘em a year ago from the Mafia. It was the last of the family-owned teams.”)