Thursday, March 27, 2014

Collision At Home

The Hero: Alex Avila

What You Need To Know:  Born and raised in Florida, he was drafted by the Tigers in the 34th round (seriously, the MLB draft goes on for like three weeks) out of high school.  Alex said thanks, but no thanks and attended the University of Alabama.  He didn't even start playing catcher until he attended the university (trust me, that's really crazy-sauce) and his first catcher's mitt was a gift from Ivan "Pudge" Rodriquez (who Wendy was slightly obsessed with when he was playing for Detroit).  Detroit drafted Alex again in 2008, this time in the 5th round, and he, along with his amazing facial hair, became ours.  Seriously, Google Image search Alex sometime.  One day he'll play a game clean shaven and then the VERY NEXT DAY he's got a FULL beard.  He's like a Chia Pet.

Anyway, he became our full-time catcher in 2011 and had a great year complete with a Silver Slugger award....and then we got 2012.  Injuries.  Lots of nagging injuries.  2013 got off to a very rocky start for him, but he did better in the second half of the season.  We're all hoping for a repeat of 2011 in 2014.

His Baggage:  So you're probably wondering how a college baseball player gets his first catcher's mitt from a future Hall-Of-Famer?  Yeah, nepotism.  Alex is second-generation Cuban-American and baseball is the family business.  Father, Al Avila, is currently assistant general manager for the Tigers and during his scouting days discovered Miguel Cabrera.  Grandfather, Ralph Avila, was in the Dodgers organization for many years and was at the forefront of the Latin invasion of American baseball, setting up scouting operations in the Dominican Republic.  Oh, and granddad?  Born in Cuba and took part in the failed Bay Of Pigs invasion.  Heck, I might need to write up one of these posts for granddad.....

Oh, and did I mention that Tommy Lasorda happens to be Alex's godfather?  Um, yeah.  Seriously, what is Thanksgiving like at the Avila house - ya gotta wonder.

Proposed Category Romance Plot:  He knows how lucky he is, how fortunate he is - to not only grow up living and breathing baseball, but to be surrounded by men who are passionate about the game.  But just because you have a family legacy, doesn't always make things easier.  He's had to work twice as hard, be twice as tough, to prove that he's there for his talent and not as some favor to his father, grandfather or godfather.  He had one really great season, when everything seemed to be coming together, but now he's struggling to get back to that place.  Part of him wants to silence the gossip, to prove he's not a one-year-wonder, while another part of him is wondering if he should listen to his aching body and think about a different career path.  He already feels old before his time and now there's a hot new prospect gunning for his job. Heroine:  Do you know how hard it is to be a woman in a man's world?  Yeah, it's not easy - but that's what she's had to contend with working for the scouting department.  She's had to pull twice as many hours, travel twice as much, and head to some pretty crappy areas looking for emerging talent.  Then there are the morons who thinks she's nothing more than a slutty baseball groupie trying to bag a Sugar Daddy.  However she thinks she's finally found The One.  The player that will make everyone shut the eff up - a hot new catching prospect toiling away in the Mexican League.  The kid is a diamond in the rough, but a tiny bit of polish, and he could move up the ladder really quick to
the big club, and she would become a legend in scouting folklore.  No more having to kill herself, no more listening to pointed barbs from colleagues.  She could her punch her own ticket.  Standing in her way?  The hero.  She understands that he's protective of his spot on the roster, but shooting down her evaluation and treating the kid like something he scraped off his shoe?  Well, that's just uncalled for.  She'd love to teach him a lesson in manners....well, just as soon as she's no longer distracted by his cute backside.  Damn him.

What Category Romance Line?:  Cosmo Red Hot Reads.  I can practically hear the verbal sparring, the rapid-fire Tracy-Hepburn dialogue in my head as I type this - and what does that usually lead to?  Yeah, hitting the sheets.  Oh Alex, you naughty, naughty boy!


Unknown said...

I hope you do these every year, even if there are repeated players. I love reading these.

Phyl said...

Isn't Mike Piazza one of Lasorda's godkids? I wonder how many there are.

Am enjoying these posts again. I second Jennifer's comment. I hope this becomes an annual tradition. I'm so ready for opening day!

Wendy said...

Jennifer: Hopefully between bench players and bullpen pitchers I won't have to repeat - that's entirely up to how stable our roster is in the next couple of years :)

Wendy said...

Phyl: He is! In fact Piazza was really only drafted (in the 63rd round no less!) as a favor to his dad - who just so happened to be a childhood friend of Lasorda's. Lasorda then convinced Mike to convert to catcher and viola!

I like doing these posts - and the readers who like them REALLY seem to like them. Those who don't I'm sure just tune my blog out for a week :)

Unknown said...

I echo the other two comments-I live these baseball posts and hope it becomes an annual thing!

Cecilia Grant said...

I think you've outdone yourself with this one. Great hero baggage, great heroine baggage, set-up for explosive chemistry, and on top of all that, a perfect title.

How can we get someone to actually write these?!

Wendy said...

Tracy: Assuming my my brain stays nimble enough to keep thinking up plots, I'll probably keep this going. I still haven't found the right player for a Harlequin American or Harlequin Heartwarming story :)

Wendy said...

Cecilia: I originally was thinking of making Alex's book a bit more "wholesome" - but then took a sharp left turn once I came up with a heroine for him.

Yes, someone needs to write these. I think Harlequin needs to start a continuity series that cuts across the various lines and features a baseball team. The editorial logistics would probably be a nightmare - but it could run the gamut of everything from sweet to sexy. Heck, you could even toss a Love Inspired book into the mix for the Inspy crowd!