Click play and the Star Wars style text starts to roll. This may very well be my all time favorite baseball video.
From the Star Wars intro to the wide world of sports ABC style ‘this is where Cuba is’ graphic right on through to the unexpected tune of “Sailing” which of course eventually leads us to Jay-Z’s ‘On to the Next One’ – it’s a recruiting video with a little something for everyone. Like a baseball highlight reel set on shuffle.
Talk about hype. Or perhaps overhype. I don’t even care if the kid can deliver. The video is so odd at this point, in my opinion he comes off as interesting and not at all afraid to do what he thinks is cool. Between the Star Wars reference and the Christopher Cross hit ‘Sailing’ as the lead in tune to his baseball highlights, you have to wonder if this kid’s a genius, a total nerd and proud of it, trying to be ironic or simply needs a new iTunes gift card to replenish his music collection.
With all of that, you have to hope that if Yoenis ends up on your team that his production on the field can match the production value of the video – and then some. The thing that makes this feel slightly obnxious though? 20 minutes? Really? Slo-mo replays? Over and over again? Tons of music and none of it related to baseball? With all the borrowed tunes in this thing, you couldn’t lay down an MP3 of something from The Natural? Little Big League? Nothing? There must have been some Air Bud tune you could find to lay down. The ‘Sailing’ song made me laugh, but shouldn’t I be more in awe of this kid’s highlights and not distracted by the scene stealing slow jam playing behind it?
Finally at the sixteen minute mark you get a ‘Now Let’s Play Ball’ graphic. Sixteen minutes of graphics, odd music selections, cheesy flight lines over a spinning globe ending in a US? style graphic. FINALLY, we get to what matters. We get that he’s strong. We get that he’s cool. We get that he is a player of today with the hip-hop intro and music video featuring a shirtless running segment that would make even Terrell Owens jealous. What do fans really care about though?
Sure, he can hit the long ball and catch a fly ball behind his back. BUT, can he play? If all he’s good for is a little flash a couple dozen home runs, we have already had that in Soriano. Two shutout trips to the playoffs later and we are looking for a little more out of our young talent. You want to rebuild with youngsters, fine but they better fit the mold you are shaping in Castro - a young kid that appears to be a high-potential work in progress who knows how to get on base and play to his strengths however not afraid to admit and work on his weaknesses. I don’t recall seeing any recruitment videos like this for Starlin. There is something to be said about being humble. A video of this proportions is great to get a team’s attention and get fans like me talking about you sure. Does it at least feature some baseball highlights as opposed to a ego rap video project that is for nothing but fun (see Jose Reyes)? Sure. Of course, Reyes has years and years in with the league and some earned leeway to have some fun. The Cespedes video effort needs to attract teams and build interest in his talent. He SHOULD be trying to get the people’s attention. If you want to go sailing away from Cuba and end up playing for the Chicago Cubs or some other storied franchise you better do something that stands out – I get that. However, he also better be able to back up the hype he is creating for himself.
It’s one thing for people to create a hype that builds up an expectation that you can’t live up to but never asked for. It’s another to promote yourself with a video like this (and honestly, what videos nowadays don’t end up in the public eye with YouTube, etc) and then sign a big deal without the ability to show that you are one.
At the 18:00 mark we finally come around to the credits. Finally, the baseball movie reference comes along and appropriately enough it’s one that shows Cespedes is practically Yoenis Rowengartner. He credits his agent and business folks, the production team and then they spot a tribute to his mother, a Cuban National Softball Ace Pitcher from 1988-2003. With that one tribute, you start to appreciate a little bit more when Yoenis coming from. Sure, it’s fun to think that the name ‘Mary’ is written on the inside of Yoenis’ glove like Henry’s, however if in fact the real life player’s glove has anything to do with the fictional player’s, the name would be ‘Estela’, not Mary. It’s a fun tribute to his mother who accomplished a great deal in the game. It makes me feel like this isn’t as obnoxious as I thought it was 20 minutes ago.
Ok, I could do without the shirtless chubby man dancing at the end – however, thing is, after watching all of this (including the topless family member dancing in the end credits), I now wish we had videos like this for all of the young talent the Cubs are considering. Stats can only tell you so much about a player. With a video as personal as this, you learn a lot about Yoenis and who he is as a person. As we’ve learned as of late with some of the people the Cubs have brought in over the last decade, stats tell only one part of the story. Unfortunately when you bring in new talent, you aren’t just bringing the ability, but also the personality.
Anyway, somewhere during the final seven minutes of the video, I came around. I wasn’t sure that I liked him very much at first although I did find him entertaining and maybe because I have produced many television projects, the cheese factor was annoying me a little. All of that aside, taking into consideration simply what he is trying to accomplish, what it must have taken to get something like this made, the creativity that went into it and the fact that this kid isn’t afraid to put himself out there, there’s a lot to like about it. Yoenis comes off as a cool, talented kid who would likely be fun to root for. I don’t know what it will take for the Cubs to sign him and I know he’s only down on their radar as a tryout. However, if the team decides that there may be a place in the outfield for Yoenis one day, after viewing his promo video I’d have to say I’m intrigued and would be willing to see how this kid would do in a uniform that reads Cubs, instead of Cuba.
What did you think of the Yoenis Cespedes video? Go Cubs Go!